Acquiring an Advance-Rumely Steam Engine

One collector's pursuit of an old steam engine


| May/June 2000



Advance-Rumely

Advance-Rumely steam engine serial number 15314, purchased new in 1924 by Kos Busbey, Wheeler, Illinois. The picture was taken about 1939. The man on the engine is Clarence 'Buck' Busbey, who owned the engine along with his father Kos Busbey. The engine was sold shortly after the picture was taken around 1940 for $300.00. 

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.