Surrounded by Steam Engines

Venture into a home surrounded by Steam Engines and follow Jack Strand through this impressive mechanical collection.

| April 2020

This circa-1875 36hp Atlas steam engine was used in the Gluek Brewery in Minneapolis until the 1930s. Photo by Nikki Rajala.

It’s not just anybody who has a steam engine in every room of the house. “I even have one in the bathroom,” says 87-year-old Jack Strand of Plano, Texas. “My wife lets me do that – two of the engines are hers, in fact – and she has her hobbies too.”

Jack’s interest in steam engines probably began in his childhood. He grew up on a Minnesota farm and helped with the threshing there until the family moved when he was about 9. “After we left, two ladies lived on the farm, and I cultivated and plowed for them,” he says, “but after that I didn’t spend a lot of time on the farm.”

Instead, he worked as a bricklayer, which inadvertently launched a collection. “I bought a cement mixer and used a 1-1/2hp International Harvester Model LA engine on it,” he says. “I fell in love with that engine. That’s what got me started. My work became my hobby, and I started buying gasoline engines.”

This Buffalo Forge steam engine is part of the permanent collection at the Scott-Carver Threshers’ Assn., Jordan, Minn. Photo by Bill Vossler.

Jack also started collecting steam engines, including a road roller and a pair of Atlas steam engines, and the occasional old tractor. Today he enjoys a collection of hot air engines and Stirling model engines built from kits. “That’s what I’ve had during my later years,” he says. “I sold my big ones, but I still have the smaller ones.”


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