Purrfect Timing for Another Kitten Steam Engine

Possibility of a museum spurs purchase of a Kitten steam engine.

| Summer 2006

  • Kitten near completion
    Kitten engine no. 197 near its completion.
  • Kitten Removed
    How the Kitten engine no. 197 looked after being removed from the woods and unloaded at the Lindauer farm.
  • Back View
    The back view of the Kitten engine where it sat for about 28 years in the woods.
  • Wheel
    The wheel and gearing, which seemed to be in above average condition.
  • Cylinder
    The cylinder side of the engine. The cylinder was stuck, yet all there.
  • Water Tank
    The engine after the water tank was installed and various parts installed.
  • Canopy
    Moving the new canopy into position.
  • Back End Restoration
    The back end of the engine after moving it to the shop for restoration.
  • Flues
    All the flues and most of the stay bolts on the Kitten engine no. 197 had to be replaced. Henry Kempf, a retired boiler maker and a friend of the Lindauer family, welded the boiler.
  • Completed Kitten
    The complete Kitten engine after being pulled out the Lindauer shop.
  • Lindauer’s three Kitten engines
    The Lindauer’s three Kitten engines, no. 176, no. 197 and no. 214, plus a model Kitten engine (far left).
  • Pulling Engine Forward
    Pulling the engine forward in order to place the canopy in the correct position.

  • Kitten near completion
  • Kitten Removed
  • Back View
  • Wheel
  • Cylinder
  • Water Tank
  • Canopy
  • Back End Restoration
  • Flues
  • Completed Kitten
  • Lindauer’s three Kitten engines
  • Pulling Engine Forward

The Florens Kitten family was born in Prussia in 1840. When Florens was 10 he moved with his family to the United States where they settled in a promising Indiana farming area near Ferdinand. Florens helped his father on the farm until he was 19, then for six years he worked as a carpenter. It was at the end of this period that the name Kitten began to spread in popularity.

Florens was the founder of the Ferdinand Foundry & Machine Works. He started by building steam engines and steam threshers in the second floor of his home around 1880. On May 29, 1889, he filed an application with the United States Patent Office to receive the patent rights for his steam engine, thresher and sawmill. This patent no. 409,594 was granted on Aug. 20, 1889.

Soon, area farmers saw the need for his equipment, and he needed a bigger building. Florens constructed a two-story factory and foundry adjoining his home.

The first engines built used an upright boiler, but soon he started building a horizontal-type boiler; both were horse-drawn. After several years he started making traction engines, which was a big improvement as now farmers could move on their own, pulling their threshers and machinery from farm to farm. The primary use of steam engines was for belt power, but at times they were also used for field and road construction.



From the 1880s through 1940, Kitten built a total of 224 engines. Most of these engines spent their working days within the tri-state area, as moving heavy equipment in those days was not easy. The total weight of the Kitten engine, fully loaded with water, tools and coal, is 17,025 pounds.

The Kitten engine used a 25 HP boiler with a return-flue design. It was a rather unusual engine as the cylinder was mounted on the right and the flywheel/belt pulley was on the left. Kitten designed the short return-flue boiler because he thought it would perform better in the hilly farming area around Ferdinand and southern Indiana.



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