RR #3, Box 381 Danville, Illinois 61832
The winter months are hard on steam engine people. This winter would not be typical for me. It was January 11th, 1991 and my wife Lisa, son Matthew and I were leaving that morning for Kansas. I had monitored the weather conditions and it looked like we would not have any winter storms for the next week. It was about 9:00 when we got everything loaded and left town. I had planned on leaving earlier but when you are taking everything needed for an eleven month old baby you take everything that you think that you could possibly need and then some.
We had a light snow on the ground and the roads were slightly iced. The first leg of our journey was from Danville, Illinois to Sikeston, Missouri where I had to pick up a sixteen-foot tandem axle trailer. Sikeston is home to several trailer manufacturing companies who sell to the general public at considerable savings. I saved about one third on mine, making it worth the trip. This is where most of the trailers in the Midwest are built. We left Sikeston headed to Springfield, Missouri where we had reservations for that night, and on to Valley Center, Kansas the next morning. It was late when we reached Wichita, so we decided to get a room and let my wife and son rest. I was anxious to meet Tom, Lois and Aaron Terning and see my new engine, so I called to let them know that I was in town and would see them in a while.
Upon arriving at the Terning's, I saw lights in the workshop and drove on back to it and parked. When I walked through the door I saw a nice one-half scale Case model that looked like it belonged in a show room. I thought that this engine was too nice to be the one that I had ordered. I told Tom and Lois that I didn't realize that they were going to paint it. They had decided that the weather conditions would make it rust if it were not painted. Tom asked me what I thought of it and I told him that I was very pleased with it which was quite an understatement.
I told Tom that I never had the opportunity to run a model, so he hooked up an air hose to the boiler and pumped it up to one hundred and fifty pounds. I climbed aboard and engaged the clutch, pulled the valve lever back and gently opened the throttle. The model started forward slowly while sounding like a big engine. At that moment I knew that the planning and waiting for this engine was worth it. I had sold a steam engine, a car, and a tractor so that 1 could have this engine built.
It took almost a year to sell my steam engine, and another year to have this engine built. One year to build a good steam engine is not very long, considering how long it takes most people to build an engine.
The next day I showed the engine to my wife and son who were very pleased with it. My wife thought that it was the nicest looking engine that she had ever seen, and my son thought Dad and Mom had just purchased another toy for him. He was convinced that it was his because the steering wheel was the right size and height for him to play with while standing on the operator's platform. I considered trading Matthew to Tom and Lois for the engine but I was afraid that they might take me up on the offer.
Tom showed me everything that needed to be lubricated and how to care for the engine, which was very critical because this engine had never been fired up. I looked at another half-scale Tom had stored at his place to see how the injector was plumbed. I had ordered my engine without the whistle, pop valve, injector, and pressure gauge. I had decided that I could do the plumbing for the injector and blower. Tom will sell an engine in parts, one ready to fire, or any stage in between depending on what the buyer wants. Later that afternoon we left Valley Center headed to Danville, Illinois with the little Case.
It wasn't until the middle of February that I started gathering up parts to complete the Case. I had a pop valve from my Rumely, a one-half inch Penberthy injector which Bob Johnson gave me and a pressure gauge that my dad gave me. Plumbing was something that I had never done before, so it took me several days. I didn't want to be in a hurry because I wanted to plumb it just like the big Case engines.
On April 28th, Dad came over and we fired the little engine up for the very first time. It performed perfectly except we could not get the injector to work. Open the water valve, then the steam valve, and then all the water would go out the overflow with none going into the boiler. I wondered if I had my check valve backwards on my boiler feed line. We took the injector apart and it looked like the parts had been soldered back together. I think that this injector was worn out or had water freeze in it. We decided to get a different injector, but we had to wait until the next weekend. This was the same weekend that the Nashville, Indiana steam and gas show was to be held.
The next Saturday Dad and I went to Al New's in Pendleton, Indiana and purchased two one-half inch U.S. (or Chicago) injectors. We went back home and installed one but with the same results. After reviewing our work Dad decided that we had not plumbed this one up correctly. We weren't used to Chicago injectors. When we redid our plumbing the injector worked perfectly. After all of this we decided that it was not worth the effort to go to the Nashville, Indiana show. I have never been to this show but I know a few of the people who are actively involved with it. I can always talk my wife into going to Nashville, Indiana because the town has 200-300 gift shops where she can do lots of shopping. I like the time of year when it is held, which is the first or second weekend of May. I plan on being there next year.
The next show was held on July 4th-7th at Boswell, Indiana, which the Illiana Antique Power Assn. hosts. This is an excellent show with several nice tractor exhibits. We had my engine there on Friday and Saturday. We took my cut off saw and sawed some slabs from the sawmill with my engine. The club owns a nice sixty horsepower Case steam engine which they fired all four days of the show. The members of this club were very nice and helped with anything that we needed. They presented me with the 'Carter Dalton Award' for my steam engine which was quite a surprise for me. I look forward to seeing those guys again.
On August 17th and 18th the Skinner Farm Museum show was held near Perrysville, Indiana. This show is what I consider to be my home show since the Wabash Valley Steam and Gas Club are the hosts and Dad and I are members. Dad brought his grist mill which we powered with the Case engine. We needed a smaller belt pulley for the engine because it ran the mill too fast. On Sunday we belted up the Case to a full size Baker fan to see if my model would pull it. We attracted quite a crowd around as we were belting up, so when it came time to open the throttle I was a little nervous about what would happen. Dad had a good fire going and the pop valve was about to pop. We had the water glass about three-fourths full. I opened the cylinder cocks and eased open the throttle very slowly while letting the engine build up speed. I closed the cylinder cocks and the engine picked up more speed. At this point I had the throttle about one-third of the way open and the engine was not under any strain. When the throttle reached the halfway point the engine started exhausting just like a full size engine, and the smoke was rolling out of the stack for ten feet. The engine pulled the fan easily with the throttle about two-thirds open. I knew that I wasn't running the fan as fast as a big engine, but my engine was doing a respectable job in spite of its size. Several old timers remarked that a full size engine would have a workout while pulling that fan.
One half scale Case built by Ternings 1990. Owned by the Creeds, Danville, Illinois, shown at Boswell, Indiana show in July 1991.
On Labor Day weekend Dad and I had planned to go to Terning's show in Kansas, but due to Dad's being ill we weren't able to go. My wife has an aunt who lives near Plymouth, Indiana, so I suggested that we go to the La Porte, Indiana show on Sunday. I had never been to the La Porte show, but I heard that it was a good one. Sunday morning was sunny and cool which was perfect weather. When we arrived at 9:30 that morning, before I could get out of the truck, there were several men who helped unload my engine and helped me get my engine fired up. They even got a shovel full of hot coals to jump start my engine. If you don't think that there are any good people left in today's world, go to this show and you will come away with your faith in mankind restored. This is one of the nicest bunch of people that I had ever had the pleasure of meeting. A young man there expressed an interest in buying a model so I let him run my engine to let him get a taste of it. I believe in sharing my hobby, especially when it comes to the younger generation. That is the only way that this hobby is going to survive.
Due to other plans I could only show my engine on Sunday, but next year I hope to be there at least two days. My wife said that the La Porte show was the nicest show that she had ever attended. It is easy to see why my wife liked the show because it had several different size steam trains running all day, the sawmill was busy, and the Browning crane was moving logs. I saw all of this from where I was attending my engine. I regret not having been able to see more of their show and not having written down some of their names. I hope to see the big one hundred and forty Avery running next year.
We left Danville at 5:30 that morning and got home at 11:45 that night which made for a very long day, but it was worthwhile.
The final show in my part of the country which I attended was the Boonville, Indiana show during the second weekend of October. I had written to my friend Billy Byrd and told him that I was bringing my engine and I hoped that he would bring his. This show is a favorite because of the cool, clear, sunny weather. There are always a large number of engines in action at this show with most of them being Keck Gonnerman. This year there was Kitten, Heilman, and Frick engines represented in addition to about a dozen Kecks. The engines are kept busy with the sawmill, threshing machines, Baker fans, and large ice cream machine. Someone had a Townsend tractor that looked like it was brand new. There were several nice tractor and gas engine exhibits. I recommend this show to anyone interested in steam or gas in Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois areas. This show has a strong community backing which is reflected by the large number of quality exhibits and the large crowds that are in attendance.
Billy, Dad and I mostly paraded our engines and visited with the other exhibitors and spectators. This was a great show to close out the year.
I enjoy going to different shows, and participating makes them even more enjoyable. By having a model I am able to participate in shows that are not in my area, which is hard to do if you own a large engine. I feel that this year I had more fun with my model than I ever had with a large steam engine. I was able to make several good friends and promote our hobby. Tom, Lois, and Aaron Terning made this all possible by building a quality engine at an affordable price. I can only wonder what people will do when there is no one building engines anymore. There were several people who have told me that they have built engines better than mine, but these same people do not advertise their services in Iron Men Album or Engineers and Engines. Most of these same people failed to bring their models to the shows. If a person is too lazy to load an engine I wonder how lazy they were when they were building their engine?
I have heard a few people state that they have a full size engine which has a boiler 'better than when it was new.' My question is who did they have build their new boiler? They look at me strange and usually reply that it is the original boiler. This does not make good common sense. Water on steel after several years does not improve a boiler's condition by my way of thinking. Someday 1 would like to buy a full size engine with a bad boiler and have an ASME stamped boiler built. That way I know what I have when asked about the condition of my boiler.
I would like to get a list of the names and addresses of everyone who owns an Illinois steam engine. At the Boonville, Missouri show I had the pleasure of running a twenty horsepower Illinois engine several years ago. I am particularly interested in the whereabouts of a twenty-five horsepower Illinois engine that was pictured in Engineers and Engines about twenty years ago. At the time the picture was taken, the engine was in Newkirk, Oklahoma. Additionally, I would like to know who owns the one-half scale C Aultman under-mount built by the former Nate Lang of Charleston, Illinois. I welcome any correspondence.
Next year I hope to attend more shows throughout the Midwest and I hope to see some of you there.