I'm writing this in January, so the Christmas just past is still fresh in my memory. It proved to be another Christmas that I found no Minneapolis-Moline UDLX under my tree. I keep trying to be the best boy I know how to be, but Santa never comes through. I can't really complain though, since on Christmas morning, I found a large package that couldn't possibly be a shirt. I eagerly opened it and found ... a 65 hp Case steam traction engine!
The Ertl Company of Dyersville, Iowa, has introduced a new line of models they call Millennium Farm Classics. So far, the series includes the 65 hp Case steamer, as well as a great model of the Froelich tractor, originally built in 1892, and considered to be the granddaddy of the long green line from Deere and Co.
Ertl seems to have positioned the Millennium Farm Classics line between their higher priced, and more detailed Precision series, and the regular edition shelf models. Although probably not quite up to the standard of the Precision models, the Case 65 hp has plenty of detail, and for less than $100, it's a good buy (or at least Santa thought so).
The model comes encased snugly between two blocks of Styrofoam inside an 18" x 19" x 9-1/2" cardboard box. The sides of the box have large left- and right-side color photos of the model, as well as images of the Eagle on the Globe logo of the J.I. Case Threshing Machine Co. On top is a three-quarter front view of the model, while on one end is a close-up photo of the flywheel, pump, operating levers, drive gear train, and the rivet detail on the boiler. On the other end, a very brief history of the machine (not very accurate, as I discovered) and a photograph of Jerome Increase Case himself completes the colorful graphics.
This is a really hefty model, measuring 16" long and 8" high to the top of the smoke stack, while tipping the scales at about 7 or 8 pounds. Built in the popular 1/16 scale, the boiler, fire box, water tank and coal bunkers are metal, diecast in one piece, with a full complement of seams and rivets. The smokebox door, with a cast-in eagle and globe, looks almost as though it would open. The drive wheels (with spokes and lugs), the front wheels, and the front axle with steering arms and springs, are metal as well.
Most of the other parts are of injection molded plastic and exhibit exquisite detail. The flywheel sports the correct type B friction clutch. The geared pump and the moveable clutch lever, as well as the throttle and reversing gears, are all mounted at the proper place on the quadrant shelf. The reversing lever (which doesn't move) is connected to the accurately scaled Woolf reversing mechanism, which connects to the rocker arm, which works the valve stem. The steel-shell, feedwater heater is mounted along the left side of the boiler, and is connected to the cylinder, on top of which sits the flyball governor. Other details include the engine running board and steps; piston rod and cross head; connecting rod and crank disc; a steam gauge, complete with a tiny white needle, tic marks and the words 'steam pressure'; two whistles; the water column, with gauge (not glass, just black plastic) and valves; moveable rocking grate lever; front draft lever; and the injector valve and piping.
The steering wheel, with turning handle, operates a scale-sized worm and pinion gear set, and turns the steering drum, which is grooved for the steering chain. The metal chain links look scale size, and are hooked to the simulated cast buffer springs at each end of the front axle. Steering response is just like on a real traction engine: it takes many turns of the steering wheel to turn the front wheels from one side to the other. The front axle rocks on the bolster to keep all four wheels on the ground in uneven terrain.
Now for the best part! Ertl has built the model with all the shafts and gears required to move the machine, and to make most of the components work. Turning the flywheel turns the crankshaft pinion gear, the intermediate gear, and the differential gear on the countershaft. The countershaft pinions drive the large traction wheel gears and ... the machine moves! Not only that, but the pump drive gear causes the pump yoke and plunger to move back and forth. The eccentric and eccentric strap revolve around the crank shaft, imparting movement to the valve stem by way of the sliding block and crank. The crank disc turns, and the connecting rod moves the cross head back and forth in its slide, causing the piston rod to move in and out of the cylinder. A pulley on the crank shaft drives a black rubber belt to the governor (the governor pulley turns with the belt, but not the governor balls).
The color scheme on my model is probably not accurate, but it looks good. The smoke box and stack, boiler and steam dome, fire box, platform, water tank and coal bunkers, are all matte black, as are the steps and most of the piping and valves. The wheels, front axle, and drive gears and shields are red. The feedwater heater, engine, governor, valve gear, geared pump, flywheel, quadrant shelf and levers are green. The whistles and associated pipes are a gold color to simulate brass. There is a Case decal on the smoke box door, the feedwater heater, the cylinder front, and the rear of the right coal bunker. On the rear of the other bunker is the big J.I. Case Threshing Machine Co. decal, and there's red and white striping on the water tank and both bunkers. A couple of eagle on the globe decals, and, to simulate the brass builder's plate, a tiny, oval gold decal on the right front of the smoke box add the finishing touch. A removable, green metal canopy is provided.
I guess I got a little carried away in describing the Case 65 hp model, but it really is great. If you get a chance to examine one of Ertl's Millennium Farm Classic models, I think you'll be as impressed as I am. I can't wait to see what they'll choose for the next offering. FC
Ever since his days as a boy on a farm in western Pennsylvania, Sam Moore has been interested in tractors, trucks and machinery. Now a resident of Salem, Ohio, he collects antique tractors, implements and related items.