An American Treasure

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One-half scale 22 HP Advance Rumely steam engine and 32'' Keck Gonnerman thresher built to exact scale.
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Russell Helm with his half scale Ann Arbor baler.
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Russell in his farm machine shop with the 10.5' long C-3 cargo ship converted into a troop transport ship which he built following WWII.
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One-half scale B-4 Minneapolis Moline corn sheller shelling corn at the Douglas County Historical Festival, Arcola, Illinois.
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Russell Helm of Murdock, Illinois is seen here with family pet Opie, in front of Russell's 22 HP Advancce Rumely.

R.R. 2, Box 1055, Arcola, Illinois 61910

The year was 1943 and the great wages of world war were being
fought in a deadlock battle for supremacy. A young 18 year old son
of a farmer from Murdock, Illinois, answered the call to arms and
exchanged a field straw hat for a navy seaman’s cap and headed
out to sea on the U.S.S. Stanley DD-478, DES destroyer ship.
Patrolling the sea from advanced destroyer repair bases from
Australia to Subic Bay, this young man was a shipmate with
approximately 350 sailors who all knew one another’s job.
Invasions that this young sailor participated in ranged from New
Britain to Okinawa. With the war behind him and a whole future
ahead of him, this war veteran now returned in 1945 to farm with
his father, while remaining in the Naval Reserves until 1969. Also,
after the war, the bonds of marriage between this now young farmer
and Wanda Meyer took place and a fine family consisting of two
daughters and one son followed. Having gained steam experience on
the destroyer and having been raised with farm steam engines, this
now worldly man purchased a U.S. 16 HP Reeves engine in 1951. The
Reeves was exhibited at the Pontiac Thresherman’s Show, the
Pinckneyville show, private demonstrations for neighbors at the
farm site, and the annual Douglas County Historical Festival,
Arcola, Illinois.

Not just satisfied with full size steam engines, interest began
to shift to models. In 1979 a one-half scale, 65 HP Case model
steam engine was purchased from Tom Terning, Valley Center, Kansas.
To go along with the one-half scale Case, a 32 inch, one-half scale
Keck Gonnerman thresher was built for threshing exhibitions. 1979
was a busy year for this enterprising farmer because an original 22
HP Advance Rumely became available for purchase. This engine was
taken completely apart and all machine work performed by this
proven machinist/combination farmer. In 1981, a one-half scale Ann
Arbor baler was built, wood wheels and all, by this man who had
baled many a day with his father, Floyd. In 1984, with the
unselfish assistance of Tom Terning, a one-half scale of the 22 HP
Advance Rumely began to take shape. After several calls to Tom
Terning discussing different aspects of the engine in progress, it
was finally completed and rolled out of the shop, picture perfect
to the last detail. In 1986, a one-half scale B-4 Minneapolis
Moline corn sheller was built to go along with the one-half scale
Advance Rumely engine.

Today, this fellow historian is semi-retired from farming and
works for the Douglas County Sheriff’s office. He is presently
building a one-half scale model sawmill and a radio controlled ship
similar to the 10.5 ft. long C-3 cargo ship converted into a troop
transport ship that he built right after the war.

The man I am writing about fought for our country in WW II,
began preserving history from the war years until now, donated his
spare time to his family and others who needed guidance and
assistance, and today protects the good people of Douglas County
against any encroachment of possible crime or bodily harm. I am
proud to say that I am an acquaintance and friend of this man who
has enriched my life and that of my family. Mr. Russell Helm of
Murdock, Illinois, is truly an ‘American Treasure.’

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment