Response from a KECK GONNERMAN FAN

Keck-Gonnerman engine

Keck-Gonnerman engine #1246, 25 HP. Owner Fred Guhl, Stuttgart, Arkansas.

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P.O. Box 112 Cleveland, Oklahoma 74020

This article is in response to Mr. James W. Russell's letter in the Soot in the Flues column, and the subsequent reprint of Mr. Chandler's comments of 1971, in the March/April 1999 IMA.

I, like Mr. Russell, had read of the 25 HP Keck-Gonnerman engines in the Chandler letters of 1971. Anyone who knows me is aware of my love of Keck-Gonnerman equipment. My grandfather's last engine was a Keck double. I own what I believe is a good Keck outfit, a 20 HP double engine, 36' x 60' thresher, and a recently acquired (with the help of many of my friends) K. G. water wagon.

Those of us who own Keck-Gonnerman equipment are fortunate that some of the original factory records were saved from the trash pile back in 1953, when the company was liquidated.

The two engine registers and the thresher register now reside in New Harmony, Indiana, at the New Harmony Workingmen's Institute Library. Anyone with a Keck engine or thresher need only contact them with the serial number and they will gladly pull the record and send a copy for a small fee.

This brings me back to Mr. Russell's and Mr. Chandler's comments about the 25 HP engines. I, too, had thought about the 25's, so a few years ago I made the trip to New Harmony to do some research. I spent part of the first day, and eight hours of the next, going through the records looking for the 25's. It would be easy to get sidetracked by all of the information presented in the engine registers. But for now, I simply wanted to concentrate on the big engines.

The following is a list of all of the 25's that I could find:

#1088, a double rear mount sold to an A.G. Davis of Thomson, Illinois, September 29, 1908.

#1099, a left-hand single portable with 14 ft. smokestack, sold to B. F. Swartz of Matthews, Missouri, January 11, 1909.

#1120, a single portable sold to G. W. Mitchell of East Prairie, Missouri, September 1911.

#1124, double rear mount sold to the B. F. Marshall Land & Investment Company of Blodgett, Missouri, May 20, 1910.

#1149, a double rear mount sold to H.E. Webb of Trenton, Kentucky, April 2, 1910. First one to have square tanks and bunks.

#1052, a double rear mount sold to Jackson, Stewart and Hobbs of Deaver, Wyoming, March 5, 1910. This engine was taken back, overhauled and a Miller reverse installed and sold to E. J. Kelver of Mascoutah, Illinois, November 24, 1916. It had a Rumely style platform.

#1180, double rear mount sold to J. T. Johnson of Guthrie, Kentucky, April 12, 1910.

#1185, a double rear mount sold to Ed Dvont of Ridgway, Illinois, in June 1911. This engine was taken back and sold to W. E. Died rich of Palmyra, Illinois. It had a Rumely style platform.

#1245, double rear mount sold to Crain & Limbaugh of Charleston, Missouri, July 22, 1911.

#1246, a single rear mount sold to Fred Guhl of Stuttgart, Arkansas, July 1911. First one to have tapered square coal boxes and 'Springer Style' (two level) platform. Four jaw clutch, weight of engine 28,000 lbs.

#1262, single rear mount sold to H. McGaughey of Vincennes, Indiana, October 1911. This engine taken back and resold to J. O. Miller of Lawndale, Illinois, March 2, 1917.

#1271, a single rear mount sold to William Good of Urbana, Illinois, October 5, 1911.

#1279, double rear mount sold to Lon Pickett of Sycamore, Indiana, September 5, 1911. First to be built with Miller reverse, 6' longer front axle and 16' face front wheels. Special draw bar with 3' eye, clutch arranged for pin through flywheel.

#1320, double rear mount sold to the Freeze Threshing Machine Company of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, in 1912. This was a second-hand engine. No notation on who the previous owner was, or if it was renumbered by Keck when Freeze bought it. Keck repaired the crown sheet.

#1355, a single portable sold to James F. McAndrews of Vincennes, Indiana, May 26, 1913.

#1439, single rear mount sold to C. L. Petty of Madison, Oklahoma, March 15, 1915.

#1441, a single rear mount sold to Charles Gregory of More house, Missouri, February 11, 1915. Equipped with 30' wide drivers.

#1459, a single skid engine sold to E. G. Shute of Hazelton, Indiana, April 8, 1916.

#1520, single rear mount sold to Charles Harrison of Sikeston, Missouri, July 28, 1916. This engine taken back and resold to Charles Hazel of Sikeston, Missouri, August 14, 1917. Engine equipped with 30' wide drivers and Special Plow Hitch.

#1552, single rear mount sold to Hubert Stricker of Charleston, Missouri, January 18, 1919.

Some interesting facts about the above information are as follows: one skid engine, three portable engines, seven single rear mount engines, and either eight or nine (remember #1320 sold to Freeze Company. I don't know if it was renumbered or not) double rear mount engines. The years of manufacture run from 1908 to 1919.

With due respect to the memories of those who operated these engines, I find no evidence or mention of these engines being built for the Canadian trade. In fact, Keck-Gonnerman Company did not start mounting their engines on butt and strap A.S.M.E. boilers until about 1921 or 1922. Considering that these engines were lap joints, I don't think that they would have operated at anymore than 150 mawp. The last mention of these engines is in Keck-Gonnerman catalog #32 for 1921.

It is interesting to note that several of the engines were sold in close proximity to one another in southeast Missouri and Arkansas. This is probably due to the fact that Freeze Threshing Machine Company was an agent for Keck-Gonnerman Company in that area. A friend of mine, who lived in the Cape Girardeau area at one time, had a Freeze advertising calendar which had a picture of the 25 HP double engine they owned on it.

Being from Oklahoma, it was interesting for me to discover that one of these engines was sold out here. The C. L. Petty engine #1439 came out in 1915. After many phone calls to the Beaver County Historical Society, I came up with the name of one of Mr. Petty's grandsons who now lives in Mesa, Arizona. Upon calling him and discussing the engine, he told me that as a young boy, he remembers the engine sitting unused behind the barn. He would play on it, working the levers and pretending it was an airplane. When he returned from flying torpedo bombers for the U.S. Navy in World War II, the old Keck had been scrapped. He also told me that the engine used to run his grandfather's 36' x 60' Nichols & Shepard Red River Special thresher.

I found a photo of engine #1246, the Fred Guhl (pronounced jewel) engine in a recently found 1913 Freeze T. M. Company catalog. The other photo is of this engine threshing rice on the William F. Koehn farm about eleven miles north of Stuttgart, Arkansas, in 1912.

A few other interesting facts before I bring this to a close. It was said that Keck-Gonnerman didn't provide repairs for these engines. According to my repair and price list #15, pages 48-50 for singles and pages 71-74 for doubles, all parts were available from Keck, including the double crankshaft; cipher code: Apthong . . . crankshaft 311/16' double throw . . . $125.00.

To my knowledge, none of these engines have survived although some 20 & 22 rear mounts with 30' drivers are said to be 25's. Another interesting fact is that the catalogs list the 25 singles as having a 9 x 12 cylinder. At least #1246 and #1439 had 10 x12 cylinders. This is a larger cylinder than some other makers' 30 HP engines. This makes one wonder what one of these engines could have done with a good Brennan A.S.M.E. boiler at 175 lbs. and a balanced valve.

If anyone has any more information on the Keck-Gonnerman 25's, I would like to see it show up in the pages of IMA.