Union City, Indiana
Grandpa may like to be out there at his shop, working on his
steam engine, you can betcha. But, when Grandpa’s little seven
month old granddaughter was confined to a complete body-cast, to be
confined for months away from the family in a lonely bedroom, you
can bet that Gramps banked the fires on his beloved Case and went
back to the ‘drawing boards’ to do something about it.
Yes it’s the story about a steam engineer who thought his
first love was his steam engine. That is, until his little
granddaughter, Karen was hospitalized in a body cast and would have
to remain that way for eight long months. All of which was going to
mean that little Karen would have to be oh so lonely in her
bedroom, for oh so long, while the rest of her family and playmates
would be elsewhere doing chores and having fun. Then it was that
Lloyd Seidel, the Iron-Man Hero of our story, let the fires die
down and the boiler pressure dwindle away to fulfill an old promise
he’d made, to help others, back in his high school days that,
with the help of the Lord and his new knowledge he’d make
something to lighten little Karen’s load.
For a while Karen’s folks thought she could be more with
them and more maneuverable both at the hospital and later at home,
if she could be pulled about in a child’s coaster wagon. But
Grandpa, Lloyd seidel’s inventive mind soon saw through the
problems involved and sought immediately to do something about
‘At the hospital I noted how awkward it was to try to pull a
wagon around the sharp turns between beds and stands without
hitting or running into something,’ explained Lloyd to me, the
first year we attended the Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Show at
Georgetown, Ohio, back in 1971. Parents, let alone a nurse or
nurse’s aid simply couldn’t steer a coaster wagon around,
unless they set down what they were carrying and use both hands one
to pull and steer the front wheels, the other to lift the rear
wheels around the obstacles. (How well I know that, recalling the
good old days when I used to deliver fresh country butter for the
neighborhood store in an old wooden coaster wagon.)
Determined to do something about it and make little Karen’s
life and everyone else’s a little easier and happier, Lloyd
Seidel began visualizing and improvising some rather simple
mechanical principles. The kind of ideas an engine man gets around
his steam engine if ever and whenever he decides he can make it
work or steam a little bit better.
The age old idea that a wagon should be guided by only the front
wheels and axle seemed a little archaic to Lloyd. For centuries it
got the front end of the wagon around tree stumps and protruding
rocks and barn corners, but that didn’t keep the back end from
whacking the same object.
Why not guide or steer both the front axle and wheels and the
rear axle and wheels at the same time with the same handle? And, in
so doing, the rear end of the coaster wagon would follow around any
object, the same as the front end did. And the nurse, or parent,
taking care of the child would not have to use both hands, or set a
glass or pitcher down, to do it.
Yes they were very simple mechanical principles that Lloyd
Seidel had drafted on his Patent Description, and made into his
Patent Model in his farm shop, in order to apply for such a patent.
But, simple though they may be, no one has ever seen a coaster
wagon, or a farm wagon for that matter, that ever came close to
operating and maneuvering so easily as does the one that Lloyd
affectionately refers to as ‘Karen’s Kustom
It was encouraging to Engineer Lloyd Seidel to hear hospital
personnel brag about his invention how it made the moving of
non-ambulatory patients so much easier in and out of the hospital
doors and the crowded rooms.
‘The hospital people told me there would be quite a demand
for such a conveyance throughout America and elsewhere,’
confided Seidel. ‘But, of course, there is the big problem of
finding a manufacturer, and, after that, marketing.’
But Lloyd Seidel, inventor as well as Iron-Man, went right ahead
applied for his patent and, after the usual weeks of searching the
national patent files, he was awarded the patent.
And, with little Karen long over her big ordeal of lying
bedridden and stiff in a body-length plaster cast, at least our
engineer Lloyd Seidel can have that joy in his heart which comes to
one who has done so much for one so dear and little, even if modern
red tape and competition often stifle an inventor from helping
others with his inventions. (Like those more economical carburetors
sabotaged by the auto and oil industries, years ago, but which
could be saving millions of gallons of gas, in our fuel crisis,
But, for one Lloyd Seidel, the greatest, most fun invention ever
created by man’s ingenious inquisitiveness was the steam
engine. (Another great victim of the auto-oil industrial combine
the builder of the American Railways Systems and of American
Agriculture, till we become the ‘Leader and Feeder of the
Says Lloyd, ‘From the time I was three, my uncle had a steam
engine which always fascinated me in watching it run at threshing
and corn shredding. The older I got, the more I got interested. The
first thing I got to do was to toot the whistle when they were
going to start and stop. Finally I got to let water in the boiler
with the Leader Injector, then stop and start the engine when on
the belt. I rode the water wagon and pumped the tank from ponds
‘But, by the time I got old enough to operate a steam engine
or act as engineer, my uncle broke over and purchased a 15/30
Horsepower International Harvester Company Tractor which ended my
steam engine career, until the O.V.A.M. started in 1970,’
laments Iron Man Seidel.
It was at this time that Ed Fiscus had his Baker Engine. And,
since Lloyd Seidel’s wife had to work the gate at the show,
from seven to nine in the mornings, this left our Iron-Man with
nothing to do, but look at the steam engines and wish he had
Soon wishing became wanting. And then there was that urge to
rake the ashes out of Ed Fiscus’s Baker and sort of build a
‘By the time Ed Fiscus arrived at the show, I had 55 p.s.i.
of steam in his boiler and he laughed when he saw it,’ muses
Lloyd. ‘He said, ‘How would you like to play around with my
engine during the show?’ ‘
‘But, I said, the boiler would soon be needing some more
water and I didn’t know how to operate the Penberthy
Injectors,’ was the way that Lloyd Seidel answered.
‘However, Mr. Glen Hill (one of our former Iron-Men) had just
driven in to fire up his engine, and Ed Fiscus said he would help
and assist me in running the Baker.’
From then on everything went fine.
But it wasn’t until 1972 that a man passing out hand-bills,
gave one to Lloyd. And on that bill was listed a Case 50-horse
steam engine for sale.
‘After I got the okay from my wife, to buy that engine, I
got Mr. Hill to go along with me and look it over,’ says Seidel
with a glint of remembered glee in his eye and a hefty chomp on his
well-chewed cigar. ‘Hill’s decision was that I could not go
wrong in buying it.’
‘So I bought that Case from Mr. T. K. Owen at Jackson, Ohio,
in August of ’72 and by September it was home. I did all the
work of restoring it, except for a little boiler welding which
required a certified welder,’ explains Lloyd.
‘I got interested in steam as a boy, but it hit me harder
later in life,’ is the way Lloyd Seidel sums it all up.
‘Although neither my wife, Nera, nor my daughter care about the
engine, my grandchildren all think it’s great. And that
includes little nine year old Karen Sue who loves Grandpa as well
as the Case Engine because of what he once did to make her well and
healthy and happy by inventing a new-fangled coaster wagon to pull
her around in.
So, you see, you only get to keep what you give away. Give a
little love away, and years later it returns, like the bread cast
upon the water to bless the giver over and over again.
Although wife Nera only rode once on hubby’s Case Engine and
that only at the insistance of friends at the local Georgetown,
Ohio, O.V.A.M. Show you can betcha that little nine year old Karen
has ridden it and tooted the mighty Case whistle.
But the one wonderful thing that both my wife and I so
appreciate about Iron-Man Lloyd Seidel and his Case Steam Engine is
the fact that, whenever he arrives at the show grounds, he always
drives his steaming Case up by our Iron-Man Stand and hands down
the morning edition of The Cincinnati Enquirer.
‘That’s the first newspaper boy I ever saw delivering
his papers by steam engine,’ said I to Pat. (How’s that for
And, for my book, and hers that’s reason enough for any
steam engineer to be elevated to our Hall of Iron-Man Fame.
Come Lloyd bring along little Karen Sue and let her blow the
Case whistle all the way, too.