Acquiring an Advance-Rumely Steam Engine

One collector's pursuit of an old steam engine


| May/June 2000


I was visited last fall by Kenneth Miller and his wife Mary. Kenneth is a grandson of Kos Busbey and Buck is an uncle.

These are the words of Kenneth: "It was indeed a pleasure to find the engine again in the good hands of Mr. H.E. Beckemeyer!"

It was also a pleasure to meet the Millers and have a long visit with them.

I lived at Newton, Illinois, from 1955 to 1961. During this time I was informed that there was an Advance-Rumely steam engine at Hudsonville, Illinois. I made many trips to Hudsonville the five years I lived at Newton, trying to purchase the engine, but to no avail. I moved to Tolono, Illinois, in 1961. I got to know Russ Helms and we became very good friends. He owned a 16 HP Reeves steamer.

About 1979 he said to me, "Do you know where I can buy a big engine like an Advance-Rumely?" I thought for a minute and said, "Would you drive 100 miles or so to check out an engine I tried to buy in the late 1950s and early '60s?" He said he would, so I drew up a map and the owner's name. He went and found the old owner had passed away; the son sold Russ the engine.

Russ restored the engine with a little of my help and some others. It was shown at many shows around this area. I never ever had a thought in my mind that he would ever part with that engine.