One Man's Passion

| September/October 1992

  • Steam engine

  • Steam engine

17409 Prospect Belton, Missouri 64012

Bill Fisher's interest in steam engines began in the Seventies, when he gained a working knowledge of mechanics while he was employed as a welder. The smooth working of the gears of a steam engine and the quietness of the engine's operation fascinated Bill. It did not take long for him to realize that he needed to have an engine of his own. He had attended many shows and gazed with envy and appreciation at the engines he saw, and then he planned his very own venture.

He began serious groundwork toward building a steam engine from 1976 to 1978. To obtain the information to complete this task, he had to delve into any source he could findfrom attending the various steam engine shows in the midwest area, which were mainly in Missouri and Iowa, to using his experience in mechanics and welding. Finally, in 1980, Bill completed a 1/3 scale model of a 1919 sixty horsepower Case engine.

In building the engine, Bill used a lot of ingenuity in acquiring many of the parts. The rear wheels of his Case are originally from an antique four horsepower cultivator, whereas the front wheels are just bullrake wheels. The bevel gears on the governor are from a riding lawn mower, and the clutch was actually made out of Ford brake shoes. Bill obtained the flywheel from a cut down Minneapolis Moline gas tractor, and last but not least, the counterbalance wheel for the steam engine came from a John Deere mowing machine.

With his baby Case steam engine to proudly introduce, he attended shows at Paris, Missouri and Adrian, Missouri, as well as Platte City. His greatest success was being invited to show his Case Model at Silver Dollar City during the National Craft Festival in September 1990. He took his steam engine out of storage and brought it to the Festival in 1990. In 1991 he was invited back again, and Bill has just received confirmation for the 1992 Festival. The Craft Festival pulls in large crowds, and along with men of all ages, a surprising amount of women were also interested in the steam model. It is most pleasing to see the interest spurred by seeing the model running. The fact that it really does function gives the most interest to viewers at the park.

Still in keeping with his love of the moving parts of an engine, Bill also built a baler in 1991 just from looking at a picture of one; he displayed the little baler at Adrian. Yet, the steam engine is still his favorite. Bill Fisher is now the proud owner of two engines, one he built and another that he purchased that still needs to be refurbished. It has taken many years for him to finally achieve his dream of owning a steam engine.


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