We thank the editor of The Messenger newspaper of Madisonville, Kentucky for giving permission to use the article done by Ann Brown for their paper Anna Mae.
Willis Wilcox, Madisonville sign painter, has an unusual hobby. He is a miniature steam engine enthusiast. For the past seven years, in his spare time, Wilcox has been tinkering with a two-inch scale model of the 1915 J. I. Case, 65 HP, full-working miniature steam traction engine.
And now the little engine is complete, and it works beautifully. The little engine, all shiny and new, is 44 inches long, 15 inches wide and 21 inches tall. The rear wheels are 12 inches in diameter while the front wheels are eight inches in diameter. The cylinder is 1 and 5/8 inches by 1 and inches with a 6 11-16 inch fly wheel.
THIS TWO-INCH scale model traction engine is a powerful little piece of machinery, capable of pulling several people. It can be powered with burning charcoal briquets, wood or coal, and is a perfect copy of the original.
Wilcox used many, many pieces in the construction of the engine, tabulating them as he used them. The final count showed 153 bronze castings, one cast iron fly wheel and crank disc. The castings are not machined in any way. Other parts used consist of about 380 separate items, most made by hand, or about 1,750 separate parts if every bolt and rivet were counted.
ALL MATERIALS used by Wilcox in the construction of this little engine were developed from information supplied by the J. I. Case Co. and are authentic and true to scale.
The engine, under 87 pounds of steam, pulled a 150 pound man, riding on a packing crate, in a sled-fashion drag.
The engine took seven years of Wilcox's spare time to build but he enjoyed every minute spent on the project. It gave him something to look forward to as one item at a time was machined.
'When a fellow becomes a steam buff, the past lives again,' Wilcox states. 'By-gone dreams become a reality. You always have something to talk about. It's hard to explain, but you never tire of working with a project like this.'
And from the gleam in his eye, you can tell he really means it when he says he 'actually loves working with his hobby.