Like One of the Family: 1913 Gaar-Scott Engine

Three generations embrace the steam traction tradition with a 1913 Gaar-Scott engine.


| March 2015



The Mitchell men with the Gaar-Scott steam engine

The Mitchell men run the 1913 25-75 single-cylinder Gaar-Scott steam traction engine at Western Minnesota Steam Threshers' Reunion at Rollag, Minn., each year. Left to right: Larry, Brady, Justin and Dale Mitchell.

Photo by Bill Vossler

The 1913 Gaar-Scott steam engine that the Mitchell family of Kindred, North Dakota, pour time and energy into isn’t, in fact, their engine. But for all the attention they give it, it might as well be.

Each year, family members spend four days running the 25 hp single-cylinder engine at the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion in Rollag, Minnesota. They put the engine on the prony brake, they join in the daily parade and they engage onlookers in a variety of ways. In one recent parade, the audience was delighted to see a John Deere GreenStar GPS receiver that had been installed on the engine, complete with a dummy string for an authentic touch.

The Gaar-Scott was originally purchased from a Conrad, Montana man by the late Floyd Brudevold, who took the engine to Rollag in 1968. He was told that the engine had been used to break the Montana sod and had done a lot of plowing, and that seems likely to Larry Mitchell.

“When we were standing at the engine next to another one used in the sawmill, you could tell the difference,” Larry says. “The gears on this engine are its weakest part. They show years and years of wear. We had to rebuild the intermediate gear on this engine about a dozen years ago.”

Today, Darrel Brudevold, a Page, North Dakota, farmer, owns the engine. “Generally he is harvesting during the Rollag show,” Larry says, “so he isn’t always able to be there. But we are. My brother Dale and Darrel graduated from high school together. They got involved with the Gaar-Scott first.”

Larry is only half kidding when he talks about his family’s involvement in old iron. “I always say that we started collecting IH stuff in 1929, when Grandpa bought a brand new Farmall Regular that is still in the family,” he says. “Dad was always into old engines and tractors. Dale and I and our boys followed suit. Once it got into our blood, it just stayed there.”