Emil Wallach's 20 HP Advance-Rumely Universal steam engine

A genuine steam man recalls his engine

| March/April 1982

  • Rumely 20 HP Universal engine
    Emil Wallach (left) stands with his 20 HP Advance-Rumely Universal steam traction engine.

  • Rumely 20 HP Universal engine

I have an Advance-Rumely 20 HP Universal engine, serial #15042 bought new in April 1922. It cost $2,615.00 plus $45.00 freight at that time. I used it to thresh wheat and oats in summer and to saw lumber in winter until 1931. At that time we had a few very unsafe bridges in our area. As I was afraid of breaking through some of these, I traded the engine and my 36 x 60 wooden Rumely Ideal separator for a Rumely model 25 x 40 Oil Pull tractor and Rumely Little Giant 28 x 46 separator.

The dealer sold the engine and separator to a Mr. Bruns of St. Charles, Missouri, who thrashed with it until 1946. As combines took over harvesting, Mr. Bruns sold the engine to his engineer, Mr. Williams of Golden Eagle, Illinois. He used to show at local steam shows until 1967. At that time he agreed to sell it and I bought it from him. It was still in good running order.

Recently I have put new flues in and repainted it the original colors. I have had it in local parades several times.

I own and operate a large farm and we have had several threshing shows at this farm in recent years. We cut some wheat with a binder I have and stage the threshing on a weekend in July. We have the wheat bundles on our 32' long hay wagons and haul these to my Keck Gonner man 32 x 54 steel separator I bought new in 1937. We attract nice crowds and local men volunteers to feed the separator while the crowd enjoys seeing how we used to thresh grain.

I am 86 years old, still active and I can still put my engine under the belt and keep up steam.

I am enclosing a picture taken recently. That's me at left of front wheel.