Replica Case Road Locomotive Comes to Life

A North Dakota man defies the odds to hand-build a complete, authentic, working replica of a 1904 Case 150hp Road Locomotive.

| December 2018

  • Case Road Locomotive replica
    Power steering was a radical new concept in 1904, but an essential one for a steam engine that weighs in at 30 tons. The 150’s front wheels measure 5 feet tall.
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen
  • gang plow
    The 150 Case, pulling a 24-bottom gang plow (made by connecting a 10- and a 14-bottom plow) in a demonstration at the James Valley show.
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen
  • Caterpillar loader
    When a gut-wrenching “clang” sounded during the 150’s debut at the James Valley Threshing Show in September, a Caterpillar loader was brought in to facilitate repairs. An hour later, the giant was back in business.
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen
  • Road Locomotive pit crew
    The Road Locomotive’s “pit crew” swarmed over the engine when a minor repair was needed during the engine’s debut.
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen
  • Case steam engines
    Measuring 14-1/2 feet wide and 25 feet long, the replica has the capacity to pull loads of 50 tons up a 10-percent grade.
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen
  • building engine rear wheels
    Building the engine’s rear wheels. A total of 600 3/4-inch-diameter rivets were put into each wheel red-hot. A hydraulic squeezer was used to squeeze the rivets together.
    Photo by Kory Anderson
  • engine frame
    Here, Kory is boring the engine frame. All the main bearings and the engine frame were line-bored to ensure perfect accuracy and close running tolerance.
    Photo by Kory Anderson
  • completed rear wheel
    Kory standing by a completed rear wheel with the bull gear installed inside. Each rear wheel measures 8 feet in diameter and weighs 3,500 pounds.
    Photo by Kory Anderson
  • Case archival image
    This original Case archival image of the 150hp Road Locomotive shows the enormity of the engine. The engine’s drive wheels measured 8 feet in height.
    Photo courtesy J.I. Case archival documents

  • Case Road Locomotive replica
  • gang plow
  • Caterpillar loader
  • Road Locomotive pit crew
  • Case steam engines
  • building engine rear wheels
  • engine frame
  • completed rear wheel
  • Case archival image

When Kory Anderson searches for a way to describe the enormity of the famed 150hp Case Road Locomotive built more than a century ago by J.I. Case Threshing Machine Co., Racine, Wisconsin, he compares the Case to the Titanic — but not because the biggest ship of its time turned out to be a disaster.

"The 150hp Case steam engine was built as the largest steam traction engine of its time, but all we have left are the stories and a few pictures," he says. "Ever since I was a little boy, I've been fascinated by it."

Because just nine of the behemoths were built, and none are known to survive, it appears that no one in modern times has seen a 150 Case. That all changed in September 2018. At the James Valley Threshing Show, Andover, South Dakota, Kory unveiled the project that has dominated and shaped every facet of his life for the past 20 years: a hand-built, full-size replica of the 150hp Case.

Over the course of seven years, it took $1.5 million, some 50 people and at least 15,000 hours (including about 3,500 hours of engineering) to reconstruct the 150 Case. Once used to haul heavy freight and plow in vast farm fields at speeds of up to 5mph, the Case 150's usefulness waned in the early 1900s as the nation's rail system expanded and took on the job of transporting heavy loads.



It was inevitable that Kory — who now lives in North Dakota — would be involved in the steam hobby. His parents, Kevin and Donna Anderson, have long played a major role in the James Valley threshing show, and they took Kory along almost from day one.

"I was just 5 days old when my parents took me to my first steam show," he says. "They've always been passionate about preserving the history of agriculture and agricultural equipment. All these years, I couldn't stop thinking about how I could reconstruct what I thought of as the Titanic of tractors."



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