Ole Puff

In 1928 Geiser made its Last Engine a Decade Went by Before it Found its First Owner

| November/December 2003

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    Ole Puff on her arrival at the Antique Power land show grounds in Brooks, Ore., May 1998.
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    Phil Lanzarotta Jr. steers Ole Puff while Phil Sr. tends to engineering duties at the Great Oregon Steam-Up in Brooks, Ore., July 2000.
  • # Picture 03
    Ole Puff taking a break at the Great Oregon Steam-Up, Brooks, Ore., July 2001.

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In 1928 the last of a long line of steam engines rolled out of the shops of Geiser Manufacturing Co., Waynesboro, Pa. Geiser engine no. 18298 was effectively obsolete from the moment the first rivet was driven into its boiler, and in fact it was never completed, relegated to the grounds of the Geiser factory where it sat until about 1940.


'Ole Puff,' as this engine came to be known, has a well documented past. Its first owner was Samuel Stoltzfus, an Amish gentleman who is said to have purchased her around 1939 from the Geiser Manufacturing Co. Samuel, who lived in White Horse, Pa., worked for a man who rebuilt boilers, engines and traction engine running gear out of a shop in Kinzer, Pa. Samuel's boss also sold new Geiser equipment, and following a fire at the Geiser works Samuel's boss took him to the Geiser plant to see if they could salvage an engine.

According to Charles Doty, Mt. Union, Iowa, no. 18298's third owner, there were still five engines at the plant at the time of the fire. Samuel purchased Geiser no. 18298, and the Geiser factory got some of the old carpenter shop crew to build a canopy for the engine before loading it up on a flatcar for delivery to Kinzer. The engine was delivered without its pre-heater, which at some point had been removed and sold.

At some juncture (just when is unknown) Samual named the engine 'Ole Puff,' and the name has stuck with the engine ever since. Samuel kept the engine until his death in 1970, at which time his widow advertised it for sale. In 1972 the engine was auctioned off and was purchased by Melvin 'Brownie' Grubb, Steelton Pa. Melvin and his family then launched into a restoration of the engine. Work performed by the Grubbs included:

1978 Two new flues 1979 Six new grates 1980 New cab 1984 Six new handhold plates 1986 One new pop valve; one new piston (8-3/4-inch by 2-1/2-inch); one set of rings; new stainless steel connector rod; two new water tanks; new deck; six new handhold plates

In 1987 Connecticut residents Charles and Frances Doty became the third owners of Ole Puff when they purchased her from the Grubbs. She stayed with the Grubbs until 1988, when Charles and Frances trans ported her to Connecticut. The Dotys subsequently moved to Mt. Union, Iowa, where they placed Ole Puff in a nice, climate-controlled garage. A combination of health problems and too many toys prompted the Dotys to place an ad in the July/August 1997 issue of Iron-Men Album announcing Ole Puff's availability. Aside from normal maintenance, the only restoration work Ole Puff saw under the Dotys' care was application of new paint.


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