It all started with a loose bushing and play in the front wheel
of my dad’s 1920 double cylinder Nichols and Shepard steam
Having a cousin who was a machinist helped us with the problem
of a bushing. He quickly produced one of the right size for us. We
jacked up the left front side of the engine and proceeded to
install the bushing. Finishing up we drove the 6-inch cotter pin
back into the axle to hold the wheel on. Since it was from the top
down, we thought no more about it.
Having finished the job I left for home, in Pineville, Missouri,
planning to return in time for the Mid-America Threshing and
Antique Inc., show at Tipton, Indiana, the following week.
I was dumbfounded when I got a phone call telling of the near
disaster to old ‘Huldy’, as we affectionately called
It seems that a cotter pin must be spread, which we failed to
do, to prevent it from slipping out.
The end result was that while running the engine around the old
gravel pit at my cousin, Jack Pearcy’s farm in Miami, Indiana,
the pin came out, the wheel came off, and the front end of old
‘Huldy’ snapped off. Ten- year-old cousin Gary Glassburn,
who was steering at the time, along with three other cousins,
jumped and ran with steam escaping from several pipes.
My father, Howard Pearcy, ‘Casey’ as he was known back
in his threshing days, kept his cool and stayed with the engine and
dragged out the fire. Total damage was a pair of lead safety plugs,
a broken pipe or two and the front undercarriage.
It was quite a sight to see the two huge wreckers which lifted
up the front of the engine so that the welder could weld it back
By the way, old ‘Huldy’ made the show at Tipton the