Since 1963, Warren Bellinger's family has charished their Advance Rumely Steam Engine No. 15046.
1515 Long fellow Waterloo, Iowa 50703
Advance Rumely #15046 on this issue's cover is the subject of a story. The engine is owned by the Bellinger family of Waterloo, Iowa. They have just completed a total cosmetic restoration.
In the mid 1950s my grandpa, Shelby Bellinger, and my dad, Dean Bellinger, began to travel to the early steam shows. They had a lot of fun together meeting new friends and running engines. But, after a while they wanted more. They decided they must have an engine of their own. So my grandpa bought a 20 horse Minneapolis from Bill Bates of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Because of this engine they met many new friends.
One day, one of these friends, Bill Brandt, told them about an Advance Rumely nearby. It was owned by the Koob family of Jubilee. Soon plans were made to go and visit the engine. Upon arrival they discovered 20 horse Advance Rumely #15046. They met the owner, an elderly man everyone referred to as 'Grandpa Koob.'
Grandpa Koob informed them that he bought this engine several years earlier from Justin Hintgen of LaMotte, Iowa. Justin used this engine in his sawmill. I have been told, by those who supposedly know, that Justin sawed many thousands of board feet with this engine. Justin himself told my dad that he almost upset this engine one night unloading it from a lowboy. Luckily it slid off one side of the trailer and came to rest on its side up against a wood pile. Luckily no serious damage occurred to the engine.
Grandpa Koob also used the engine in his sawmill. He was very fond of the engine he nicknamed 'Ole Smokie'. He also used this engine to shred corn, fill silo, and pull stumps.
After coming around several times, Grandpa Koob found my dad to be a competent engineer and offered him a job firing the engine in the mill on weekends. Dad of course eagerly accepted.
Firing the engine on fresh slabs was not the fun Dad had envisioned and he hated the engine. But, after a while he came around and began to fall in love with the engine. He liked it so much that he told Grandpa Koob he would like to buy the engine from him. Mr. Koob, of course, said he could never part with 'Ole Smokie.'
Well, a couple of years passed, and in August of 1963 Grandpa Koob came to the Black Hawk Steam Engine Show. Dad was busy running Grandpa's Minneapolis when Mr. Koob pulled him off to the side. He said, 'I'm ready to sell Ole Smokie if you are still interested.' Nearly jumping out of his pants, Dad said, 'You bet! How much do you want for it?' Grandpa Koob said $1300 and he would throw in a new set of flues. Well, Dad got Grandpa to lend him the money and he had a steam engine of his own.
In the fall Dad had the engine trucked back to the family farm in LaPorte City. Once home, he ran the engine over every inch of the farm possible. He even talked my great-grandpa into using the engine to fill silo that fall. This was not an easy task, as my great-grandpa had no love for steam. He still farmed some with horses and never got any more modern than a couple of F-20's.
Dad had many good times with the engine and never had any problems, except my great-grandpa wouldn't let him shed the engine. He had to keep it and the Minneapolis out by the grove. They covered the two engines with large canvas tarps and bales of straw in the winter. Soon, this wasn't acceptable to Dad and Grandpa, so in 1967 they decided to take the engines up to Antique Acres in Cedar Falls. There, at least, the engines could be shedded when not in use.
Being born in 1966, I can't ever remember not being around this engine or the show. My dad, my two brothers, and I have had a lot of fun and good memories sawing, threshing, and plowing with the engine. It has always served us well and has done everything needed of it.
But in the past couple of years, we noticed it was in need of a cosmetic restoration. Physically, such as boiler, engine proper, and wheels, it was as good as any. It just needed cleaning, painting, and a new canopy. We decided in the summer of 1990 that this must be done. Our good friend, Randy Schwerin, even volunteered his farm to us.
The Tuesday before Memorial Day I went out and fired up the engine. Dad came out with the truck and trailer and she was loaded up and on her way to Randy's in Sumner.
Memorial Day weekend Dad and I pulled the travel trailer up to Randy's place. We set up camp and went right to work. This was the beginning of the longest and most interesting summer of my life. What we thought was going to be a lot of fun also turned into a lot of work.
First we pulled off the old canopy. Then we removed the wheels for sandblasting. This went real smooth and only took half a day. I figured this was going to be a piece of cake. Then reality set in. We spent every Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the next six weeks scraping and chipping old paint and grease. We also spent many hours on the boiler with a needle gun. We also steam cleaned the engine from top to bottom numerous times. We used Randy's 16-60 Nichols and Shepard to supply the steam.
Randy let us dig a big pit out behind one of the sheds. We lined it with thick plastic. We then filled it with water and Lewis lye. We put the steering chains and differential in to soak. When we pulled them out a couple of weekends later they were clean as could be, free from all the oil and grease.
We then loaded up all four wheels, the three water tanks, steps, and gear shield. We hauled them back to Waterloo to be sandblasted. They were then hauled back up to Randy's. Upon arrival they were all given a quick coat of primer to keep them from rusting.
In the meantime it's getting to be about the first week of August, and the show is the fourth weekend away. So, we decided to start working each night after work, along with weekends.
For the next two weeks I went over to our friend Dick Parker's house. Dick is pretty handy with woodwork and agreed to help me build a new canopy, tool box, and side step. We had some rough cut lumber that we had sawed at the show a couple years earlier. After getting it planed and cut to dimension, we spent several days sanding. After it was assembled and new tin added, it looked real sharp. The tool box, side step, and rafters are made of oak. The two side boards of the canopy are made of locust. It took about eight guys to put the canopy back on.
We also had a new drawbar and coal bunker made, along with re plumbing the engine and adding a Marsh steam pump.
Meanwhile Dad was making sure the engine and all its parts were getting painted. We spent the next week putting wheels, tanks, and coal bunker back on. We were also moving along with more painting.
The following weekend we did some final touchups, and on Saturday we fired the engine up for the first time. This was a great relief, as we were all getting a little burned out from spending all our free time on the engine.
The following day Jim Bagenstos came up and did all the lettering and striping. He did both the engine and the canopy. Jim is a professional sign painter and did a real good job.
Six days before the show it was loaded back up and hauled back to the Antique Acres grounds. There it was received with many favorable comments that helped make it all worth while.
This is very much a family engine. We all have a great deal of pride in it, from my dad down to my son Tyler. We would all like to say thank you to everyone who helped us with the restoration. We would also like to say a special thank you to Randy Schwerin for allowing us to use his farm and many of his tools for this project.
We would like to invite everyone to come and visit us and our engine at the Antique Acres show in Cedar Falls, Iowa.