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From A Missouri Farm To The Blue Ridge Mountains

Author Photo
By Raymond G. Scholl | Sep 1, 1989

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Verden Winship and son Dennis on #15082 in 1953.
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Advance Rumely #15082.
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Illustration taken from the Advance Rumely Catalog.

Rt. 1, Box 459-A Sugar Grove, North Carolina 2867

In 1987 July-August Iron Men Album, I read: ‘For Sale: 18 HP
Advance Rumely #15082, Art Buckwalter Monroe City, Missouri.’
This traction engine was just what I had been wanting to find. I
called Art, and we talked about his engine. It was still operable;
it had no boiler welds; gearing and cleats were excellent; factory
rocker grates and flues were new in the 60’s; the smoke box,
flue sheet and crown sheet were fine; gear guards were in place; it
had a canopy and side tanks; the jacket had been removed. We
discussed a photo, and Art agreed to send one.

I dug out the atlas and figured the mileage from Sugar Grove,
North Carolina to the place the Advance Rumely was located on
brother-in-law Herb Kuntemeyer’s farm. Wow! The distance was
over 750 miles! I was generating funds for the purchase of a
steam-traction engine by selling some gasoline engines, a spark
plug collection, old signs, a soda bottle collection, and other
collectibles that I had been accumulating over the past
twenty-three years. When my ad appeared in the GEM and IMA, several
long-time friends from other states called and wanted to know what
I was on the trail of. I told them that Traction Engine Fever had
bit me big time, and the only cure was to buy one. When steam gets
into a person’s blood, it stays there. I can trace my steam
heritage back nearly two centuries. Scholl ancestors worked on some
of the first steam railroads in America. My Grandpa William Scholl
worked in the oil fields of southern Ohio where wells were drilled
and then pumped with steam engines. Step-great Grandpa Scott Root
of Harlem, Ohio was thresherman-sawmill operator, and, during the
prime of traction engines, he owned two Aultman Taylors, an Avery,
three Bakers, seven Geiser-Peerless, three Huber, and three Russell
steam traction engines. All that remained of these engines while I
was growing up were the memories. Uncle Chris Keeler from Hilliard,
Ohio was a thresherman. He did not own steam, but he did use Huber
equipment. Grandpa Bill Mullins of Sunbury, Ohio, was a licensed
stationary steam engineer, and he had numerous stories to tell:
Grandpa Bill and Great-grandpa Mullins were filling a silo with a
traction engine for power. Grandpa was firing the engine and
Great-grandpa would holler, ‘Bill, how’s the
water?’

‘It’s O. K., Dad.’

Later the question came, ‘How’s the water?’ The
reply was the same. This went on for a time, and Great-grandpa
decided to check the water himself. About that time the safety plug
melted out. Things got pretty exciting for both of them with all
that steam flying everywhere. Neither of them was hurt, but they
learned a good lesson. The water glass had shown one-half full when
the safety plug melted. Sediment and rust had plugged the plumbing
to the glass, and this caused the false reading. The petcock on the
bottom of the glass should always be opened before firing up to see
that no blockage exists.

During my childhood years at Hilliard, Ohio, I heard many steam
engine stories. My dad told about firing Great-grandpa Root’s
Baker in the middle 1930’s. This engine was sold during WW II
and used on a sawmill near Delaware, Ohio. The boiler later ended
up in a feed mill at New Albany, Ohio. Dad also told about going to
the Huber Reunion and seeing many used steam engines lined up in
sheds at the Marion, Ohio plant. The first steam show I can
remember Dad taking us to was at Mechanicsburg, Ohio in 1959. This
was the early days of Miami Valley Steam Threshers. Dad, my
brother, and I wanted to own a traction engine, but we just could
not afford it. Then, during the infancy of gasoline-engine
collecting, we started our own collection. (See GEM April 1986,
page 24 and August GEM 1987, page 20.) My brother and I also worked
for the Weber brothers that told us about their dad owning a Baker
engine during the 30’s.

In 1966, my family and I moved to Blowing Rock, North Carolina.
We brought with us our collection of gasoline-engines, Dad’s
railroad collection and many other antiques. We operated the
Frontier Village Museum from 1966 through the 1972 season. Bob
Powell, owner of the museum, had a fine collection of
steam-traction enginesFrick: 25 single, 16 single and double, 12
single. His mother owned an 18 HP Advance Rumely #15284 formerly
owned by Homer Holp, Brookville, Ohio. (See The Farm Album
Magazine, Summer 1949, page 9.) Bob taught my brother and me how to
maintain and operate steam engines. My favorite of all those
engines turned out to be the Advance Rumely. In 1967, Dad, my
brother, and I purchased a 20 HP Reeves. The museum closed, after
the 1972 season, and the Reeves was sold. Over the next fourteen
years, I was not able to purchase Mrs. Powell’s engine.

In 1986, Charlie Cutlip and I displayed our Raleigh and
Springfield gas engines at the Tuscarawas Valley Show at Dover,
Ohio. It didn’t take long to realize that steam is king at
their show. We had a great time exhibiting our engines and making
new friends. One new friend was Tom Woodard. His 18 HP Advance
Rumely was very similar to the one I had operated in North
Carolina. The more I was around Tom and his engine, the more I
found those fond memories of the Frontier Village steam engines
flooding my thoughts. Sunday morning Charlie and I attended the
worship service in the grandstands. I had never heard an Amish
preacher, but I came to the realization that even though Charlie
and I are Baptist, Christ’s message is the same for all. Sunday
evening rolled around, and we were watching Tom and his engine on
the sawmill. I stepped up on the rear platform, and the sound of
the exhaust, the smell of the steam cylinder oil, and rhythm of the
pulsating engine making music with the sawmill really hooked
me.

Monday morning we headed for a visit with my Grandma Mullins
near Sunbury, Ohio. I also took Charlie to meet a man who had
worked on many traction engines and knew Great-grandpa Root. This
man is Harry Lake. He is over ninety but still remembers well his
part in traction engine history. Tuesday found us at the Tri-State
show in Portland, Indiana. With steam on my mind, I had been
telling Charlie about a man in Indiana that owned over thirty steam
traction engines. After setting up for the show, we headed for
Keith Mauzy’s place. I had been to Keith’s place with my
dad in 1968, but I did not get to meet him. The time was early
afternoon when we parked our truck, but Keith was not at home. We
decided to look around and take some pictures. The iron monsters
were parked everywhere. While we were in the back part of the
field, someone pulled up to the shop and parked. Charlie and I
worked our way back up to the shop. When we walked inside the shop
I saw a man working on a bulldozer part. I asked who the proprietor
was and he said, ‘I reckon it’s me.’

He was busy and did not seem to be much for conversation. I kept
rattling on about growing up in Ohio, moving to North Carolina,
operating and maintaining the Homer Holp engine, being over at
Dover, and meeting Tom Woodard. Then I started telling about
restoring my 4 HP Peerless (See July-August IMA page one.) #10,343
and all the extra effort to have patterns and castings made to put
it back in the original condition, and suddenly Keith quit working
and started talking. We talked until Charlie was worn out with
hearing all that steam engine talk. Keith has a wealth of
information about Advance Rumely engines, all stored away in his
head. He encouraged me to try to buy the Holp-Powell engine, and I
told him it just was not possible. The sky was getting dark, and I
hated to leave, but I wanted to visit my army buddy at Huntington,
Indiana. We spent the night at Karla and Gary Funk’s and went
back to Portland for the show.

During the winter of 1987, I had to make the decisions
concerning what to sell out of my collection, to raise funds,
hopefully, to purchase a traction engine. I considered several
engines Case, Geiser, Russell, Port Huron, Advance and sent for
information, or I went to look at them. I called and talked to
several people and just kept looking. When the May-June IMA arrived
I saw an ad for a 20 HP Advance Rumely for sale in Illinois. My
heart was set on an 18; therefore, I just waited. The very next IMA
listed what I had been hoping for: an 18 HP Advance Rumely located
in Missouri.

That background gets us back to Art Buckwalter and his sending
me the picture of his engine. The photo arrived, and I could see
that Art’s engine looked pretty good. The paint was shot, and
the rear water tank was missing, but it showed plenty of
promise.

After calling Art, I learned more about the engine. His
father-in-law, Henry Kuntemeyer, had purchased the 18 HP Advance
Rumely from a sawmill site at LaGrange, Missouri. Art helped
re-flue it and do some other work after it was moved to Palmyra.
When Henry passed away, his daughter, Mary Kuntemeyer Buckwalter,
inherited the Advance Rumely. Because of Art’s job he was not
able to attend the steam shows. They made a decision to sell their
engine so that it would not deteriorate. We talked some more, and
came to an agreement on the purchase price.

Late in August, on a Saturday morning, Charlie, Gary White, my
wife’s cousin, and I headed for Palmyra, Missouri. I was so
wound up that I could not sleep the night before. My wife and two
children were happy that Dad and all that engine talk had left and
they could have some peace. I picked up Charlie at Hampton and Gary
at Elizabethtown, Tennessee, one hour early. We rolled along great
until we hit Paducah, Kentucky, or maybe it hit us. The temperature
was well over 105°, and the cab of our truck was almost unbearable
without an air conditioner. We toughed it out, but we decided while
driving through St. Louis that we could get a motel room and not
try to sleep in the camper.

I called Art from the motel at O’Fallon and got the
directions to the Kuntemeyer farm. After fourteen hours on the
road, I still could not get a good night’s sleep. The next day,
Gary said I was still wound up tighter than a banjo string. We
enjoyed a good Sunday breakfast and devotional about how Christians
can leave the door of their lives open for Satan to come in and
take away the joy of their salvation.

Back on the road, we traveled through Mark Twain’s home town
of Hannibal. I thought we would never get to Palmyra! On the north
end of town, we saw a traction engine under a shed. It was a
Nichols and Shepard, owned by Bob Snow. A short distance out of
town, we turned on a gravel road and drove to the Kuntemeyer farm.
It is a beautiful place with gentle rising slopes. We parked the
truck and camper at the barnyard gate. To our left we could see
smoke rising to the sky from the stack of the Advance Rumely that
was destined for the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

We met Art and Mary Buckwalter and Mary’s brothers, Herb and
Howard, and their families. Family and friends had gathered to see
the Advance Rumely operating on the Kuntemeyer farm for the last
time and to meet its future owner. After taking some pictures, I
began to check out what we had come to see. The canopy was
weathered, but it would be good for several more seasons. The coal
bunker was made from wood, and the rear water tank had been
replaced with a wood tool box. On the left was an original side
tank. The right tank had been replaced with a 55 gallon drum. The
rear deck showed a torch cut where part had been removed for easier
firing at the sawmill at La Grange. Art gave me a ride around the
barn. A double cylinder Rumely sat in the barnyard; this engine was
Howard’s. We proceeded down a farm path with a slight grade and
returned to the place we started from. Art watched me as I eased
the throttle back and put the engine in motion. To be operating a
steam traction engine again was quite a thrill. Some fourteen years
had passed since I had operated the Powell engine at Frontier
Village. One may get a little rusty, but, with steam in his veins,
one does not forget how it is done.

We were invited to a delicious meal, quite similar to what I
have heard threshermen were served. During the course of the day,
we learned that the Advance Rumely was purchased around 1960 at a
sawmill site in La Grange, Missouri. The previous owner was a man
named Norman Britewell. He had purchased the engine from Wilford
Shoemate, also of La Grange around 1954. Wilford’s
brother-in-law, Virden Winship, said they used the Advance Rumely
on the farm sawmill during the middle 40’s to 50’s. Wilford
had purchased the engine from the Williamstown, Missouri area. (I
would appreciate any information, pictures of my engine in use, and
any leads on owners prior to Wilford Shoemate. Can anyone tell me
anything that is part of the history of my engine?)

That evening Herb’s son, Wayne, took us to Hannibal for
supper and to visit a Mark Twain display. We pulled electricity for
the camper from the barn and got a good night’s rest. Bright
and early the next morning, I rolled out of my bunk and headed for
the engine with tool box in hand. After draining the boiler, I
pulled several hand hole plates. Everything looked to be in good
shape. At the bottom of the boiler shell and in the mud ring, was
an accumulation of oily sludge. This was caused by oil having been
added to the water at the end of summer and drained slowly. An oil
film was deposited on all inside parts of the boiler. I knew this
could be removed after getting the engine home. The firebox showed
no signs of abuse or neglect. Rocker grates were still operable,
missing only the piece that ties the side bars together in the
front. Two of the 1′ firebox flues had been plugged, and the
other two appeared to be original. One axle oil hole cover was
missing, but everything else was in place. Even the tools Mr.
Kuntemeyer had used to adjust packings, etc., were in the homemade
toolbox.

The governor was worn, and the cross shaft bearings were shot,
but it could be repaired. The engine showed signs of a lot of use,
but it was in good shape. I was confident that this was about as
good an original engine as I could ever hope to own. After taking a
shower, (when I get around any kind of machinery, the oil and
grease just seem to jump out all over me, but I thoroughly enjoy
getting dirty, so my wife says) we enjoyed a fine country breakfast
with Herb, Mary and Wayne.

When Art arrived, we discussed transporting the Advance Rumely
to North Carolina. We contacted Potterfield trucking of Monroe
City, Missouri and made arrangements to have the engine delivered
to Tweetsie R.R. Show Grounds. (This is the location of the
Carolina Flywheeler’s Show called the ‘Autumn Leaves
Crank-Up.’)

After leaving the Kuntemeyer farm, Charlie, Gary, and I drove to
Mt. Pleasant and visited the museum. We then went on to the
Tri-State Portland, Indiana Show.

We were glad to get back home on Sunday. The trip was one we
will never forget.

We operated our engine during the 1987 and 1988 Crank-Ups. Brown
Brothers Construction provided transportation to and from the show.
Complete restoration will take several more years. To date, the
following have been repaired: throttle valve, governors,
lubricator, pop-off valve. I have installed new plumbing from the
steam dome to governor, and built a coal bunker to original
dimensions from 12 gauge steel walls and ‘ plate bottom, and
new tool box above bunker. I purchased an Advance Rumely steam
gauge from Tom Woodward and had it calibrated at Tweetsie Railroad.
I removed 1′ side firebox flues and had new ones installed by
Link Iron Works. I replaced the seat with one given to me by a long
time friend, Quentin Hargus. I removed the old safety plug and
replaced it with a new one. I removed the side tank and drum and
replaced them with two new drums. I will install two original tanks
when I find another one to go with the one I have. I removed the
ash pan hangers and complete grate system. I had a pattern made for
the two pieces that hold the rocker grate sides together. I had
those pieces cast and put it all back together again with part new
hangers and some repaired. The new ash pan bottom is 3/16’ and
has three pieces of angle iron installed on the bottom to keep it
from bowing. This summer I plan to build a shop so that I can do a
complete restoration. There are 23 known 18 HP Advance Rumelys in
existence.

Our 18 HP Advance Rumely is 9 x 10 Universal #15082. This was
the first 18 HP built by Advance Rumely in 1920. The following
information is taken from original #25 Repair Parts List for
Universal Steam Engines, owned by Keith Mauzy.

The following number of Advance Rumely Universal Steam Traction
engines were built:

Dates

Bore & Stroke

# Built

1915-17

9×10 & 8 x 10 16 HP

11

1917-22

9×10 (1 compound 7 & 10 x9) 18 HP

105

1916-24

9 x 11 9×10 (1 comp 9 &12×10) 20 HP

368

1915-17

9×11 22HP

28

1915-20

10×12 (comp 9 & 13×12) 25 HP

50

I owe a special thanks to my entire family, including my wife,
Judy, our daughter, Kristi, and our son, Jody. They encourage me
with my hobby, and that makes it very enjoyable. We live in a land
of special blessings from God, America, home of the free!

Farm Collector Magazine

Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment