Restoration work started as soon as weather and time permitted.
We found the engine in the spring of 1972 on a farm near Brussels, Illinois, mired in the dirt beside an old saw mill. The engine had been at this location since the 1940’s when it was last used on the sawmill. After many visits to the farm, the Charles Fester family decided to let us purchase the engine.
We bought the engine on February 23, 1974. It was moved by lowboy on April 11, 1974, by way of the Golden Eagle Ferry, across the Mississippi River and then twenty miles to St. Peters, Missouri.
Old flues were removed and new 10 gauge flues were installed. The 45 flues measured 2′ x 84′ long. The back wheels and gearing were removed to build up the pinion gears, replace the bushings in the differential gears and pour new babbit bearings on the top caps on the main rear axle. New steel channels were replaced on the platform. The canopy was beyond repair so a new one was constructed of white fir lumber and covered with corrugated tin. The smoke stack was removed to repair broken flange. (This is not the original stack but one from a Minneapolis engine. Would like to find an original Illinois stack.) The smoke box door had several cracks which were brazed by my son, Len. I also had excellent help with cleaning parts and painting from my daughter, Valery and wife, Betty.
While mentioning excellent help, I must include a very dear friend, Mr. Arthur Ell of St. Peters, Missouri, a long-time thresherman who gave me the professional help I needed to restore the engine.
We steamed the engine on July 20, 1976 with a gathering of friends who helped in the restoration.
The next project was to get the new water tank and coal bunker made and installed. Two nephews had access to a metal brake and made new ones of 10 gauge metal.
Throughout the three years of restoration work on weekends and vacations, we also did research on the Illinois Engine and the Company that produced it:
Illinois Thresher Company Sycamore, Illinois
1912 to 1924 (approx.)
Wm. N. RumleyPres.
Geo. E. Dutton-Vice Pres.
P. B. McIntyre-Sec.
Approximately 63 engines produced, Ser. #100 to 163. The only engines known to exist are:
#10220HP Leonard Bruns Mo.
#13520HP E. J. Murphy Iowa
#14720HP J. Vetter
#15225HP D. Schultz Iowa
#16325HP N. Gould Illinois
Anyone having more information on other Illinois engines, please write to me: Leonard Bruns, 12 Miller Place, Ferguson, MO 63135. Phone 314-522-8541