| November/December 1974

  • Purdie's Steam Engine
    Purdie's Steam Engine. Courtesy of C. E. Purdie
    C. E. Purdie
  • Dimensioned drawing
    Dimensioned drawing of the tank. Courtesy of C. E. Purdie
    C. E. Purdie

  • Purdie's Steam Engine
  • Dimensioned drawing

Box 278, Faribault, Minnesota 55021

Case 50 HP, serial number 33,181, arrived in November, just as I was about to migrate South with the birds for the winter. Among the bystanders watching the unloading was Smokey Cross, an engineer for Land O Lakes Creamery. Much to my joy, I soon learned that I had some one in Faribault with whom to share my love for steam. Steam is like sex: you don't enjoy it unless you have some one to share it with.

Smokey had just completed a tiny scale model of a Case steam engine, and brought it over to show me. It was a neat job and was even decorated with tiny silver emblems. He looked longingly at the Case we unloaded and had it not been for the fact that it weighed nine tons, I am sure he would have spirited it away in the darkness of the night.

Smokey and I looked over the engine thoroughly. An ugly tank had been installed on the front of the engine, just ahead of the smoke stack. The previous owner chose not to tackle the job of repairing the original factory tank which leaked badly. We agreed the nose tank should be removed and some means sought to repair or replace the original tank. Coal bunkers were in excellent shape. Frontal tanks are fine on the Minneapolis engine, but on the Case it looked like a misplaced Adam's apple.

While in Arizona I received a letter from Smokey which contained two significant items. First, he had just received his Class 1A steam engineer's license. Secondly, he had a suggestion about repairing the water tank on the Case. 'I propose taking a torch and cut out a panel on the back of the original tank, make another 'T' shaped tank, slide it into the old tank, and re-weld the plate back on. Could I have your permission to do this?' Says I, 'Go ahead'.

On returning to Faribault, my first item of business was to look at the Case and was disappointed as there was no visible sign that the job was done. But Smokey assured me that a new tank had been installed inside the old one, complete with baffles. Smokey was no slouch with a welding torch and he had replaced the panel, re-welded it, smoothed it over and painted it in such a manner that it is difficult to find a scar even though you know it is there. For all practical purposes and appearances, these contractor's bunkers are as good as new.


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