Steam Schools


| February 2009

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Steam traction engines claim not only a hefty physical presence but also a vast legacy in agricultural history-increasing productivity and paving the way for farming today. But as gasoline tractors began their climb to dominance, steam slid slowly into obscurity. With it also went most of the knowledge and experience required to master such a beast of a machine. However, several organizations across the country work to retain that portion of history - by holding yearly steam schools. Check out these listings to find a steam school near you in 2009.


12th Annual Somerset Steam School

Somerset Steam and Gas Engine Assn.

Somerset, Va.

April 18-19

Tuition: $75

Fairfield View Dairy Farm. Registration is required, and tuition includes all materials and two lunches.

For more information:
Bill Roberts
14375 Blue Ridge Turnpike
P.O. Box 492
Somerset, VA 22972
(540) 672-2495

Old Threshers Reunion Steam School

Midwest Old Threshers

Mt. Pleasant, Iowa

April 25-26

Tuition: $50

Registration is required. Tuition includes materials and two noon meals. The course stresses classroom and hands-on experience. The first day consists of class work with slides, videos and discussions, while the second day is hands-on operation.

For more information:
Terry McWilliams
Public Relations and Marketing
405 E. Threshers Rd.
Mt. Pleasant, IA 52641
(319) 385-8937


Rough & Tumble Steam School - FULL

Rough & Tumble Engineers Historical Assn.

Kinzers, Pa.

May 16 and May 30

Tuition: $60

Enrollment is limited to Rough & Tumble members and the first 22 applicants. Tuition includes all materials. The course emphasizes safety, maintenance, operation and hands-on experience.

Classroom time is half of the first day, with remaining time dedicated to practical hands-on experience, including cleaning, inspection, maintenance and operation. Students will be introduced to operating railroad engines and a steamroller.

For more information:
John Johnson
(717) 442-4249

9th Annual Steam School

Central States Threshermen

Pontiac, Ill.

May 16-17

Tuition: $40

Threshermen's Park, two miles north of Interstate 55 on Route 23. Registration required and limited to 50. Classes begin at 8 a.m.

For more information:
David Schott
620 S. Vermillion St.
Pontiac, IL 61764
(815) 842-3129

9th Annual Steam School

Heritage Park of North Iowa

Forest City, Iowa

May 16-17

Tuition: $25

This is a beginner's class. Tuition covers the cost of lunches and handouts for both days. Class emphasis is on types of boilers, basic boiler operation, safety devices, proper boiler start-up and shut-down procedures, use of injectors and pumps, forced draft injection, firing a boiler under load, holding constant steam pressure, and how to handle emergency situations.

Steam engine topics include basic operation of the steam engine, starting and stopping the engine, how the valve gear and steam engine governor work, and how to lubricate the engine and drivetrain. Under an instructor's supervision, students will steam-up and have the opportunity to operate several steam traction engines.

At the conclusion of the class, interested students may take an exam modeled on the Minnesota hobby engineer test.

The Heritage Park website has registration information and the most up-to-date and complete information concerning the class.

For more information:
Jerred Ruble, Director of Shows
Heritage Park of North Iowa
754 342nd St.
Hanlontown, IA 50444
(641) 797-2697


Steam Traction Engineering Course

University of Rollag

Steamer Hill, Rollag, Minn.

June 20-21

Tuition: $50

The course runs 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and tuition includes the cost of textbooks and a few meals. Limited to 70 participants. There are no course requirements or age limits, with the exception that individuals wishing to acquire a Minnesota steam traction license must be 18 or older.

Emphasis is on classroom instruction and hands-on training, with more than 10 steam engines, including stationary, traction, miniature and railroad locomotives. The course fulfills 16 of the 50 hours required for a Minnesota traction engineer exam, the "hobby boiler" license. Ohio also approved the course toward licensing.

For more information:
Tom Hall
University of Rollag
Box 999
Moorhead, MN 56561
(218) 233-1771


Steam School

Wisconsin Historical Steam Engine Assn. Inc.

Edgerton, Wis.

Sept. 25-27

Tuition: $50

Rock River Thresheree Show Grounds. Registration is required with a limit of 50 students. Tuition includes textbook, Case steam engine manual, the steam traction engineer checklist, and lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Class starts Friday evening.

Subjects covered include steam theory, boiler construction, operation and maintenance, steam engine components, piping, valves and accessories, prepping an engine for steam up, responding to emergencies, and water treatment. Engines will be steamed up for hands-on training. The American Society of Power Engineers (ASOPE) exam is available for an additional fee of $55.

For more information:
Jeff Bloemers
Wisconsin Historical Steam Engine Assn. Steam School
W. 4597 County Rd. F
Waldo, WI 53093
(920) 564-6292

Know of a steam school not listed here? Tell us about it - so we can include it in next year's listing.

Farm Collector
1503 S.W. 42nd St.
Topeka, KS 66609


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