1902 New Giant Steam Traction Engine Restoration

Detailed restoration of New Giant steam traction engine takes patience and skill

| July/August 2000

Wayne Kennedy of Danville, Iowa, is the owner and restorer of a rare 1902 New Giant traction steam engine. From all accounts, his latest undertaking may be the true definition of a total restoration effort. Besides having restored several engines, Wayne has exhibited at the annual Old Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, for 26 years and has served on the Board of Directors for 14. A significant part of his New Giant's history is interwoven in the Old Threshers Reunion.

Milo Mathews of Mt. Union, Iowa, a long-time exhibitor at the Old Threshers Reunion, purchased the New Giant at Oscar Nelson's sale in Utica, Nebraska, in 1951. The Giant was the cover photo of the 1952 May-June issue of IMA with this caption. "Here is an unusually well preserved and restored New Giant. It was exhibited at Mt. Pleasant (in 1951) and created a lot of attention."

After Mathews' death, the New Giant and a handful of other engines were sold at his estate sale in 1985 on the Old Threshers grounds. The New Giant was purchased by a young couple who showed it at the 1986 Reunion before putting it in storage.

"The engine was in barely-running condition and people wondered what would happen with it," Wayne remembers.

In the mid-1990s, the engine's owner began visiting with Wayne to see if she could persuade him to buy it. "I wasn't interested in it. I basically told her what she had was a big pile of nothing. It needed everything."

Faced with seeing the historic engine sold away from the area or "turned into a flower planter," he ended up buying it to keep anything from happening to it.