My Iron-Man Friend

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Two VIP' sour fine editor and engineer, Elmer Rilzman, running the engine and Bill Berkheimer, another expert engineer and restorer of all types of machinery. This was a great day running The Little Jewel followed by a picnic and get-together with many of
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Here is William Berkheimer's rebuilt Ford truck, ready to start back from Mora, Minnesota with Bill's 6 HP Case portable, March 21, 1968. Courtesy of William Strayer, R. D. 1, Dillsburg, Pennsylvania 17019
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Here is Elmer in the Korn Krib at Easter Time in 1968. Picture was taken by Raymond H. Knierman. Courtesy of Raymond H. Knierman, 435 West Erie Street, Linesville-, Pa. 16424
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William Strayer on Ed Yeager's farm near Wellsville. (I'm not sure who sent this photo in but I think it was Mr. Strayer. Anyhow, it is a perfect picture in my estimation for a harvest issue - too tall for the cover though. I think it is a great shot thou

R. D. 1, Dillsburg, Penna.

First, a few lines to introduce Mr. William Berkheimer, who is
the Iron-Man in this story.

Mr. Berkheimer was born on one of the cleanest and well kept
farms in the Cumberland Valley north of the Williams Grove Park,
then after the passing of his parents, he took over, but now his
son and grandson have taken over the farm operation.

The Berkheimers were one of the first to use gas tractors and
always were Case men, often rebuilding what most men considered
junk, into a like new machine and would use it for many years
serving as a new machine.

As long as the writer has known of the Berkheimer farm, one of
the most used buildings contained a modern shop, well equipped with
most all the tools required for machinery maintenance and

At one of the early Rough & Tumble Steam Shows held at the
Arthur S. Young show grounds in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the
steam bug laid a nit somewhere around Mr. Berkheimer’s head and
from it developed a new Case steam bug.

Before long some green backs were exchanged with Mr. Young for
what appeared to be a pile of Case scrap. Within one year this
scrap heap appeared at the Rough and Tumble Steam Show, completely
rebuilt and equipped with new contractors, tank and coal

When the engine arrived at the show grounds with its new paint
and lettering it was quite a sight to behold. However, it rained
several days in the show week and due to a death in the Berkheimer
family, Bill could not attend but told Mr. Young to assign some
good engineer to his engine and run it during the show.

Well, to make a long story short, it was quite a different sight
covered with mud and grease when it arrived home several months

Now, this called for some improvement, so a new building was
erected adjoining the shop to house the engine after a complete
washing and cleaning.

It was now decided to keep fire in the boiler the entire winter,
thereby helping heat the adjoining shop.

When talk of a steam show being held at the local Park began
circulating, Mr. Berkheimer was delighted and became a charter
member and always contributes a great deal of time and effort
during the show.

For many years his display was a complete Case outfit looking
like new and operating slowly during the most of the day under the
watchful eye of a past employee of the Huber Company, namely Mr.
Lloyd Stare, who was a neighbor of Mr. Berkheimer during his
farming years.

Another of Mr. Berkheimer’s self-imposed duties is the
sprinkling of the show grounds during the entire week at the
Williams Grove Show, often beginning at two o’clock in the
morning and continuing until noon. He used his rebuilt Ford truck
and his home built sprinkler, carrying a 1000 gallon tank. During
the 1969 show, he kept records which totaled 100 tanks of water
used on the grounds.

At the local show his engine drew many favorable comments and
offers, one of which was just too much temptation for Bill you
guessed it he sold to another local member of the club.

After sometime the empty engine house seemed to echo the word
‘Traitor’ every time Bill looked in, so again there was a
new customer for a Case engine. Sometime later one was found and
replaced the last friend. This one too was restored with
contractors, bunkers and tanks, even better than the former

About this time the bug had bitten Mr. Willis Fisher of
Dillsburg and being a good friend of Mr. Berkheimer, when he
learned of a good 65 HP Case in Iowa he contacted Mr. Berkheimer
who agreed to accompany him to look it over. The end result was
that Mr. Fisher bought it and had it shipped to Dillsburg by rail.
When it arrived to be unloaded, many local men including yours
truly gathered at the station for the event.

The last engine, prior to this one, to be shipped to Dillsburg
was in 1931 when a D. C. Frick was shipped to yours truly by the
Arthur S. Young Company. How things have changed! This was the low
water mark in steam engines as this one cost me $125.00 plus $78.00
freight charges and was in transit fourteen days.

We used this engine about six years for road grading and sawmill
work and then had a fire one night which burned off the canopy and
the babbit from the left main bearing and the eccentric. It was
then given to a retired machinist to repair with the agreement that
we would have the use of it to saw one winter after it was
repaired, then it was his engine. It was used several years as his
plaything, then sold as scrap when he passed away.

The following spring Mr. Fisher’s 65 Case was moved to the
Berkheimer shop and repaired where needed, plus a new set of
contractors, bunkers and tanks. By this time these Case bunkers
were the talk of the steam engine men for miles around and many
came to see them and to ask advice in building new ones on their

Mr. Fisher had never cut corners in restoring or in the upkeep
of his engine and I believe he has the most beautiful and well
maintained engine to be found anywhere.

These two Case engines often stood side by side at the Williams
Grove Show attracting photographers and many would-be buyers.

After several years of turning down offers, Mr. Berkheimer (in
one of his weaker moments) fell for an offer when the new buyer
promised he would return the engine for the local show each year.
Now again the empty shed caused all the Case homesickness to

About this time Mr. Berkheimer confided to yours truly that he
could make quite a lot of improvements using modern anti-friction
bearings and rubber tires, as well as other changes on a Case
engine. Now coming from Bill this was believable after seeing and
listening to the improvements he made on a 1935 Caterpillar
Tractor, as well as a three wheeled rubber tired lawn mower, with
water-cooled 4 cylinder engine, three speeds on travel and three
speeds on the reel blades that will turn completely in its own
length and has electric starter with lights which he built and

With these improvements in mind it was not long until Bill began
looking and running down leads to any and all 6 HP Case portables.
This, he figured would be the equal to a size 30 Case traction and
would furnish the basic parts needed to build a traction engine
that could be hauled on an ordinary farm truck to distant shows or
road travel to local shows and parades. It was not too long until
he had leads on two such 6 HP portables, one in Harrisonburg,
Virginia and the other in Mora, Minnesota.

Now this seemed too good to be true, as very few such engines
were manufactured because these small steamers were the first to be
replaced by the gas engines. It soon developed that these two leads
were for the same engine which was then in Mora, Minnesota and was
for sale.

After corresponding by mail and phone as to condition and price,
it was decided to go to Minnesota in Mr. Berkheimer’s rebuilt
truck for the 6 HP portable. After the little portable was in Mr.
Berkheimer’s shop and examined very carefully, it was found
that quite a lot of work would be needed to have the boiler meet
the Pennsylvania requirements and be perfectly safe at working

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry was contacted
and arrangements were made to have an inspector go over the boiler
and recommend just what was needed before any more work or expense
would be added to what Mr. Berkheimer began to think was a bad

For safety, the inspector recommended having the boiler
completely rebuilt by a boiler factory, with new fire-box, tubes
and front tube sheet or head. The length of the smoke box or barrel
was extended to give it a more authentic Case traction look as well
as improve performance tested to 250.

In November of 1968 when the boiler came back from the factory,
yours truly visited the shop and saw a beautiful job of boiler
rebuilding. Bill told me the first cost was now almost doubled, but
he had a Case boiler which could not be duplicated by modern
methods of manufacture although the repairs cost about the price of
a new boiler.

By this time, Mr. Berkheimer had collected most of his
components by purchasing a Case Model L gas tractor and a fairly
good 22′-36′ Case Thresher. These two machines were
dismantled for the parts that were to be used in his Case Tractor
which would make it completely Case. The boiler was factory tested
hydrostatically to 250 pounds and guaranteed.

In early June of 1969, Boiler Inspector Nathian Leasure of York,
Pennsylvania performed final inspection on boiler and praised the
workmanship and stamped the boiler 125 pounds stating the boiler
was now probably stronger than when new in 1907.

This model Case Tractor had a roller chain final drive which was
the reason for his choice which would furnish the quiet drive of
his engine. Other parts from the tractor such as the differential,
sprockets, steering wheel and all road wheels with their tapered
roller bearings were used. The differential contains the only gears
used in the engine and these are in very limited use, while turning

Parts from the thresher included the cylinder bearings, which
were used on the counter-shaft, the fan bearings used on the
steering chain shaft, sheet metal used in the chain shields, the
inspection hole covers and the front axle with the center mounting
as well as numerous small bearings and steel parts.

Some parts such as the stack base and wheel spacers which could
not be bought, required wood patterns to have them cast at the
foundry. These were hand carved in what Br. Berkheimer called his
SPARE time.

Many parts such as the reverse mechanism, the clutch parts, the
large sprockets, etc. were cut from plate steel, then machined in
his shop with the exception of the large flywheel and the large
sprockets. New grates were cast using a pattern from our Frick
pattern storage which is the only parts that can be said to be
anything but Case.

Four new pneumatic tires and tubes were bought and placed on the
wheels and when yours truly visited the shop in the spring of 1969,
the engine looked somewhat like a small Case would look, but still
a long way from finished.

Work was discontinued during the farming season, but just as
soon as the corn harvest was over Mr. Stare and Mr. Berkheimer
could always be found in the shop working. It was now time for the
water tank and coal bunkers. The tank was fit to the frame, then
welded into one piece and mounted on cushioned hangers like large
truck tanks. The material was 10 gauge steel and will probably last
a lifetime.

The bunkers were built without welding of any kind, using over
350 rivets just as were used by Case many years ago. This meant
over 700 holes to drill by hand, as well as first making a pattern
to hand bend the corners without hammering or marks of any kind.
This work alone required many weeks of hard work and patience by
both Mr. Stair and Bill, but you have to see the engine to believe
it can be done.

A rebuilt Pickering governor was fitted in place of the original
and then work on the reverse came next. After studying some old
Case books and carefully measuring several local Case engines,
drawings were completed and then the actual work was done.

A very heavy pulley or flywheel was purchased, then reworked to
Mr. Berkheimer’s specifications (8′ face, 31′ diameter)
and then the clutch and chain sprocket were fitted before balanced.
While this pulley is much smaller in diameter, it is almost twice
the weight of the original and gives the little engine a nice even
motion at low r.p.m.

Mr. Berkheimer is very particular in having all moving parts
balanced. While on a shop visit last winter, he demonstrated his
work on a finished rear wheel by placing a jack under the axle,
lifting one wheel slightly, then spinning the 400 pound wheel with
two fingers.

No decals could be found for the bunkers to be the correct size
so these were finally made to Bill’s ‘specks’ by a

In mid-May 1970 Mr. Abe Johnson of Marion, New York paid the
Berkheimer’s a visit and after some consultation, a steam-up
and a trial run was arranged with the following men present: Mr.
Johnson, Mr. Stare, Dale Evans of Philadelphia, Willis Brandt, the
three generations of Berkheimer men and yours truly. The results
were amazing and beyond expectations with no noise whatever, even
on a gravel roadway.

Mr. Johnson immediately called it ‘The Little Jewel’
which seemed very appropriate and is now the official name for the

It was noted that heat from the boiler resulted in warm tires,
so heat shields were made and installed as well as some minor
adjustments were made on levers and etc.

Mr. Berkheimer mentioned pictures at the next trial and yours
truly thought it would be nice to have our ailing editor and wife
at the next steam-up with the idea that it may be a good spring
tonic for Rev. Ritzman. Mr. Berkheimer told me to make the
arrangements to have the Ritzmans over at their convenience. After
school was closed for the summer, plans were made for a small lawn
party serving homemade strawberry ice-cream and cake (the
preacher’s favorite).

So on June 19, 1970 The Little Jewel was fired up under Mr.
Stare’s loving care and on a beautiful spring day the following
people were present: Mr. and Mrs. Berkheimer, our hosts; Mr. Lloyd
Stare, chief engineer; Mr. Hunter, official photographer; Mr. and
Mrs. Ritzman, Bob Berkheimer, a son; Foster Berkheimer, another son
and Mike Berkheimer, a grandson, and Mr. and Mrs. Bill Strayer.

After many pictures were taken by Mr. Hunter, as well as by
amateurs, one of which was for the Pennsylvania Highway Department
which is required for a homemade engine to secure a license plate,
the engine was driven back to its shed and the party broke up.

The Strayers delivered the Ritzmans to their home in Enola and
thus ended a perfect day.

The specifications of The Little Jewel are as follows: Length,
13 ft. 6 in.; width, 76 inches; height, 7 ft. 6 in; weight, ready
to operate at 8500 lbs.; tire sizes, 14.9′ X 24′ rear and
5.50′ X 16′ front. Coal bunker capacity, 600 lb.; water
tank capacity 500 gallon.

On July 4th and 5th, Mr. Johnson with his wife and father were
again visitors of the Berkheimer’s for the steam-up at the
Williams Grove show grounds where Abe was chief operator, but with
Mr. Stare and the Berkheimer men always nearby. Here the engine was
tried out for belt work and road tests as it was driven to the
grounds and home. Many steam fans with cameras were in

Anyone inspecting this engine will at once see that it is a work
of love and please do not try to buy it as Mr. Berkheimer confided
to yours truly that this is the last and it will be passed on to
the grandson.

This little engine is a sample of what could have been, had
steam not been replaced by the gas engine, as all the components
used were available over 25 years ago.

Don’t ask what this Little Jewel cost, because it is my
opinion Bill does not know but I am sure he adjusted his sights
many times and like all prices today always UP!

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