My Hobbies Especially Steam

By Sig Bakke and Adams
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Sig Bakke
My latest edition of a steam engine. It is a 1/2 scale model of a 65 Case. I spent over two and a half years of spare time in its making. Courtesy of Sig Bakke, Adams, North Dakota 85210

North Dakota 58210

My interest in steam engines dates back to early childhood. My
first attempt at one was when I was about 14 years old and
that’s over 50 years ago now. This was quite a crude affair but
at the time, it fascinated me immensely. It was a stationary
engine. I started by building it on a board 2′ x 12′ x
18′ long. Being very simple it consisted of a fly-wheel,
crankshaft, eccentric, cylinder, and a couple of petcocks. A three
foot long copper pipe connected the cylinder to a one gallon oil
can placed in the forge. My first few attempts at getting it going
were futile – the fly wheel being too small, it wouldn’t carry
over, as steam was fed to the front end of the cylinder only. By
replacing the flywheel with a bigger one, I thought it would carry
over, which it did and my hopes were renewed. I pumped the forge
bellows to get more steam. It made a few puffs under its own power
and I was up on cloud nine for a few seconds and then with a big
bang everything became dark in the shop with coal dust and rubble.
After the dust settled, I found out that my oil can boiler had gone
dry so it had exploded and all that was left was the iron in the
fireplace of the forge. Fortunately, I was not hurt. I found the
remains of my engine in the far corner of the shop. Seeing the dust
emerging from the shop, my mother came to investigate as to what
was going on. When I told her what had happened she said in no
uncertain terms, ‘This is enough to this. Its time for you to
get out in the field.’ This was the end of my first steam
engine.

Money at that time was not plentiful at our place. We were a
family often so we all had to pitch in to make ends meet. Our Dad
passed away when the oldest one was 15 and the youngest about five.
Grain prices in the thirties besides drought didn’t make
farming very profitable.

I have had other hobbies over the years, the first being Ham
Radio. My call is WLWX. I got my first license in 1938 and have had
lots of enjoyable hours talking to people all over the U.S.A. and
other countries. Amateur photography is another hobby. We have over
a mile of 16mm movie film and a number of 35 mm slides taken on our
travels. Later, our interest turned to antiques. We have collected
antiques of all descriptions – hanging lamps, carnival and custard
glass plus most anything that our forefathers used in their homes.
We have an old country schoolhouse moved in to house these old time
treasures. We’ve had visitors to see these from all over
including Norway and Canada.

Steam engines always had a spot in my heart. In threshing time I
would rather be close to the engine than haul bundles or grain. My
interest was rekindled when my wife, Lillian, gave me the book,
‘Days of Steam and Glory’ by Dona Close Jennings.

On our way home from Los Angeles one winter we stopped at Murdo,
S. Dakota and we went through the Museum there. Among other
interesting things we saw was a 1/4 scale Case Steam Engine made by
Olaf Bakke of New England, North Dakota. This made us decide to go
by New England as I wanted to talk to him in person. They were very
hospitable people and insisted that we stay with them overnight
which we did. We discussed steam engines, etc. and had a very
enjoyable visit.

I had intended to make a small engine but my final decision was
a 1/2 scale model of a 65 Case. I began picking up parts all over
for a start on my new project. Through a friend, Roy Grimes of
Fairmount, North Dakota, I got acquainted with Laurence Dahlman of
Roshalt, South Dakota, where I got the main castings and lots of
advice and help. Norman Nelson of Rollag, Minnesota was one who
really encouraged me when my morale was at a low ebb. My turning
lathe wasn’t big enough and experience was lacking and this is
where Norman’s skill and help was greatly appreciated. Another
friend, Pete Striemer of Winkler, Manitoba, Canada has also been a
help to me in locating needed parts.

Well now after 2 years of work it is in running order and I have
enjoyed it very much and so have my neighbors and friends. I built
a sturdy trailer for hauling the engine around. Last fall,
September of 1972, I took my engine to the Central North Dakota
Steam Threshers, Inc. Threshing bee at New Rockford, North Dakota
and there with Norman Nelson’s Separator we threshed for about
3 hours which has been one of the highlights with my steam
engine.

I don’t have a separator of my own so that will have to be
one of my next projects. If I’m going to thresh I’ll have
to have bundles which means a binder and of course a bundle rack
and grain wagon and come to think of it I should have a 1/2 scale
cook car too – I have a couple of 1/2 scale cooks my
granddaughters, Terri and Laurel!! That’s all for now!

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