One collector's pursuit of an old steam engine
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.
A few evenings before Christmas 1991, my wife and I were there at his place for a visit and to exchange Christmas presents. Russ and I were sitting at the kitchen table sipping coffee and out of the blue he said, "You always wanted that Advance-Rumely and tonight I'm selling it to you!"
I almost fell off the chair! After a few questions and a little thought I became the owner of the engine. On the way home my wife says to me, "You are not buying another engine." My answer' was, "I already have." Yes! I'm a proud owner of 15314. Now you may ask, why? My father owned one just like it, purchased in 1924, and I ran that engine when I was 14 years old a whole threshing run. Two brothers and I were in World War II and Dad let them cut it to make bullets. And that's another memory story about running the engine when a 14 year old is doing a man's job.
When this article is published in Iron-Men Album I will be down visiting the Millers.