BACK TO MY BOYHOOD days when I carried a Russell catalog while heading cows to the field and school, I read the pages with intense interest. The 6hp. intrigued me most and I longed for the chance to see one, not ever dreaming I'd be the proud owner of one. My desire for over a half century was realized when John Busch came driving in with the wreckage of a 6hp. steamer on May 16th, 1953. Lee McLain had found it in a junk yard in Harlowtown, Montana. I tried to purchase it through correspondence but could not. I had told Chris Busch, of Colton, Wash., about it and Chris offered to get it for me and haul it here. As soon as the spring rains let up Chris drove to Harlowtown to make arrangements for it.
On arrival there he found it had been already sold to a laundry and since only the boiler was needed, the torch had already been applied and all the small brackets and other parts were already off. It was indeed a sad sight and seemed quite evident the little Russell had made its last round. Our fancy could revert back to its threshing days and later used for a power unit for a sheep shearing plant. Now the faithful servant was going the way of the ruthless torch, the same fate that had claimed many others. Chris made a deal and it was to be exchanged for another unit or boiler of same value. A faint hope of the Russell to still have a chance for resurrection seemed quite evident. Several weeks passed before Chris sent his son John over with a boiler of same make for exchange. The laundry man saw a chance for some easy money and demanded unreasonable amount of difference, not withstanding the understanding of previous date and price. A less amount was finally compromised.
The boiler was good as well as the wheels and gearing and I saw possibilities so I started to work May 18th to bore out studs and cap screws, being about 35 in all, replacing brackets, steering shaft, bracket reach, building new platform, tanks and manufacturing many other parts. After spending 18 days of 8 hours each, Betsy Lee was ready for the cold water test. To my surprise only one cap screw leaked which was soon tightened and the pressure run up to 90 lbs. I could not resist the temptation of firing her up the first. nice day after a long rainy spell. With a little help she turned over & started after being idle for so many years. Some adjustments on valve gave it the good old familiar Russell exhaust, so I drove out the gate and headed for the mountains and started up the steepest of all. Felt sure Betsy Lee would make it on 80 lbs. pressure. Suddenly I noticed the fire poker had fallen and started to wrap around the rear wheels with a portion headed straight between the gears. I stopped in time to save disaster, found a rock with which to block the wheels, removed the danger and tried again. Of course she stopped on center and with some difficulty I soon had her rolling with the sharp exhaust and finally made the grade. A signal of triumph from the Buckeye whistle announced the accomplishment. Returning the 62-year-old Russell home, I painted it and she looks as she did when she left old Manillon.