Kestler's Hardware

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We don't have quite as many letters in this issue as we've had in the past few, and we think there's a good reason for that: our readers are out exhibiting their wares, and taking in the engine shows that are going on all over this continent!

And when you come home from a show and get your photos developed, write us a few lines and send us a show report. Now, to the letters:

Case steam plowing outfit owned by my father, George Kestler, breaking sod near Haxtun, Colorado. This picture was copied from a postcard dated 6/28/15. Dad wrote on the card he had plowed 1,000 acres and had 1,500 more to do. A cook shack accompanied the outfit. Dad is wearing white hat with dog at his knee. The women are my mother, her sister and my grandmother. The engine is a 1909 Case 25 HP. Note steering arrangement. Photo courtesy of Melvin Kestler.

This is a copy of a letter to SHERWOOD W. HUME, 9313 4th Line, RR #5, Milton, Ontario, Canada L9T 2X9, written by MELVIN KESTLER, 1051 Monte Largo Drive NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87123, dated April 28, 1997.

I was quite impressed with your article regarding the 'Restoration Of An Engine' in the May/June 1997 issue of the IMA. You wrote an exciting story of how you had a complete new boiler made and installed on your engine.

So many of us engineers in the hobby have wondered what it would be like to have a new boiler made for our engines. For many reasons, I think you made the right decision in having the new boiler made. The $30,000 investment can be fully recovered should you wish to sell the engine. A patched up old unsafe boiler is not good business. As time goes on many other engine owners are going to have to install new boilers or quit our great hobby. Your step-by-step, how-to, article is really enlightening and shows the rest of us engine owners what will be required in the future for many of us. There is a great satisfaction in owning something really nice. You also have a moral responsibility to other people around your engine during shows.

George Kestler, my father, threshing with my uncle George Land's 25-85 Nichols & Shepard engine #13866 near Farnam, Nebraska, on 8/23/31. This engine and separator were shipped new from the N & S factory in 1929. This engine was used only for threshing for two years. After Land's death in 1932, the engine was sold to Andy Hazen of Farnam for $350. Hazen filled the boiler with used motor oil and stored the engine for 34 years. Chet Sawyer, Bird City, Kansas, purchased the engine in 1966 for $1200. Sawyer sold it in 1970 to N. B. Martinson, Sheffield, Iowa, for $4250. Martinson now has this like new engine at the Dalton, Minnesota engine show. Photo courtesy of Melvin Kestler.

Nichols and Shepard steam threshing outfit owned by George Kestler. Dad is standing on top of the separator. The 25-85 HP double cylinder engine was rear mounted. Wooden separator was a 44' cylinder size. This new outfit was shipped from the N & S Lincoln factory branch in 1918. After the war before I bought my outfit, I spent many days trying to find this rig but the junk man beat me to it. On 8/11/21 the Haxtun, Colorado, Harvest newspaper stated Dad and his large steam outfit moved four times in one day and set a record by threshing 2,670 bushels of wheat over 44 wagonloads. This engine did considerable plowing. Dad said he made enough on his first plowing job with this engine to pay for it. Photo taken near Haxtun in 1919. Courtesy Melvin Kestler.

On the day of purchase from Al Deerk, old time thresherman, for $250 on 2/26/53. Note 8' spoked extension rims and cover on smokestack. The front flue sheet and smokebox bottom were just like new; the six boiler hand holes were in perfect shape. The grates and firebox were in good condition. The original contractor's bunkers did not lean and are still on the engine. Despite its looks the engine was in good operating condition and was coated with layers of grease.

Case outfit arriving in Twin Falls, Idaho, after traveling from Bird City in 1969. Both photos courtesy of the Twin Falls Times-News.

Case outfit arriving in Twin Falls, Idaho, after traveling from Bird City in 1969. Both photos courtesy of the Twin Falls Times-News.

Kestler's steam engine outfit at the Antique Engine & Threshers Show at Bird City, Kansas, where the outfit was shown and demonstrated for 17 years before moving to Twin Falls, Idaho. The Case separator is 40' size

The outfit is now owned by Clarence Young of Great Falls, Montana. The engine carries 150 lbs. steam and weighs 13.5 tons in working order. Sign on the top reads 'Kestler's Hardware, Benkelman, Nebr.'

'The purchase and restoration of my 1915 Case 65 engine in 1953 is small change compared to your expenditures and makes us realize what this inflation has done to our economy, and also where the prices of our remaining hobby engines are headed for in the future.

You mentioned Willis Abel in your story. At a recent Barnes' engine show in Belgrade, Montana, Willis treated fourteen of us to a nice steak dinner including Austin and Mildred Monk, Gary Yaeger, Clarence and Dean Young, etc. Austin pulls twenty 14' John Deere plows at Belgrade with his big double cylinder Peerless 120 HP engine. It was a thrill for me to be able to plow with this big engine. Gary is a Reeves specialist. Clarence now owns my Case 65 outfit. I have not heard any recent news regarding Willis' project of building a 150 HP Case. I have met some great people in this steam engine business. 'Hope you enjoyed my enclosed pictures with their related stories.'