Discovered! The Joyland 65

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Chady Atteberry (left) and Jeff Detwiler with the Joyland 65, the find of a lifetime.
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Left and above left: The Case 65 as found, buried among amusement park memorabilia. The steam relic sat for 43 years in this position.
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Below and right: The Joyland 65 awaiting her departure to Oklahoma City.
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Below left: Chady and Jeff behind the Joyland 65. Notice the custom fenders and tool boxes built by Kenny Reynolds in the early 1950s.
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Below right: The famous logo that brought her the namesake “Joyland 65.”
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Chady firing the engine for his first time since 1953.
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Far left: The joyland 65’s first fire in 45 years. Note the original Joyland Park logo on the bunkers.
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Above left: Jeff in the firebox after beading flues, a little bit rattled.
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Left: Jeff’s dad, Paul, and Mike Waggoner threading pipe for the plumbing reinstallation.
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The Joyland 65 Case pulling a skier at a rainy and soaked Pawnee show in 2006, a first for any steam traction engine! (Photo courtesy Mark Corson.)
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Before telling you the story of a lifetime, I
feel the most important thing I can do is pay tribute to the
gentlemen who have provided the lifeblood of our great hobby over
the last 65-plus years, since the early days of such greats as
Blaker, Monk, Cook, Abel, Woodmansee, McMillan and Rynda.

One such man is the legendary W.C. “Chady” Atteberry, who for
almost 77 years has had steam cylinder oil in his blood and a hot
coal fire in his eyes. It is solely because of him that this story
is made possible. Without his watchful eye and keen, watchdog sense
of hearing, the engine of many men’s dreams would probably still be
in mothballs, waiting patiently for her resurrection. I want to
dedicate this story as a living memorial to a man who continues
today to keep the passion of the great history of steam in our
country alive and well.

First Sightings

If you’ve ever known what it feels like to discover something
you knew for sure few, if any, people on the planet knew about, you
can begin to understand what it was like back in 2003 when I
received a phone call from my good friend and steam mentor, Chady
Atteberry.

Backing up a bit further, when I purchased my first steam engine
in 1999, a 19 HP Keck-Gonnerman sidemounted single, I had many
discussions with Chady about my desire to someday have a good
plowing engine, as I had spent many an afternoon at the Pawnee show
riding the 8-bottom plow that his 65 Case no. 32724 pulled like a
hot knife through butter. I was always amazed at how Chady had kept
his engine in top notch condition for all of the 55-plus years he
had owned it. I thought it would be great to own an engine like
his, and told him just that.

Though my first love was the little Keck-Gonnerman that could
saw huge logs all day long and never get tired, I knew that she
would never be a plowing engine, and the Winnipeg prize-winning
engines that the J.I. Case Threshing Machine Co. built were no
doubt some of the best pulling engines ever manufactured. So I
secretly set my sights on adding a Case engine to my collection,
not to betray my allegiance to all of the Keck-Gonnerman
aficionados I had befriended since that cool fall day at Ivan
Burns’ estate sale when the Keck came home to Pawnee.

Back to Chady’s phone call. In the fall of 2003 the steam hobby
lost a great historian and collector in the late Harold Ottaway of
Wichita, Kan. While at his funeral, Chady happened to recognize a
man by the name of Stan Nelson, whom he had remembered seeing with
Harold years ago at Joyland Park. The two men struck up a
conversation that left them at the cemetery for two hours after the
graveside service. Chady just off-hand inquired if Stan happened to
know anything about an old 65 that had been a main attraction at
the legendary Antique Engine and Threshing shows at Joyland Park in
the 1950s. Chady had heard that the engine had been sold with the
park, and in fact it had, and Stan was the owner of the park! Stan
told Chady the engine was still parked in the round-top barn,
sitting quietly amongst years of accumulation of retired amusement
park rides. Chady told me that night he had found an engine very
few living people knew about, and it just might be available.

You can imagine my growing excitement as Chady unfolded the
story of the most famous engine of Joyland Amusement Park history.
What brought the story to a full head of steam for me was when
Chady told me where the engine had been originally delivered back
in 1920: a little town called Kildare, Okla. What was being crafted
before my eyes was a story that had its roots in my very own state.
What steam engine purist could ask for more?

A Remarkable History

Over the course of the next few weeks, I began to learn that
this particular Case engine wasn’t your typical traction engine of
the period. This engine had been purchased by the Buesing
(pronounced bee-zing) brothers of Blackwell, Okla., in the spring
of 1920. The Buesing brothers operated a threshing ring around
Blackwell and this engine, 65 HP Case no. 34844, was to be their
newest addition, and came delivered on the same flatcar as a 36-58
Case steel separator to the mainline Santa Fe railway station in
Kildare. Chady knew the gentleman who drove the engine and
separator off the flatcar, a man by the name of Harv Guston, of
Kildare.

For the next few years, the Buesings used the 65 in their
threshing runs around the county, but the days of steam on the
countryside were quickly becoming numbered, and as we all sadly
know, the gas tractor became the power source for most threshing in
many parts of the country by the middle Twenties.

As could be expected of most retired iron on the farm, you would
have thought this particular steam engine would have been relegated
to fence row duty, keeping watch over the countless implements and
machines that found themselves outdated, obsolete and unwanted.
Much to Chady’s and my amazement, this was not to be the fate of
the hard working 65.

Chady remembers with vivid clarity the first time he laid eyes
on what was to become the Joyland 65. It was on a journey with his
father, A.E. Atteberry, to the Buesing farm northeast of Blackwell
in 1938. What they found was a pristine and little-used 65 Case and
36-58 Case separator, sitting under shed! For all of its 13 or so
years of retirement, the engine had been stored under shed,
protected from the elements that condemned many a traction engine
to a slow, agonizing death.

From this point, the Joyland 65 ended up as a tradein for a new
Allis-Chalmers tractor from the Weber Implement Co. in Newkirk,
Okla., just after World War II. A gentleman by the name of Kenny
Reynolds purchased the engine and moved it to his machine shop in
Wichita, Kan., in 1945. Chady again had a chance encounter with the
Joyland 65 when he paid a visit to Kenny in 1947 to view his
collection of steam engines. He immediately recognized the engine
as the Buesing 65 from Blackwell: The engine was still in pristine
condition, and not for sale – much to Chady’s disappointment. Chady
did, however, purchase another fine 65 Case in 1947, engine no.
32724, for the grand sum of $250.

A New Home

In 1950, the Joyland 65 came to the place it would call home for
the next 55 years. Harold and Herb Ottaway, owners of Joyland
Amusement Park in Wichita, Kan., purchased the engine with an idea
to create an antique engine association, and they did just that. In
1951, the Antique Engine and Thresher Assn. was formed, with Kenny
Reynolds, Lyman Knapp, Chady Atteberry, E.C. “Big Mac” McMillan,
R.G. Langenwalter and the Ottaway brothers as its founding
members.

As many of you may remember from Chady’s story in the
January/February 2004 issue of Steam Traction about
Joyland Park, the shows were a huge success, with Big Mac
resurrecting the Case Incline demonstration, as well as having many
of the early steam legends in attendance. It was at the 1953 show
that the Joyland 65 made its indelible mark on the landscape of
steam traction engines.

To hear Chady tell the story of that fateful year is to hear of
a great rivalry between gentlemen who had blood in their eyes and
and a steam throttle in their hand. A prony brake was built in time
for the show, and such steam greats as Justin Hingten, Louis David
and Uncle Jake Yoder made pulls on their engines that would make
even the oldest threshermen green. It was here that Chady’s able
hand at firing and preparing an engine for a big pull was made
obvious to all. In one afternoon, with the steam world watching,
Chady fired the Joyland 65 to a record-setting pull of 112 HP on
150 pounds of steam at 250 RPM. Now you may be saying that this is
simply impossible, but with a factory Baker valve and a roaring
inferno in the firebox, I would imagine anything was possible back
then. Chady still gets a glimmer in his eye when he tells the
story.

To grow the legend of the Joyland 65 even more, and to provide
an attraction for the masses, an exhibition of Steam versus Diesel
was created by the Ottaways – a great tug of war, to be held
between the Joyland 65 and an IHC TD-14 crawler tractor. Thousands
gathered to see this feat take place, and the two machines put on
an incredible show.

Year after year until 1960, the Joyland 65 and the rest of
Harold’s collection of nine Case engines put on memorable shows.
But just as fast as the show had grown, so too did the show fade
into memory and legend after the Ottaways sold the park to Stan in
1961.

Since the Joyland 65 was such a staple of the Joyland Park
experience, Harold sold the engine with the park. From 1961 until a
cool fall day in 2003, the engine sat. For 42 years, she lay
sleeping, in and amongst 50 years of retired and obsolete amusement
park rides, keeping watch over a graveyard of sorts inside the old
roundtop barn. Year by year, the Joyland 65 faded further into
mystery, and as time takes us all closer to the great reunion in
the sky, many of the men who had known and witnessed this engine in
its heyday were slowly passing on. But Chady Atteberry remembered.
And when the time came he asked the right question of the right
man, and we were granted a chance to view the engine, up close and
personal.

The death of one steam legend had led to the resurrection of
another. The date: Oct. 26, 2003.

Meeting An Old Friend

If you could have seen the look in Chady’s eyes as we opened the
barn doors and slowly crawled over piles of amusement park rides to
reach a dark and dusty old hulk of a machine, you would have known
that this was a man who truly loved his steam engines, and for him
it was like meeting a long lost friend. All we could do was stand
there in amazement in the presence of an engine that hadn’t seen
the light of day for more than 40 years. If only the old engine
could have talked. What dark and dreary days spent in isolation,
now to be poked and prodded and examined with a microscope and
ultrasonic tester.

What we found was more than we could have ever imagined – a near
perfect engine with a near perfect boiler. I could hardly contain
my excitement, as I knew this was the engine I had waited
years to find. This was the engine I would set my sights on owning.
No river to wide, no mountain to steep. I would find a way to have
this dream engine. Chady and I left Joyland Park that day like
school kids who had just been let out for summer.

We inquired of Stan about whether he might be willing to sell
the engine. He wasn’t ready at the time, so we pulled our hats down
over our ears and settled in for a long winter of waiting. And more
waiting. I wrote several letters to Stan over the next months
seeking to make him aware of just how important this engine was to
the steam community, and how I would be honored to be the one to
bring the Joyland 65 back to life and bring her home to Oklahoma,
where she would be well cared for over the next 100 years of her
life. Several times I phoned Stan to check in on the old girl, and
asked sincerely that I might have the first crack at her when and
if the time finally came for him to let her go.

To Patient Men Comes Virtue

The winter of 2003 passed. Then the spring of 2004. Then the
summer and fall. No news out of Wichita on the fate of the Joyland
65. Trying to read Stan was like trying to read Latin. I had all
but buried the dream of owning this little piece of history. After
months of keeping the secret between Chady and myself, we were, to
put it mildly, in the dumps about the engine. Then the fateful call
came.

It was Nov. 14, 2004, and I recognized a number ringing in with
a Kansas area code. Stan’s voice was on the other end of the line:
“Jeff, we’ve decided to sell the steam tractor. However, there has
been another offer made …”

My heart sank, as I thought for sure the engine of my dreams was
going to go somewhere to somebody with deeper pockets and nowhere
near the appreciation for the engine that Chady and I had. All the
hopes and dreams for the engine Chady and I had talked about almost
weekly over the preceding 12 months were quickly fading to black.
Then came the words I will never forget: “We’ve also decided to let
you match the offer.”

Instantly my heart was wrenched from the trenches and hope was
rekindled. I was going to own the Joyland 65! Mortgage the house,
rent out the kids, sell all the mules, peddle vacuum cleaners,
whatever it took, I was prepared to make the sacrifice that only we
passionate steam men are willing to make to own a piece of history.
The icing on the cake was that it was my birthday. Not a bad
present for 37 years on this planet.

Coming Home

Nov. 18, 2004, the Joyland 65 saw the sun for the first time in
43 years. The drive to Wichita was wet and rainy, but as the
minutes drew nearer to the moment she would roll out of her hiding
place and into the world, the sky seemed to realize that one of its
children was about to make its way back into reality, and
graciously offered up a ray of sunlight as she came out of the
round-top barn and shook off a half century of dust as she was
guided up onto the deck of the lowboy.

There she sat, with the faded memories of Joyland Park fresh on
her mind, and the towering silhouette of the famous Joyland wooden
roller coaster as her backdrop. It was indeed a mountain top
moment, to stand there and witness what no man had seen for almost
50 years. I can only compare it to finding a long lost love, or
maybe the thrill of finding a 1957 Corvette that had sat in
grandma’s barn for 40 years.

A day later, the Joyland 65 was sitting in the shop of my good
friend Shane Fry of Newalla, Okla., and thus began the long arduous
task of bringing her back to life.

Like Moths to a Flame

As many of you know, word travels fast and far in the steam
community, and soon we were getting calls from all over the United
States: “Does the Joyland 65 really exist?” “Do you really own the
Joyland 65?” We got calls from Michigan to Florida, Pennsylvania to
Georgia. We were proud to be bringing this legend back from the
shrouds of mystery. Locals came to see the old girl, some who, like
Chady, had seen this engine in full steam back in the 1950s.

Patiently, a team of gents consisting of myself, my dad Paul,
Chady, Shane Fry, Dale Wolff, Steve Dunn and Mike Waggoner spent
the next several months in the overhaul mode, first pulling the old
jacket off the engine and removing all the piping. The pre-heater
was chock full of dried mud, we pulled the cylinder head and piston
and sent it out to have the rod chromed, and we ordered all new
brass valves and fittings were from Powell Valves. The injector was
sent off to be gone through by the able and spunky Harold Stark of
Indianapolis.

The gearing on all the drives was next to new, and very little
wear was noticeable anywhere on the engine. It was as though the
engine had been rolled off the flatcar in 1920 and into a barn, to
be born again 84 years later.

I spent the better part of a full day in the firebox with a cup
brush and angle grinder, and when I was done you could’ve eaten
your dinner off the firebox sheets. I’ve never in my life been as
filthy as I was that day. It was worth the filth though to be able
to ultrasound around every single staybolt in the firebox. We
recorded over a thousand thickness readings in the firebox, and we
were amazed at just how little deterioration had occurred over the
years.

We knew we would need all the ammunition we could gather when
the time came to present the engine to the Oklahoma boiler
inspectors for their evaluation. Bringing an engine out of
mothballs and getting it inspected in Oklahoma is one thing when
the engine resides in Oklahoma and has been previously inspected at
some point in its life. It’s another thing when the engine comes
from another state and has never been inspected. There was
certainly some risk in bringing the old girl back to life. We had
faith however that this engine was good enough to pass muster. So
on we pressed.

I made contact with Dean Jagger, chief boiler inspector in Ohio,
to inquire if there were still Ohio Standard records available for
this boiler, as it was code stamped with a National Board number
and an Ohio Standard number. I guess I had somehow been living
right, because Dean put me in touch with a very gracious gentlemen
named J.D. Miller of Baltic, Ohio, who just so happened to rescue
hundreds and hundreds of original boiler build sheets from the
incinerators of the Ohio Department of Commerce, and he just so
happened to have a boiler build order on a certain 65 HP Case
engine.

What I received in the mail from him exceeded my wildest
expectations. In one piece of paper, we had the original build
specifications for every piece of steel plate used in the boiler,
its thickness and tensile strength, staybolt data and rivet info,
and best of all, the original calculation for the maximum working
pressure assigned: 175 pounds at a safety factor of 5.5. All signed
and sealed by a Hartford steam boiler inspector. Our ammunition
cache was growing by the minute.

Time, Precious Time

We were working on a deadline to be ready for the annual
Oklahoma Steam Threshing & Gas Engine Show in Pawnee, Okla.,
the first weekend of May 2005. We had started this expedition in
December of 2004. While it seemed like we had forever to get the
job done, the pace turned somewhat feverish around April 1. Dad and
I spent many 14-hour days cleaning, fitting, piping, assembling,
dismantling and assembling again.

Around April 15, it started to look like we would never be ready
for the show, much less the eyes of the Oklahoma Boiler Inspectors.
We hadn’t even lit a fire yet. Many a heartfelt discussion was held
with my dad on the road trip back and forth from Oklahoma City to
Shane’s shop, discussing the possibilities of “what if ” we
couldn’t be ready. What then? Dozens of folks knew of our plan to
be ready for Pawnee, yet in the back of my head I realized it would
take a monumental effort to be finished. Dad and I didn’t want to
do things just half way, so we decided that if we didn’t have the
engine ready three days before the show, we would postpone her
coming out party.

Fate and Tragedy

As fate and stubbornness would have it, Dad and I found
ourselves still working on the engine the day before the show, with
the intentions of hauling her up there on the Friday of the show
for an inspection and first fire. We were both pretty delirious by
then and our decision making skills were obviously impaired by our
blood-in-the-eye desire to have the engine at Pawnee.

It was then that the Good Lord stepped in and got my attention.
It was Thursday afternoon, the day before the show. I got a call
from good friend Dale Wolff, who told me that Kenneth Kelly, long
time and 86-year-old Oklahoma Steam Thresher, had passed away that
very morning. I told him that simply couldn’t be possible. Just
four days before, I had had a two-hour bull session with Kenneth
until after midnight at his ranch in Pawnee, on my way back from
retrieving a re-certified pop valve for the 65 from a shop in
Tulsa. How could I have known that Sunday night would be my last to
speak with another steam legend? I will never forget our spirited
and humorous discussion.

As I hung up the phone with Dale, I had to sit down, as I was
simply in stunned disbelief. Then it came over me in a wave of
grief. I told my dad and we both sat down together, and I had a
good cry. Suddenly the steam world had changed. Suddenly the wind
had just left the sails of our project, and all the mayhem and
madness to finish the engine made me realize that we had lost
something else very critical to any project of this magnitude: It
had lost its fun.

It called for a re-thinking of what was truly important about
pursuing these old steam relics. It had to be fun or it just wasn’t
worth doing. I also realized that no one was going to shoot us if
we didn’t have the engine at Pawnee. We gathered up our tools and
headed for Pawnee, sans one Joyland 65.

Thank goodness for the little Keck-Gonnerman that was waiting in
the barn to restore my faith in all things steam. We buried Kenneth
in a full thresherman’s ceremony, with his 65 Case pulling his
casket on a hay wagon to the pavilion at the center of the Pawnee
show grounds for the funeral. We fed hundreds, and paid tribute to
a man who had changed the face of the Pawnee show for over four
decades. A final whistle was blown atop the stack of the old
Kewanee boiler at the Corliss building and, just as Kenneth would
have wanted it, the show went on.

Patience Rewarded, Once Again

I couldn’t even visit the Joyland 65 after the show. It was just
too much to deal with. I didn’t know if I was burned out, or still
grieving over Kenneth’s passing and the timing of it all. It was
almost six months before Dad and I struck up a conversation about
the 65, and over the course of a burger and fries we decided that
it was time to finish the project, that it would be perfect if we
could have a little fall steam up on the day after Thanksgiving,
and it would indeed be fitting to be giving our thanks for a
successful project completion.

We figured we had about two and a half days of work left before
we could build a fire, and sure enough, the day before Thanksgiving
we lit the first match in the old girl since 1960. On Friday, Nov.
26, 2005, we gathered with about a dozen of our steam friends, all
of whom had followed the Joyland 65’s progress. Of course Chady had
the honorary chief engineer’s hat, and he was the first to pull the
throttle, something he hadn’t done on that engine in over 50 years.
You didn’t have to ask him how he felt about running the engine
that he had made famous in 1953, you could see it in his eyes. His
“crackerjack” engine of Joyland Park fame was running like a
well-oiled sewing machine once again. We enjoyed a great meal
courtesy of the Fry’s, and spent the afternoon running the engine
and listening to the mellow sounds of a “new” 5-inch Crosby whistle
that would make even legendary Case man Tommy Lee jealous.

Finally to Pawnee

In December the Joyland 65 made the trip to Pawnee and took up
her new residence in the engine shed with 12 of her brothers and
sisters. After much input from steam friends and Joyland Park fans,
it was decided to leave the engine in its work clothes, with the
faded graphics from the amusement park to be left on her bunkers as
a tribute to a place where steam was definitely king, and as Chady
so aptly puts it, Case was too.

As luck would have it, and again another lesson in patience, it
rained for most of the Pawnee show this year, and the big plans to
plow with Chady’s 65, Carl Tuttle’s 110 and the Joyland 65 had to
be put on hold for another year. The Joyland 65 did, however, power
the sawmill for most of Saturday afternoon, and became the first
steam traction engine in history to pull a skier in the soaking
rains that invaded the show grounds. It was at best a sloppy ski
ride, but the watchful shutter of Mark Corson captured the moment
on film, and another accolade was placed on the shelf of the
Joyland 65. We had also passed a rigorous Oklahoma boiler
inspection team that spent two days going over every aspect of the
engine. When it was all said and done, we had a certificate for 150
pounds, exactly what we had hoped for.

There is more to the story of the Joyland 65 since Pawnee 2006,
but I think that will have the makings of another tale to be told
somewhere down the road. It is indeed amazing how a steam engine
can teach us so much about life, history, patience and
perserverance through tragedy. I would have never believed that one
engine could have such an impact on so many peoples lives,
especially my own. It brought a father and son closer together, it
rekindled a passion in a legendary steam man’s heart, and it turned
the steam community on its ear, to know there really are still some
hidden jewels out there, if only you keep your ears open and your
heart in the right place. My sincerest thanks go out to all who
played a part, either big or small, in the resurrection of this
fine example of Case workmanship, the Joyland 65.

Contact Jeff Detwiler at: 5900 Harvard Dr., Oklahoma
City, OK 73122; e-mail:
jdetwiler@detwilerandassociates.com

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