My Blossoming Interest in Steam

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2: October 1986. Gene Nettesheim in his steam boat on Juhls' lake, behind our home.
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3:1990. Model Economy hit and miss and pump jack.
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4: July 1995. Model Gaar-Scott engine in my basement workshop.
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6: May 1996. Gene Nettesheim taking a ride on the water wagon pulled by model Gaar-Scott with saw mill in tow.
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5681 Juhls Drive, Boulder, Colorado 80301-3010

I’ve been a subscriber to Iron-Men Album since
1957. So, as you keep asking for articles, I thought I might try
one, although I don’t have any great experiences to relate as
many of your readers have submitted.

My first interest in steam began when I was growing up in the
early Thirties on a diary farm we rented on shares from my
grandparents in the township of Brookfield, Wisconsin.
Grandpa’s home was about three-quarters of a mile north of us
on the same road. My bachelor uncle Adolph who lived with Grandpa
and Grandma had two steam traction engines: a 16 HP Gaar-Scott
single cylinder which was used mostly for silo filling, and a 20 HP
Nichols and Shepard double which was used for powering the big
Russell separator with twin wing feeders. This Russell separator
was stored, when not in use, in a shed on our farm. So, it was a
special day when we heard the whistle of the Nichols and Shepard as
they left Grandpa’s farm to come for the Russell. They would
then take it back to Grandpa’s farm to thresh his grain first,
then my Uncle Johnny’s next, who lived on the farm just north
of ours, then ours last. I always enjoyed the threshing time of
‘thrashing’ as we call it because of the exposure to
machinery, as our farming was mostly horse powered. I especially
enjoyed when the time came that I was big enough to be sent out to
neighboring farms for trade help. I loved ‘pitching
bundles.’

Then in September, we began silo filling with the 16 HP
Gaar-Scott and a Gehl Brothers Manufacturing Company cylinder cut
ensilage cutter. First Grandpa’s, then ours. Uncle Johnny had
his own ‘Blizzard’ ensilage cutter, which he powered with
his 10-20 McCormick Deering tractor. The 16 HP Gaar-Scott was a
very smooth running engine and from early on I thought someday I
would like to build a model of it.

Even though it was hard, sometimes dirty work, my two favorite
times on the farm were thrashing and silo filling.

Uncle Adolph purchased a used Geiser sawmill in the mid
’30s, which he used to build a shed for the Russell separator
and a sawmill shed on Grandpa’s farm. He also, at that time,
did some custom saw milling.

About 1947 Uncle Adolph bought a 22 HP double Keck-Gonnerman No.
1808 from the Norris farm several miles south of us. A few years
later I started helping Adolph with his saw milling on weekends,
gradually doing most of it myself. In 1953 I sawed all the roof
joists, door frames, etc., for my new machine shop, from ash trees
I bought off our farm. We used the Keck with a pulley and rope
arrangement so I could operate the engine from the mill. The Keck
was sure a nice engine on the sawmill.

1: June, 1958. Nettesheim Machine Co., Brookfield, WI. Keck
restored and loaded on low boy for trip to Fond du Lac. Left to
right, Adolph Nettesheim, Fred Reckelberg and Dick Carter.

In 1958 I restored the Keck, and Adolph let me take the engine
to the Wisconsin Steam Antique Engine Club Show at Fond du Lac,
Wisconsin (see photo No. 1). I alone showed the engine there
through 1958, 1959, 1960 and 1961 with the assistance from my good
friend Glenn Harmon of Lannon, Wisconsin.

In 1959, after corresponding with John Ackey of Dresser,
Wisconsin, and Alden Moural of Milton, Iowa, the founders of the
Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association, and after obtaining
permission from Adolph to hold a show on his farm, Glenn and I
organized a show under branch membership of the Early Day Gas
Engine and Tractor Association, later to be known as Branch No. 2.
With approximately 15 charter members, the following officers were
elected: Glenn Harris, president; Gene Nettesheim, vice president;
Harold Ney, treasurer; and Ivan Baxter, secretary. Three shows were
held on Uncle Adolph’s farm in 1959, 1960 and 1961. In
September of 19611 moved to Boulder, Colorado, and the following
year the shows were moved to the village park at Sussex, Wisconsin.
I kept up my membership and attended as many of the shows in later
years as possible.

5: Gene Nettesheim sawing model lumber with his model Gaar-Scott
and model saw mill in his show exhibit trailer he uses for
traveling to engine shows.

There was some steam and old engine interest here in Colorado,
and I tried to be friendly and join in, but was treated as an
outsider, so I finally gave up trying and now just attend shows
around the country.

After I retired in January of 1984, I started building projects
I’d had on my mind. First I purchased castings and plans for a
Stuart No. 1 steam engine. Then I built a vertical boiler and
installed the engine and boiler in our 12 foot row boat. It made a
nice steam boat that we had many hours of fun with on the small
lake behind our house (see photo No. 2). Next, I made a model of an
Economy hit and miss gas engine and water pump (see photo No. 3).
Finally in 1991 I started the model Gaar-Scott that I thought of
for years. All I had to work from was a reprint of a 1909
Gaar-Scott catalog that I purchased years ago from Tom Smith, the
founder of Engineers & Engines Magazine. I formed all
the sheets for the boiler and riveted it together. The boiler has
12 flues and 93 threaded and riveted staybolts. I made all the
patterns and castings, and did all the machining myself. I finished
the engine in 1995 (see photo No. 4), and have the boiler certified
for 100 p.s.i. working pressure by the states of Colorado and
Wisconsin. By May of 1996 I had the water wagon and a model working
saw mill completed (See photos No. 5 & 6). The good Lord
willing, my next project will be a model of that Gehl ensilage
cutter.

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