A Little Steam Left

Scale model 1915 J.I. Case steam traction engine and separator

| May/June 1969

  • J. I. Case separator model
    Jalmer Vane with his J. I. Case separator model he built.
    Courtesy Jalmer Vane
  • J. I. Case Steam Traction Engine
    The J.I. Case steam traction engine built by Jalmer Vane, Dawson, Minn.
    Courtesy Jalmer Vane

  • J. I. Case separator model
  • J. I. Case Steam Traction Engine

After operating a large steam threshing machine for thirty-two years, which includes ten years as State Boiler Inspector for the State of Minnesota and twenty-five years as a building contractor, I retired at the age of seventy-two. As I had a little steam left in my blood, I decided to build a miniature 1/6 scale model of a J.I. Case 28” x 46” 1915 threshing machine. I spent ten months building the separator. I thought by building the separator first it would give me the necessary experience before starting on the steam engine.

The separator is complete with self-feeder, 12-bar cylinder, with teeth, concaves, beater, straw racks, fan, sieves, Dakota style weigher, swinging stacker and return elevator. All the pulleys were made out of cast aluminum and finished on the lathe, also the two crankshafts for the feeder and separator.

After I completed the separator, I started to build a miniature model of a 1915 J.I. Case steam traction engine. I spent two and a half years to build it. It took a lot of patience — which is a necessity. Since these pictures were taken, I have built a canopy top on the engine.

The specifications are: boiler barrel 50-1/4”, oversize diameter seamless 13/64”, length 16”, length of smoke box 4”, 22 copper fire tubes 1/2” oversize diameter 16” long, three through stays 5/16” diameter, 24”-long fire box 4-3/4” wide, 5-3/4” width of engine including drivers 17”. Length of engine including coal bunkers and water tank: 41”; height of engine top of governor: 22”; height of traction wheels: 12”; width: 3”; front wheels height: 8”; and width 2”. There are the same number of spokes and lugs as in a large engine. The stay bolts in the fire-box are 5/16” diameter, 1” on centers threaded and caulked. All seams in the boiler are riveted and welded. The welding was done by a certified welder. Safety valve set at 125 lbs. hydrostatic test 188 lbs. Also, have a hand pump that is on the same line as the double acting geared pump that feeds the water into the boiler and it is used as an auxiliary in case there is trouble with the double acting pump. The boiler is inspected every year by the State Boiler Inspector.

The engine is equipped with governor, Woolf valve reversing gear, friction clutch and gear mechanical lubricator, displacement lubricator, throttle, differential gear, steam gauge, safety valve, cylinder, 1-5/8” by 1-3/4” bore and stroke, and feed water heater, which heats the water from the exhaust steam from the engine. The engine is suspended on springs from the rear axle bearings, same as the large engine. It has coal bunkers and water tank, two countershaft pinions 1” diameter, 18 teeth,  two rear wheel gears 3/4” wide, 8” diameter and 108 teeth.

These gears, and also some other gears and chain sprockets for the separator, were made on my 10” tilting arbor bench saw with a device I made on the saw table to cut the teeth. The double acting geared pump and the hand pump that feeds the water into the boiler were made from scraps of brass found in my shop. The bolts and cap screws were made of hexagon steel rods 32 T.P., which makes a very good steam and water joint.

4/28/2009 10:12:27 AM

This is very interesting to me since as a boy on my fathers farm in eastern Montana every year while in High school I piched bundles into a 28 in Case machine my father and uncle owned. This machine was powered by a gas cross motor Case traction engine and to this day I can remember how it barked as the bundles hit the cylinder- Needles to say this was my favorite season of the year. After High school I became a telegrapher on GN railroad and at this time steam engines were still in heavy useage. However in about 8 years they were all gone and so was I. The romance of steam power was what kept my interest. I moved to Seattle and began a career at Boeing Aircraft where I retired after 34 happy years. Regards WARREN SOMMERFELD wardon@cox.net


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