The Good Little Double Keck

20 HP double rear

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Postscript by Stephen W. Dunn Rt 1, Box 1501 Jennings, Oklahoma 74038

Keck-Gonnerman No. 1636, 20 HP double rear mount at Pawnee in 1989. Case separator. Steve Dunn steering/owner, Glenn Whitman, engineer. Engine is in its work clothes.

My 20 HP double rear mounted Keck-Gonnerman #1636 was manufactured in 1922. V.B. & W.H. Davenport ordered this engine November 15, 1921. It was shipped to Brown Station, Missouri on April 25,1922. The engine has 6 ' x 12' cylinders, 44' flywheel, Pickering governor, eccentric plunger pump and a #1 US injector. The drive wheels are cast 74' in diameter and 20' wide with detachable cleats. The boiler is a 47 tube butt strap made by Brennan (Ohio Standard #110).

Sam Myers of Brookville, Ohio and Joe Park of Princeton, Wisconsin helped me with the history of this engine. It looks like #1636 was built in the transition period between the 20 HP 52 tube lap joint boiler and the 47 tube butt strap as used on the 22 HP engines. I wish to thank Sam and Joe for their help.

We never knew much about Keck engines in Oklahoma. I never heard of a Keck, at least in this part of the state. I got #1636 from the Ed Peacock estate at Fulton, Missouri in 1963.

I can remember two very impressive pulls #1636 has made in traction. The first one was the day we fired it up to load on a truck at Fulton. Jim Peacock asked us to pull a 20 HP Reeves up a very steep bank so they could load it. The Reeves had been sitting in this low place for years. We got a large chain and hooked onto the Reeves. We soon found out that the drivers on the Reeves would not turn. It took about 165 lbs. on the Keck to drag the Reeves up this bank with the wheels on the Reeves sliding.

Then in 1975 we moved several old tractors about two miles. A little over one half mile was across a wheat field. This wheat field wasn't real solid, as it was in November and had new wheat growing on it.

The tractors we were moving belonged to Lyman Knapp. Lyman had sold me the round top barn on the north side of the section. He had built a new storage barn on the south side of the section.

We planned this move for some time. The wheat was all planted and I had returned from the custom harvest. We invited in several collector friends and all was ready.

November 1976: 1636 pulling 35 HP Advance and 40 HP Reeves. John Yonkman engineer, Chady Atteberry, steering. Engine now owned by Steve Dunn.

The main power was to be Lyman's 30-60 Aultman & Taylor tractor. I had fired up the Keck just for the trip then we would return with it to my barn. The 30-60 Aultman & Taylor was going to pull Lyman's 35 HP tandem compound Advance and his 40 HP Reeves gas tractor. I was going to pull two smaller old Allis tractors. Lyman's 30-60 Aultman is a good puller. I've seen it start 10 plows in stubble and walk off real nice, but this load was too much for it. The 30-60 would move the load but the engine was pulled clear down. It wasn't that the 30-60 wouldn't pull, we have movies of it slipping the drivers starting this load out in the road. It was just overloaded, so we put the Keck on in the tractor's place. I didn't really know how it would do, as I knew Lyman's 30-60 was a good puller.

The Keck walked off real nice with the load. I couldn't believe how nice #1636 handled this load. John Younkman from Newton, Kansas was the engineer. I steered the engine. In my books, John is a very good engineer. He knew how to pull an engine under a heavy load. I don't believe the steam pressure varied much over five pounds in the two mile pull. John kept it between 160 and 165 lbs. Crossing the wheat field the Keck was real busy.

After turning off the road into the wheat field John stopped the Keck., We talked things over. The engines were cutting in about four or five inches in the soft wheat field. The chain from Keck to Advance and the one from Advance to Reeves 40 had no slack. John had 160 lbs. on the old Keck. He put the reverse in the corner and opened the throttle. The Keck walked off with this load. That day #1636 impressed several good steam men.

I've heard my dad and several other old time steam men say that a double would not start as heavy a load as a single. This may be true, but it would be hard to tell the men that saw #1636 start this load in soft ground.

I own a 20-75 double rear mounted Nichols & Shepard and have run other makes of double rear mounted engines. I would say that the double rear mounted Keck is the best designed for the engineer. You can see off the engine the best of any double rear mount I've run. It is also real nice to fire. The entire engine is well designed. I like the Miller valve gear. It has large joints and runs in a straight line. It doesn't twist, shake, or jump like some gears I've seen. The balanced valves Keck used were extra good. It's a balanced 'D' valve and the best type for traction engines. It has the advantages of a 'D' valve and yet is balanced. Reeves also used this type of valve.

One day I was visiting with Ivan Burns, president of Oklahoma Steam Threshers. I told Ivan that there was no reason to take my 65 Case to Pawnee as there were already three 65's there. There was a nice 20-75 Nichols & Shepard and also a good double Keck. After thinking a minute Ivan said 'Chady, as good an engine as the double Kecks are, it wouldn't hurt to have two at our show.' Ivan also thinks a lot of Keck engines. He owns a 20 HP double rear mount and a 19 HP single side mount.

#1636 has been a pleasure to own and run. It has made several friends in Oklahoma.

Postscript

As a post script to this story I will add the following. In December of 1987 I indirectly acquired the double Keck from Chady. The story of this trade between four good friends would make a good story and may be told in a future article. Anyway, since that time I have put brand new tubes in the boiler, put new piping on and reconditioned the original valves. The engine has gotten new piston rings and has had the piston rods and valve rods chromed. I have also rebuilt the feed water plunger pump, governor, and lubricator. As of this writing I have not yet started the fancying up with paint etc.. The old Keck is still in its work clothes.

I am rather new to this hobby, having only gotten interested in 1982. I became active with Oklahoma Steam Threshers in 1986. In my own case it seems that steam had skipped a generation. My grandfather, Louis Detmer, was an active steam man from the late 1890s to 1947. He owned Gaar Scott and C. Aultman engines, and his last engine was an 18 HP double rear mounted Keck, No. 1410. He was an active thesherman and sawyer in Franklin County, Missouri, near Union.

In closing, I'll add that I recently got a Keck-Gonnerman 36 x 60 Indiana Special wooden separator and hope to thresh with this outfit sometime in the future.