RR 2,Box 120,Odell, Illinois 60460
Those four words are the beginning of many a good chase for those of us infected with steam fever. On April 14, 1990, my brother John heard of two steam engines that might be for sale, sitting side by side at an old barn yard. The chase was on! On April 19 we were driving up the lane of the farm where the engines sat. A friend, Don Worth, went with us as he had seen the engines before and knew the owner.
We stopped at the house to ask permission to view the old engines. When we knocked on the door we were greeted by Mrs. Art Kent. We introduced ourselves and she told us to go around behind the barn and have a look.
Now, before I go any further, I want to say that I have been to many auctions and, of course, steam events, but what we saw when we drove around that barn was right out of a dream! There had been two old steamers resting in the weeds where they were parked 25 or more years ago. John and I nearly climbed over each other getting out of the truck to get a better look.
There sat a 24 HP Minneapolis and an 18 HP Russell. Well, the next hour or so was spent looking and taking pictures. It didn't take long to see that nature had taken her toll on the old engines, but it also didn't take long to want to buy and restore them to their former shape. We couldn't wait to take them to one or two of the shows we attend. We both had been looking for an engine to bring home and restore, so we decided that if they could be bought at a reasonable price, we would take on the task of restoring them.
John liked the Minneapolis and the old Russell had my eye, so all was settled but the price.
We went back to the house to talk to Mr. Kent about buying the two engines. We didn't settle on the engines that day, as we felt we couldn't give Art's price because of the condition the old steamers were in. We did, however, enjoy his stories of running steam engines when he was younger. Art was 93 years old and had run steam engines during many of his earlier years.
We went home with both engines on our minds and couldn't seem to stop thinking about them. After a few days and a few phone calls, a price was decided on that made everyone happy. I was now the proud owner of an 18 HP Russell, No. 12458, and John was the proud owner of a 24 Minneapolis, No. 8496. They are both home now and we are in the process of restoring them. I'll have more pictures when they are done.
I would like to hear from other Russell owners who can help me pinpoint the date of my engine. The best I can tell now is that it is a 1905 model.
We also have a 1922 50 HP Case, No. 35425, that our dad, Sam Haley, bought when we were very young. We were brought up around steam. Dad also built a scale Case to add to the family collection.
The one thing that makes this hobby so much fun to me is the wonderful friends made at all the steam events. Having a loving and understanding wife, when you bring home the good news of the rusty old steamer you just bought, is also very important. But, since my wife Sue and I were introduced at a steam show, she knew what she was getting into.
Well, if time permits maybe the old Russell and Minneapolis will be running by Showtime 1991. Then, maybe it will be back to the chase again!