L. E. Walker at the throttle of his 60 HP Case getting it ready to take to a Memorial Parade. Courtesy of Mrs. William M. Ross, Box #44, Paragon, Indiana 46166.
Box 44, Paragon, Indiana 46166
I am sending an article for the 'IRON MAN ALBUM' which I hope you can publish. This article is about my dad, L. E. Walker, who is quite a steam engine fan and never misses a chance to talk about engines, work on them, or drive for miles to see one.
He is quite active in the Rushville show and also takes his engines to the Tipton 'Elwood' show. They usually take them right from Rushville to Tipton.
He is 75 years old, and has lived at Morgantown and community close by all of his life. He was a former after he gave up the sawmill and threshing rings in the middle thirties, but never gave up his love for the two as it was always a hobby with him. Now that he is retired, he spends most of his time 'playing' with his engines and sawmill.
Like to talk about steam? Just go anytime to the farm north of Morgantown, Indiana, R.R. #1, where Lawrence E. Walker and his wife, Helen, live. Before you leave you will be talking of steam engines, looking at his pictures of engines he has owned in the past, and steam shows he has attended. Then, you will have to go out to the shed to see his engines. He now has two. An 80 HP Case, serial no. 35824, and an Advance Rumely, 22 hp, serial no. 14440, which have been restored to their original beauty. Next you will have to go to the sawmill he has built and look it over.
He does most of his sawing himself and has electrified most everything so he can handle it. He only does custom sawing now. Of course, he uses the steam engine for power -just to hear it purr and puff.
He had his steam thresher outfit back in the 1920's and 1930's. He went from farm to farm, during the summer, doing the threshing of the harvest for each particular farmer with help exchanged among the neighbors. The women congregated at each farmhouse to get the dinner ready (dinner was served at noon in those days). Even the young girls and boys helped. The girls helped with the plucking of the chickens, which was the meat of the summer, and the young boys would carry water and lemonade to the threshers for refreshment.
The first that L. E. (as he is called by his friends) can remember of a steam engine is his dad's 10 hp Russell. When he was 12 years old he helped fire his dad's Aultman-Taylor in the threshing ring. Then, at 14 years old, he helped fire his uncle's 60 HP Case. At 26 years of age he had an engine of his own, a 15-45 Case. By this time his dad also had a 15-45 Case. They both had identical threshing outfits and went in different directions through the community harvesting the grain.
He has also owned several other engines down through the years: a double Nichols-Shepard, Baker, and three Case engines, and the Advance Rumely. The Case became his favorite of all steam traction engines. He bought his Baker in 1934 for $65.00 from the Hart & Hart Tie-Yard at Columbus, Indiana, and drove it home over the roads, which was legal in those days. He still has the bill of sale for this one.
He has restored several engines in later years, including three of his own. The 60 HP Case, S/N 34165, the 80 HP Case, S/N 35824, and just last summer he and his son have finished restoring the Advance Rumely, S/N 14440. He also restored a Keck-Gonnerman for a friend. L. E. has a repair shop on the farm, and if he can't find the part he needs for the engine he is working on, he makes it himself, 'Precision made to perfection.' He had to replace the flue sheet and completely reflue the 60 HP Case and the 22 HP Advance Rumely. One man who was there one day when he was working on the Case, and had it all torn down and laying around on the ground, and the boiler on wooden blocks; looked at it, shook his head, and remarked, 'It will never run again.' But, later that same year, he had to eat his words as it was the most beautiful engine - looking as if it had just come from the foundry, all painted to regulation, and ran like a top.
But L. E. wasn't satisfied with that one when he saw an 80 HP Case at Waterloo, Indiana one summer. He couldn't rest until he was the owner of it and had it in his own barnyard. The number of this one is 35824. It is his pride and joy; almost any Sunday you will find him climbing around on it with a rag in one hand, wiping it down, and, an oil can in the other, getting it ready to fire up. He says this one is one of the last that was built and it is restored to the point that you might think it was never used.
His second love is sawmills. Anytime you can't find him at the steam engines, at the steam shows; just look around the sawmill and you will probably find him offbearing, helping in some other way, or just setting and watching. He had a sawmill all during the depression at several locations in Brown County, Indiana, and he kept himself and his family in food and shelter without helping from the Government. He would set his mill up right in the edge of the woods and cut the timber and saw it until that woods was finished then move the mill down the road seven or eight miles and set up again for another strip of woods.
L. E. and his wife look forward to the summer months, now that he is retired. Then they carl hitch their travel trailer to the car and attend all the steam shows over the country. His wife is as much of an enthusiast as he is. They usually make ten to fifteen shows every summer. Just mention his name at almost any show from Rollag, Minnesota to Springfield, Missouri, and it is a good bet that someone will say, 'Oh yes, you mean Walker, who has the 80 HP Case at the Rushville Show.' He and his wife usually arrive on Wednesday before the show and he can be found helping get the engines ready and checked out for the next few days before the opening day.
They attended the second show on the Leroy Blaker Farm in Alvordton, Ohio, which later became the National Thresher's Association at Wauseon, Ohio. They have been there every year since. They also go to Rollag and Dalton, Minnesota; Pinkneyville and Pontiac, Illinois; Mt. Pleasant. Iowa; Greenville and London, Ohio; Springfield, Missouri; Tipton and Portland, Indiana; and, of course, his own show at Rushville, Indiana.
He arrives back home in plenty of time to get his engine ready for the Rushville Pioneer Engineer's Club Show and this year, he will be taking the Advance Rumely also.
He is a director of the Rushville Pioneer Engineer's Club and looks forward to the meetings of the club during the year. His Case is the! largest engine at this show and in 1973 was presented a plaque attesting to this fact.
Other antiques he possesses are: A40-62 Huber tractor, a Twin City tractor, and a Huber separator which he operates with his engines.
Yes, any time you want to talk about steam, or need advice on engines, just look up L. E. - he thrives on it.