The ULTIMATE Surprise


50 HP Case

Content Tools

Ternings Steam Show 7701 N. Hoover Valley Center, Kansas 67147

I think all of us at one time or another have been surprised by what somebody has done for us or given to us. It just leaves you with a warm feeling inside. I want to share the following story with you because Tom, Aaron and I felt honored that Larry and Mark Doehling selected our show over the 1988 Labor Day weekend to present their father, Ed Doehling, the surprise of his life. I will give you a bit of background on what led up to this event.

Ed Doehling, along with his sons Mark and Larry, had attended our 1987 Steam Show and had assisted with its functions. They had such a great time they decided to make Labor Day weekend in Valley Center a part of their 1988 schedule as well. When 1988 rolled around Ed and his lovely wife arrived, but no Mark or Larry. Ed explained that something had come up and that perhaps they could come later. Ed proceeded to assist the Ottaway family with their steam carousel. Completely unknown to Ed was the fact that his sons had been carefully planning the purchase of a steam engine for their father. They had looked at several engines and had talked with Tom about various aspects of the different engines.

They decided on a 1916 Case 50 HP, Serial number 33661. It belonged to Bruce McCourtney of Syracuse, Nebraska. The engine was stored at Table Rock, Nebraska. This 50 HP Case had been shipped to Ed West, a Case dealer in Dunbar, Nebraska. He sold it to a five-man threshing crew near Dunbar in May of 1918. The only engineer on the threshing crew was George Fenske, who worked the winter months in Lincoln, Nebraska at the Case Factory Branch rebuilding engines and separators and getting new ones ready to sell. Mr. Fenske took excel-lent care of the engine. Several years later the crew traded the Case back to Ed West for a larger Port Huron. Mr. West had the engine until 1950 when he sold it to Bruce McCourtney.

Much planning by the Doehling family was done in preparation for the trip to Valley Center and attempting to sneak this engine past their father's eyes until the right moment arrived for its presentation.

As soon as Mom and Dad Doehling left for Valley Center on Friday, September 2nd, Mark, Larry, and Larry's wife Janice jumped into action. The camper was packed and the semi-trailer was made ready for the trip to load the Case engine. They left early Saturday morning, September 3rd to pick up the engine from Mr. McCourtney. Loading went well and the Doehlings left Table Rock around noon.

The trip to Valley Center went well. They arrived about the time things were beginning to wind down for the day. However, there were still people riding the carousel so their father was busy and did not even notice the semi come within 75 feet of his nose. They drove behind one of the buildings and then proceeded to find their parents. They found them already out in the parking lot ready to get cleaned up and visit with friends. They were tired but Mark and Larry talked them into getting into the Suburban and giving them a quick tour of the show grounds. Mom and Dad agreed and off they went. It did not take long to get to the place where the semi and engine had been placed. They drove right behind the semi and asked their dad whose engine this was and why in the world was it still on the semi? Ed was a bit puzzled and said he did not know. Mom said she had seen it come in but did not know, either, whose it was. Ed then spotted the Nebraska license plate and also the Butler County number on the tag. Ed then said to the boys, 'Well I wonder whose engine this is?' They then replied, 'It's yours, Dad!!' I was told this was the very FIRST TIME they had ever seen their dad speechless!!! Everyone piled out and it was not long before Ed, Mark, and Larry were up on the semi looking the engine over. It took a while for it to soak in. In fact, I saw Ed several hours later and he still had a bit of a dazed look on his face. In the excitement, a photo was not taken of the exact moment but, I think all of you can imagine just what it must have been like. I just wish you all could have been there to share this very special time with this very special family. Ed said he was wiping the smoke from his eyes from running the carousel all day! However, I believe there was a hint of something else welling up in his eyes.

September 5, 1988 after the 4 a.m. steam up: Larry, Ed and Mark Doehling taken at the Terning's 11th annual steam show in Valley Center, Kansas.

The next project was to get the engine ultrasonic tested, replumbed, and hydro tested so it could hopefully be fired up the next day. It was found to be in excellent condition. Mark, Larry, Tom, and Dr. Scott Altenbach of Albuquerque, New Mexico worked well into the night to achieve this task. It was around 4 a.m. when the mighty Case came to life once again.

The engine is now getting a new paint job and lots of tender loving care. It will be on the semi heading for steam shows in 1989.

Congratulations to the Doehling family who have preserved another piece of our American heritage for future generations to marvel at.