Union City, Indiana.
Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana 47390. IRON-MAN
(WOMAN) Mrs. Florence Klusman of Hemritage, Mo., points out minute
details of tiny scale model Case engine and water wagon she made
from aminated paper. Paul Curtiss left the Prony Brake at Wauseon,
N.T.A. to see the model. Shown here, Curtiss peers into open smoke
box door to observe actual flues. Gears on the quadrant, spark
arresters on the stack, working clutch, grates that shake,
throttle, wheel spokes even to rivet head ends of spokes in the
tire all are on this authentic Case Model, serial number 1458. Mrs.
Klusman didn’t know a thing about an engine, but got up on the
engines, asked the men what this and that was for then went about
making the laminated paper model to perfection.
Men you horny-handed sons of toil who strut like cock-roosters,
tooting whistles and yanking throttles at a threshermen’s
reunion as if steam engines were solely a man’s world! You of
the masculine gender who flash wrenches and feint with your
long-spouted oil cans, like the fabled knights of yore, as if in
mortal combat with the Iron Horse while the weaker sex looks on
But gentlemen you who envision yourselves as the vaunted masters
of the mighty steam engine in all its diverse, multi-faceted
idiosyncracies from firebox to pop-off have never really fabricated
a complete steam traction engine from wheel spokes to cap-stack and
whistle, with but your two hands, like a certain little lady we
know. Oh, you brag about the engines you’ve built more possibly
assembled from parts the factories have cast and machined. But
we’ll wager you didn’t actually fashion every piece and
part, say the boiler, the quadrant and gears of the throttle, the
water pump, the gages, cocks and valves and other gadgets, not to
mention even the flues, as perfectly scaled and workable as has
Florence Klusman, using only her two hands, a pair of scissors, a
razor blade and lots of womanly inquisitiveness and intuition.
Yes, men you who fawn at the reunions over the model steam
engines you’ve built from the catalog parts-lists, the
components that the shops have lathed and machined for you to
assemble let’s see you try your hand at making a scale model
Case Engine from nothing more than laminated paper, so perfect that
every part works like the prototype from which it was scaled down
to tea-table proportions.
‘If it were possible to put steam into this little Case
boiler, it would run and operate just like the big engine,’
says the comely Florence Klusman, Iron Man-woman of the month, who
hails from the little village of Hermitage, Missouri.
And coming from Missouri, as Florence does, she literally
‘had to be shown’ how everything worked, measured and
appeared in proper proportion on the prototype before she could get
back to her kitchen table and meticulously make the tiny parts
which ultimately became the superb model Case she displays annually
at the various steam threshing reunions.
‘I didn’t know a thing about a steam engine,’
explains Florence with a twinkle of triumph over the masculine
gender in her feminine eyes. ‘I had to get up on the engine
decks, ask the engineers what this part did and how it was fastened
onto the engine, what kind of gears it had and what drove it,
before I could scale it down and then make it up out of laminated
‘I had trouble making the worm-gear, and I had to ask the
enginemen about the reverse,’ she goes on to explain. ‘For
instance I made the intermediate gear out of a strip of paper a
quarter-inch wide and ninety-four inches long, notched with a razor
blade for gears, which I glued together in thin laminations for the
The steam gage she fashioned from the cover off a bottle of
Canadian Salad Dressing. The smoke-box door-latch was made from an
earring, and it latched the door perfectly.
The little Case model was one of the wonders displayed at the
National Threshers Association Reunion at Wauseon, Ohio. But it was
standing unnoticed in a dark corner of one of the display cases in
the National Thresher-women’s exhibit. Barely noticing it,
right across from the scale model locomotives which I was
displaying, and the Ritzman Iron Man Album headquarters, my eye
finally acught its significance just as the big reunion was drawing
to a close.
When I was informed a woman had made it, and that it was a
perfect scale model with all the working parts and of paper at that
I had George call in the little woman genius from somewhere on the
grounds so we could remove it from its darkened case and get a
picture of the tiny marvel.
Grabbing opportunity by the horns, we likewise paged some
engineer-worthies and mechanical geniuses of the masculine gender,
such as President LeRoy Blaker and Paul Curtiss to look over the
fabulous little Case model and evaluate its various components from
an experienced man’s standpoint.
‘It’s complete in every part certainly the work of a
genius,’ commented Blaker, extending his sun-tanned
engineer’s paw, like a Pope giving his blessing to the tiny
Lilliputian Case. ‘It would really run if you could fire it
The cleats, spokes and rivets in the connection plates of the
wheels were what first caught the fancy of Paul Curtiss, operator
of the Prony Brake at Wauseon and long-time member of N.T.A.
‘All the rivets (spoke-ends) show in the wheel rims, just
like on the real engines,’ commented Curtiss, taking his seat
to get a close-eye view of the little wonder.
From part to part, the deft fingers of Iron Man (Woman),
Florence Klusman pointed with pride demonstrating how the little
firebox grates actually work, the boiler drain, the guide-chain
roller all of which appeared to Curtiss to be absolutely correct in
scale and function.
‘The wheels all turn, and the steering mechanism works,’
added Florence, demonstrating a deft maneuver by turning the little
steering wheel, like a veteran engineer lining up the belt to a
separator. ‘At first I used graphite to lubricate the steering
and other workable parts, but I discovered that was too
Opening the little firebox door, Paul Curtiss exclaimed,
‘Why you’ve even got a ‘fire’ in there.’
To which replied Iron Man (Woman) Florence Klusman, ‘I used
red glitter-glass to look like live coals.’
As Curtiss peered into the open smoke box front he almost
shouted, ‘Look it’s got a real set of flues!’
‘Yes the right number and size, just like the big Case,’
The spark tube on the front of the smokestack, and the spark
arrester all are right in their places just as the Case Factory
blueprints have dictated. And, should the job of the day happen to
call for threshing in the broad, sweeping wheat lands of Kansas or
Nebraska there’s a peep-hole cover used when burning straw for
fuel. The whistle chain she made from a delicate bit of jewelry
chain found in her mother’s jewel box.
For keeping the little Case in perfect combustion, there is a
diminutive flue-swab and also a tiny scoop, all made of paper, for
shovelling the scale-sized coal from the coal-bunker, while, for
proper long-life lubrication, Florence fashioned a very minute
engineer’s tallow pot all necessary accoutrements in the great
Age of Steam.
‘Even the pump on the water wagon works,’ exclaims Iron
Man (Woman) Florence Klusman. ‘And the rear drawbar hitch hooks
up just like the big one.’
Just as in viewing the marvelous ingenuity exhibited in the tiny
Case model, so the water wagon was equally a reflection of this
unusual lady’s engineering skill.
‘At night I dream of how to do things, then get up and work
with them,’ explains Florence. ‘I have to work while the
paper is wet, I make my own paste and work right with the
‘My husband, John Klusman, retired from the telephone
company in 1955, is a very patient man. Sometimes, when I get a
good idea that can’t wait, I get out of bed and start working
on it,’ she continued.
Florence Klusman began her interesting work in fabricating
unusual objects from laminated paper when she worked with the late
Walt Disney, early in his career, at a motion picture advertising
company in Kansas City, about 1920.
There’s absolutely nothing but what Mrs. Florence Klusman
can make out of paper, when the fancy strikes her.
‘I made a very decorative and ornate copy of the cup in the
Russian Royal collection as well as other art pieces pictured in
She loves to make wrist watch boxes, lined with velvet, and
beautiful to behold.
Often she’s called upon to make tiny paper models of famous
persons or patriotic figures for tableaux she creates for
‘We have no children I can pose, so my poor husband has to
be my model for all the human figures I make,’ sighs Mrs.
Klusman. ‘He has to be a dear to be so kind and cooperative,
Though Mrs. Florence Klusman may not be known well all over her
hometown of Hermitage, Missouri (population 340), she has, by
virtue of her unparalleled skill at outdoing the masculine
engineers in making a complete and working scale model of a Case
Steam Engine, succeeded in scaling the mountain top to claim her
rightful place in the Iron Man Hall of Fame.
We doff our hat and bare our pate to this pert and knowledgeable
little female genius for out-engineering the male engineers who
thought they had ‘done their thing.’
Mrs. Klusman, since you can make ‘anything out of paper’
could it be that by the time next season rolls ’round you will
have worked out some method of fabricating steam out of laminated
paper, so the little Case Engine can run for the many who will want
to drop by and see it in actual operation? (So far everything’s
there but the steam!)
And oh yes, Iron Man (Woman) Klusman why not make a big sign
(out of paper of course) to let folks know your wonderful scale
model engine is around at National Threshers or at Mt. Pleasant,
where you exhibit it year after year. And don’t forget to point
out the serial number, Case 1458, so the male engineers can check
on the authenticity of your model’s prototype. (For they’re
a jealous bunch, you know.)