60 HP Geiser before restoration

William E. Hall

Content Tools

15700 Santini Road, Burtonsville, Maryland 20730.

This story is about an engine that was looked at by some of the better steam engine men and they agreed that the bucket of rust could never be fixed. My friend, Mr. William Waters and I looked and I agreed. After a wasted afternoon, we decided to waste the evening. Soon our good sense gave way to the inevitable and the obvious decision was made. It was not our first impossible job and may not be our last.

The crate of rivets and parts was what was left of a 60 hp, yes 60 hp, not U U Geiser engine, No. 18263. The engine was built by the Geiser works of the Emerson-Brantingham Co. in Waynesboro, Pa. It was the last engine built for the year 1921. The last engine built by Geiser was 18298, so you can see that we have one of the last of a proud line.

It should be noted at this time that they replaced the 'R' 'T' 'U U' with the 40, 50, 60 HP engines and discontinued all others due to declining sales of steam engines.

Bill Waters and I purchased the engine in partnership and started to work. It consisted of a well-rusted boiler, broken rear axle, disassembled gears, rotten cab and no smokestack. These were the minor items. After 5 trips of 300 miles each we had replaced the axle, assembled the gears, and discarded the remains of several other things. I was beginning to feel as if I had made a mistake. With the help of Mr. John Brian's two sons who drive a tractor trailer for him and my old 56 Ford pick-up, we got the pieces home.

After a complete tube job, building up the front flue sheet, and a section of boiler including 21 stay bolts, we were ready to go. We took it to the National Trolley Museum and it created quite a sensation. We ran it for a year but never took it to a steam show. We found that it needed more work and we will never take it to a show until it is right. At this point I bought out my partner's share and became the sole owner.

It was at this time that another young man entered the picture. He is Edgar C. Adams, and currently in the U. S. Navy. He is a steam man from the word go, and especially likes Geiser. Despite his navy career, it was not long before he owned No. 18263. We all work together on steam engines and it is one happy group. It consists of Eddie, his wife, Betsy, his three brothers-in-law Bobby, Dwight, Joe, and parents, friends, relatives, and sometimes me.

The engine was originally bought by Mr. John T. Fogle of New Midway, Md., who went to the factory to get the engine. I cannot state the exact date, but it probably was about 1923, as many manufacturers had engines in stock that had been built earlier.

The history of the engine comes from Mr. R. Brantly Keeny, who knew the engine when it was new. He says that Mr. Fogle got 40 $100 bills from the Woodsboro Md. bank and went to the factory and ran it home to save the freight. He had made the deal through Collins & Grosnickle of Frederick, Md. He traded in his 'U' Geiser because it would not pull his 32-54 Rumely thresher. They ran it home in two days with his brother driving the truck to haul coal and water, and Mr. Howard Keeny to fire it.

They then put it on a sawmill until threshing season to try it out. After some troubles with it, they finally got it straightened out. He threshed 18 hundred bushels in one ten hour day and was quite pleased with it. This was considered a good amount here in the east.

When he got to running it on the road, he soon broke a rear axle. The company replaced this one, but it was not long before he broke the second axle, and this one had to be shipped in from Illinois and took 4 days . . . this did not please him at all. He never liked a gas tractor, but he said that if they ever made one with as much power as his steamer he would consider it. Mr. Collins got him a 30-60 Rumely and let him try it out, and the deal was finally made.

Mr. Notnagle of Frederick, Md. bought the 60 and used it some, then sold it to a Mr. Wacter. He used it until the combine took over and then it was sold at a public sale. It was bought back to Mr. Notnagle, who sold it to Keller Smith & Sons of nearby Wolfesville. I might point out that Mr. Notnagle was a Machinery dealer, thresherman and did general repair work. They used it on 3 farms to thresh with and on a sawmill in the off season. They left it setting in the woods at the sawmill site when they quit running it.

It sat there for a good many years, and was finally sold to a Mr. Lingg of New Oxford, Penna. Kline Construction Co. of Frederick, Md. went in with a bulldozer to pull it out, and it caught between two trees and they broke the third axle. They finally got it on a low boy and hauled it to Mr. Lingg's. The rear axle was a weak point in this design engine, but Bill Waters and I believe we have found a way to help the situation. After Mr. Lingg started to work on it, he suffered a heart attack and realized he could not finish the work. He then sold it to a Mr. Marshall in New York. I am told that after buying it, he found out that due to the boiler repairs required, he would have trouble getting it past the state inspection. Mr. Lingg offered to try to resell it for him. It was at this time that Bill Waters and I entered upon the scene. Now another of our black, greasy Iron Monsters is almost ready to run again.

When it does make its debut at a show it will be in the hands of some of the gang that helped to restore it, and some are in their teens. I am the oldest at 39 and quite proud to see the younger take the interest that they have in this work. I have worked with them since a child and quite frequently one of them will ask me a question that sends me to the text books for the answer.

Anyone having information on the 60 hp Geiser engine taken from catalogs, flyers, brochures, or photos we would appreciate hearing from you. In particular the years made, the number made, etc. Please contact me or Edgar Adams at his home address, 4428 Haverford Dr., Norbeck, Md. 20850.

In closing I would like to thank Mr. Frank Notnagle, Jr. of Frederick, Md. Mr. R. Brantly Keeny of Woodsboro, Md., and Mr. Truman Keeny of Jefferson, Md., for their help in supplying information on the engine.

I can only repeat what I always say, Please help our young people to learn so that our engines can be kept running in the future.