40 HP Case Steam Engine on the Incline at Kansas Show

1983 Ternings Steam and Gas Engine Show

| September/October 1983

  • 40 HP engine

  • 40 HP engine
    Tom Terning climbing the Case wooden incline on his 40 HP engine.
  • Avery 120 HP

  • 40 HP engine
  • 40 HP engine
  • Avery 120 HP

Upon entering the Ternings Steam and Gas Engine Show one was greeted with an awesome looking structure looming high into the air. It strongly resembled a bridge that someone started and forgot to finish.

However, as the day progressed, the announcer Mr. Jim Thomas of Grafford, Texas, began giving bits and pieces of information out concerning the structure. It soon became evident that this structure was to become one of the main highlights of the entire show. As Mr. Thomas explained, 'This case wooden incline or case ramp you see at this show today is the only one known to exist. Very few people have ever attempted to climb one of these ramps with a full sized steam engine.' For the benefit of those thousands in attendance who were not too familiar with a steam engine he further explained, 'there are no brakes on a steam engine such as you are familiar with on your car. There are no sides on the ramp or the platform.'

There were several people at the show who, in years past, had climbed the incline similar to this one. However, it was rumored that their wives would no longer permit it!! It seems that wives get all the blame for everything these days. Whatever the truth was, it soon became quite evident that Tom Terning and his 40 HP Case traction engine were to be the only challengers for this event. By the way, Tom's wife was not available for comments!

Tom's son, Aaron, plus several of his friends, Doug and Dan Base, and Frank Harper, assisted in getting the incline ready for the climb. The engine was being held in readiness by Tom's assistant, Joe Mitchem. Just the right amount of fire, steam pressure, and water had to be strictly adhered to. The governor belt was removed and up the incline it went. About half-way up, the massive machine appeared to hesitate. With the controls being maneuvered just so, the front wheels came clearly off the ramp. The crowd became very quiet and all appeared to move back a bit. With a slight lurch, the engine progressed up the ramp and came to a halt on the platform. A short tug on the whistle announced his victory. With more maneuvering, the engine was backed off the ramp. The spectators cheered and many came over to question Tom concerning his climb to victory.

Not far from the ramp another magnificent structure was pulling the eight bottom plow as if it were a toy. Mr. 'Avery' Sullivan was skillfully mastering the 120 HP Avery steam traction engine up and down the field. His able bodied assistant, Mr. Hardy Wunsch of Goddard, Kansas, was close at hand. As the announcement was being made that the fast races were about to begin, the Avery turned toward the race track. Some snickers were heard and comments such as 'I wonder if they have it confused with the slow race,' or 'Oh well, someone has to come in last.' These comments did not appear to dampen the spirits of the two engineers. They took their place in the line-up waiting for the signal. When the signal was finally given, the only thing one could see was a lot of black smoke!! A voice could be heard thru the smoke and noise it was believed to be that of Hardy saying, 'Pour the cobs to herpour the cobs to her!' Whether that was the inspiration for the Avery to surge ahead one can only guess. When the smoke was beginning to clear, it was clearly evident who had won the race. There sat the Avery at the finish line waiting for the Reeves, the Frick, the Huber, the Nichols, and a few others who were too far behind to distinguish, to cross the finish line. The two engineers had broad grins. In fact, some people even said that if you looked closely, the Avery appeared to be smiling also!! The Avery did not enter the fast race any of the remaining days Mr. Sullivan said he wanted to give others a chance. The Avery continued to plow and pull the Baker fan plus thresh a little wheat to stay in shape. Dale Miner of Fairfield, Ohio also assisted with the Avery.

Avery 120 HP owned by Tom and Aaron Terning of Valley Center, Kansas. The engine is being operated by Mr. 'Avery' Sullivan of Wichita, Kansas.


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