Iron Man Of The Month

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Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana Guy Sams, builder, makes a fine adjustment on governor on beautiful half-size model of Geiser engine he built.
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Courtesy of Joseph Bjerkvig, Zumbrota, Minnesota 55992 This is an enlarged view of the Case separator from scene No. 1 and everybody is busy tending to their duties. Note that the grain was sacked and hauled home in sacks in those days.
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If I owned a certain model of a Geiser Engine it would have to
be given to me, I couldn’t make it I’m afraid it would be
housed in a glass case with the builder’s name and all its
specifications hand-engraved on a golden plaque placed thereon. Oh
yes, it would be oiled and lubricated and wiped free of every last
vestige of whatever grime and coal smoke it might have accumulated
in its short but spectacular career during its ‘coming out
season’ at last year’s reunions. But from here on out I
would guarantee that not a speck of dust or solitary beard of wheat
would be allowed to settle thereon, to otherwise blemish what I
feel is ‘the perfect engine model’.

What a horrid thought to wish upon young Russell Sams whose
throttle fingers itch to yank levers, screw valves and jerk whistle
cords on the beautiful half-size model of the 22-60 Geiser his
father, Guy, made just for fun, and to show other model-builders
what a model should look like.

‘What kind is it? Who made it? Boy, isn’t she a
beauty?’ exclaimed old-time engineers, their jaws dropping in
amazement as they stepped off engine decks and congregated to see
the shiny black and gold traction engine chuffing its way across
the infield at Wauseon’s 1966 National Thresher’s Reunion.
The figure of a young engineer rumped over the boiler back head,
adjusting valve-gear and throttle as he inched the mechanical
beauty in position for belting up to a tiny Baker Fan. The throttle
latched imperceptibly back, the fly-wheel began turning, the Baker
Fan whirring, while from the diminutive stack barked the sweetest,
sharpest ‘music’ ever heard by the ear of an engineer. A
tiny, over all ed figure sauntered up, whipped out a pack of
Beechnut ‘chawin’ tobacco’ and ‘filled up’,
then mingled among the crowd of gawking, bug-eyed onlookers as if
to get an ear-full of the praises and exclamations that were

The crowd edged in front of him, to get a better view. After all
he seemed the least important figure around, when there was such a
beautiful steam engine model to look at. And, could it be that
‘impressive figures’ just don’t count where there’s
a crowd, anyway?

After watching awhile, the little overalled fellow, his mouth
well-filled with ‘leaf-scrap’, stepped up to the
finely-working little engine and began giving orders and making
adjustments. The engine stack began barking ever the sharper, the
tiny Baker Fan whirring ever the faster while the young engineer,
stooped over the throttle, began smiling like a son, proud of his

It was none other than Guy Sams that diminutive figure in
overalls. For it was his Geiser Engine he was proudly showing,
fresh from his home workshop down in Hillsboro, Southern Ohio. And
just as proud of both engine and Dad, was young Russell Sams,
pulsating to that vibrating deck.

‘Daddy built this engine all by himself,’ exclaimed a
jubilant Russell over the bark of stack and hiss of steam.

‘So you’re the little genius who made this wonderful
Geiser Engine?’ queried I, as I attempted to interview Guy
Sams, hard by the barking stack.

‘Well, I guess you might say I made it,’ replied the
elder Sams, a bit modest and hesitant to exhibit any pride over the
beautiful engine model for which he had made all the drawings, the
patterns and most of the parts.

‘I had no factory blue-prints with which to work from,’
explains Guy. ‘I didn’t even have any pictures. But I
always preferred the Geiser Engine worked with a Geiser many times
and I made all my blue-prints and patterns from memory,’ says

Just then I began dancing a bit unceremoniously, only, instead
of holding a cave man’s spear in my left hand, and tomahawk in
my right, I was clutching onto a microphone and operating a tape
recorder while a very large spark was burning a very large hole in
my trouser leg and recording case.

‘You’re gonna burn up, Joe,’ exclaimed Guy Sams,
trying to beat out another large spark which had settled onto the
back of my neck, while I tried to keep up my patter as if nothing
were happening.

‘Altogether, I’d say it took me about six years to make
this model,’ explained Guy. ‘But, if I was to make another,
I could do it in shorter time. I’ve saved all my patterns and
could work from them.’

Of his particular choice of the Geiser Engine for modeling, says
Guy Sams, ‘I always thought the Geiser was one of the finest
engines I had ever operated. The Geiser Company had their own kind
of valve-gear, and I liked the way it worked,’ explained Sams,
pointing out some of the unusual engineering features of his
precision model.

‘This model has a sharp exhaust that sounds just like the
original engine,’ continued Guy. ‘It has a four and
three-quarter inch bore and a five-inch stroke, the fly-wheel is
twenty-one inches in diameter. Before I made the valve-gear, I
modeled some of the working parts in cardboard.’

Guy Sams, the little workshop genius from down Hillsboro-way in
southern Ohio, gleaned his engineering know-how from the many years
he’d labored as a small town garage man back in the days of
hand-cranked tinlizzies, that glorious by-gone era of
fender-flopping Fords, jolting jalopies and assorted leaping leans
such as Max wells, Overlands, long-snouted Studebakers and bolting

‘I worked on all kinds of cars in them days,’ chortled
Sams, shifting his cud to the other side of his mouth. ‘But
best of all I liked to work throttle on my Geiser Steam

‘Your Dad’s having the time of his life, showing this
model Geiser,’ said I to young Russell Sams.

‘Yes,’ said Russell. ‘But,’ continued he, his
voice breaking and hiding a tear, ‘He feels he’s getting a
little too old to enjoy it.’

‘Nonsense,’ replied I. ‘Your Dad’s plenty happy
he has a son who cart run this engine and appreciate it. What if he
didn’t have a son to show it off for him?’

‘Yes, you’re right, Joe,’ replied Russell, regaining
his composure and reaching for the throttle of his half-sized
Geiser. (Did I say his? Well, to look at Russell you’d think he
already owned it, and we wouldn’t blame him a bit.)

Off they chuffed Geiser, Russell and Guy. The beautiful Sams
model Geiser had successfully made its official debut into Steam
Engine Society.

And now, after son, Russell, had proudly wiped every bit of
grime and grease from piston rod, fly-wheel and boiler and taken
his Geiser Engine to bed with him, we left him to revel in the
sweet dreams of a boy with a spank in’ new engine.

With his arm snugly around the boiler, he was soon off to the
Land of Nod while Daddy, who made the thing, snored loudly in
another bed.

Sweet dreams, Russell and Guy Sams tomorrow will always be
another day for you and your engine. And, after tomorrow night,
Daddy Guy Sams will be proudly wearing a National Threshermens
Charter Member pin publicly bestowed upon him, by President, LeRoy
Blaker, for helping to found the grand-daddy of all such American

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