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P.O. Box 333, Larimore, North Dakota 58251

This story begins not with the intention of a steam traction
engine restoration, but simply with the desire to fulfill a
lifelong dream of owning one. After spending much time visiting
with individuals in person, on the phone, and researching
advertisements in hobby magazines, my son Paul and I found our
choice a 1919 Case steamer, 65 horsepower, serial number 34592.
This engine spent most of its life in northern Iowa before
migrating to North Dakota.

Even though the 65 Case was in very good condition, I knew from
the onset that I would eventually want to replumb it. This first
engine purchase took place on April 29,1993. I spent the first
season running the engine as I bought it, just for the simple
reason of getting acquainted with it.

During the early summer of 1994, I replaced the fusible plug and
completely replumbed the Case with schedule 80 black pipe from the
domb-valve down to the blow-down valve. I also replaced all of the
valves with Nibco brand valves. This I did because the valves that
were on the engine ranged anywhere from original to water valves
used as replacements. The new valves and all of the pipe is stamped
for 300 lbs. steam pressure. I also replaced the oil pump plumbing
with new high pressure copper tubing designed for refrigeration
use. The gauge was recalibrated, and the throttle valve was
rebuilt. Needless to say, none of these materials were purchased
from a hardware store, but from a qualified, licensed plumber in
order to stay consistent with state boiler codes. At this point, I
was satisfied with my project, and I had no further intention of
any further engine modifications.

By the beginning of 1995, I began considering more engine
projects. This came in part from pictures and stories about other
restorations, from seeing the finished work of some knowledgeable
hobbyists, and also the desire to personally own a perfectly
completed project. As the first couple of months in 1995 passed, I
made three major restoration decisions. First, I elected to have a
complete new set of contractors bunkers made by Mark Pederson of
Luverne, North Dakota, rather than replace the bottom of the old
set, which is very common to do by those experiencing pinhole leaks
in original tanks. Second, I had the eccentric hub rebuilt with new
brass, and a new wood slide block, completed at Larson Welding
Company in Fargo, North Dakota. It seems that engines using the
Wolf reverse valve have a tendency towards eventual wear, requiring
the eccentric hub to be built up. As long as the crankshaft was
removed for this purpose, it was an ideal time to have a qualified
machinist inspect the shaft, bearings, brasses, pins, gears and
clutch assembly. I was given a point of confidence when told the
engine had apparently seen little work considering everything
mechanical was in a new-like condition. The good condition of the
wheel grouters would indicate that the engine had seen little
travel. I feel fortunate that the boiler required no repairs. I
might add that the former owner had installed a new set of piston
rings. Third, I had the engine professionally painted at Lynn Baier
Body Shop, Fordville, North Dakota.

How to have the Case repainted was no small decision. I
considered doing it myself, hiring others to help me on a part-time
basis, or having it done by a professional. Considering I
didn’t have the proper equipment or location to take on this
major job, I hired a truck/auto body shop owner to do this for me.
It, of course, was the most expensive, but once I saw the painter
start to dismantle the engine, go through the cleaning, the
priming, and finally the painting, I had no doubt I made the right
decision. This paint job will last a lifetime by virtue of the use
of high temperature primer, and that the entire engine was painted
with polyurethane Imron paint. The proper shades of original Case
colors came from information obtained from Richard Rorvig of
Rothsay, Minnesota.

All the wood was replaced with new maple wood plank boards. For
the appearance of continuity, I replaced all of the valve handles
with ones that were more original looking and of the same pattern.
New castings included two new oil reservoirs with covers for the
new bunkers, and a third step with risers for the left engine side
made by Clyde Hall of Fillmore, Saskatchewan. I also purchased a
new set of rocking grates.

The water pre heater was retubed by Mark Knox of Fisher,
Minnesota, and an authentic reproduction of a riveted, crown top
spark arrestor was made for the smoke stack, also by Clyde Hall. By
the spring of 1995, I had made some lucky contacts to locate the
other appurtenances needed to give the engine that Case
advertisement look. I was fortunate to acquire a geared pump with
the complete assembly, a canopy with the dome and rear canopy
brackets, and a headlight. After the painting was completed and the
engine was reassembled, a sign painter, Todd Drussell of Hawley,
Minnesota, who has had experience pinstriping antique engines, put
the finishing detail appearance to the steam engine.

The valve-gear was reset to prepare the engine for its first
steam-up in the spring of 1996. In order to complete this major
project, I took the engine out of service for the entire 1995
season. I felt that I wanted the project completed all at one time
rather than to spread the job out over a longer period of time. I
decided to tackle this restoration all at once instead of in

As I mentioned in the beginning of my article, I didn’t plan
such a major restoration other than the re-plumbing when I
purchased the engine because I didn’t think the engine needed
anything else. But I found that as one becomes more involved in
such a hobby, a person has the desire to have a ‘picture
perfect’ steam engine, partly for personal satisfaction, and
partly due to the witness of the images of restored engines owned
by other hobbyists. My affection for steam began as a young boy
growing up next to the Great Northern mainline, although it took
many years before I had the opportunity to get personally

In order to make up for the steam-up time lost during 1995, I
plan to take the 65 Case to extra shows during the 1996 season. I
want to extend with appreciation, all of the help, counsel, spent
time with me, that I’ll forego mentioning all names for fear of
omitting one. My respect and affection for all of you will always
be remembered.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment