Perkin's Pretty Popper

Popcorn machine

A PRETTY POPPER - the popcorn machine made by R. R. Perkins. It's painted a beautiful bright red and white and machinery part is black.Courtesy of R. R. Perkins, 611 Jackson Street, Scott City, Kansas 67871.

R. R. Perkins

Content Tools

611 Jackson Street Scott City, Kansas 67871

I am a retired high pressure maintenance welder of Kansas, Nebraska, Natural Gas Company. I had the best job any man could have and gave them 28 years of my life. At age 62, my health failed me and I had to retire. About three years before I retired,. I started to make this popper.

I drew up the plans from memory. My brother and I were in Marysville, Kansas, back in 1927. We had eaten dinner and were standing on the street, picking our teeth, when around the corner came a steam popper a man pulling it by the tongue. It was like the one in the picture as I remember. The man had the popper all steamed up before he left home. My brother and I bought the first two sacks he sold. We were two young farm boys from Republic County, Kansas, that did not get to town too often in those days. (By the way, I had a 1925 Model T Roadster with a starter, balloon tires, demountable rims and the side curtain opened with a door).

I asked the man after we bought the popcorn how much the popper cost him. He said, '$3500.00.'

I said, 'That is a lot of money.'

He said, 'I know it is, but it won't take long to get my money back at 5 cents a sack.'

Somehow this popper stayed in the back of my mind down through the years. So in 1965 I started to build the popper. I made the kettle. It has two heats. If you set it on high, it will pop corn faster than you can sack it.

The steam engine is made from the original patterns of the Cretor engine. The boiler is made from 10 inch 1000 pound factory tested pipe. When I finished welding the boiler flues and fire-box, I put a hydrostat on the boiler with cold water to 200 pounds. The boiler has a pop valve which will pop at 48 pounds a whistle. It fires with natural gas. Engine has a case three ball governor and a displacement lubricator. The engine runs fine on 45 pounds of steam or compressed air. The four wheels are old wheel chair wheels.

Well, Sy Perkins, what are you going to do with this popper? In 1965 when I started the popper the thought I had in mind was when I got it built and retired I would buy a one horse trailer and rebuild the trailer to haul the popper to the steam engine shows. I thought I would go around the country and sell enough popcorn to pay expenses and to visit. When I retired at 62 that was out.

Last September 1970, I finished the popper. It sets in my garage with a clear plastic cover over it to keep the dust off of it. I would enjoy a new car, a 12 inch lathe and a AC-DC-250 welder more than the popper.

I also think I can weld better than I can write a story.