Al Steffeck's Machines


| July/August 1976

  • Russell engine

  • Al Steffeck's Erie
    Al Steffeck's Erie, used long ago for shearing sheep. ''As far as I can figure out,'' he says, ''It was built about 1870 and is thus over 100 years old. I was told the engine was hauled up here in Montana from Salt Lake City, disassembled on wagons pulled
    Al Steffeck
  • Steam Traction Engineer License
    Steam Traction Engineer License - Al Steffeck, whose story appears in this issue, still has his old time Montana traction engineer's license. In 1975, the year ending June 30, Montana had 52 renewals of these licenses, but only seven applicants were teste
    Bill Hartz
  • Russell engine
    Above gives you two snaps of the Russell engine belonging to Al Steffeck and at the bottom is his Buffalo steam roller. [Stemgas Photos]
  • Russell engine


  • Russell engine
  • Al Steffeck's Erie
  • Steam Traction Engineer License
  • Russell engine
  • Russell engine

Al Steffeck, of Helena, Montana, who retired several years ago from his snow plow sales business, has several machines which are stored outside the headquarters of the company, now run by his son, Jim. Our cousin, John Baucus at Wolf Creek, told us about him and we interviewed him one sunny day last summer.

One of the machines is a steam roller, which Steffeck has had for about 30 years. It was once owned by the City of Helena. He traded a new Buffalo for it, then fired it up and ran it. It was bought new in 1912.

Another of his pieces is a Russell, which he found locked up in a barn in Kibby Canyon in 1966. It had never been out of the barn since 1926, and had dust on it about two inches thick. But it had the original paint on it, and had been run only 10 days a year for 16 years, threshing for eight or nine farmers who were neighbors of the owner. 'Then combines came and ruined things,' Steffeck comments.

Steffeck paid about $1,000, which was what the owner wanted for it, and got the whistle, the original instruction book and all the tools. He painted it black and used to run it every summer.



He also owns a Case, 1919 cross engine, with rubber tires. It was used for thrashing. Case took it back on a trade-in, and Steffeck bought it from Case for $50 about 1946.

An Erie, rounding out his collection, has proved a headache. 'I got it for nothing,' he comments, 'and wish I had looked at it better and left it. I had to put in all new flues and still have to paint it. I have more money in it than I'll ever get out.'