After restoration - 12 HP Russell steam engine, with author's wife Laurie.
21213 Liberty Street N.E., Aurora, Oregon 97002
Our 12 HP Russell steam tractor #15815 was built June 2, 1915. It weighs eight tons. In the summer of 1915, the engine was shipped out from Massillion, Ohio, to H. Averill in Portland, Oregon, who was, at that time, the Russell dealer in Oregon.
After engine #15815 arrived in Portland, Oregon, it was then put on a flat car headed south to Silverton, Oregon, which is east of Salem. This was to till the order of seven men who lived in the Union Hill-Victor Point area. They called themselves the Victor Point Threshing Company.
The Russell engine was to power a 36 x 48 Aultman Taylor separator. Then later, they used a 32 x 36 Red River Special. The Russell engine pulled the threshing machine from farm to farm harvesting grain for the seven owners.
In 1937, after years of service, it was time for the engine to be replaced by a gas tractor, so into the shed it went! In 1939 it was pulled out of the shed and it replaced a broken down gas tractor for threshing. Afterward it was stored until 1945 when it was sold to John Scheider of St. Paul, Oregon, for only $75.00. He used it for threshing and saw milling since gas rationing was going on because of the war.
In June of 1954, Rod Pitts of Canby, Oregon, bought the Russell engine for $300.00. Rod had steam-ups on his farm from the late 1950's to the early 1960's.
In February of 1977, I bought the engine from Rod. My wife Laurie and I keep the engine at Antique Power-land Museum at Brooks, Oregon.
In the fall of 1988, we decided it was time for a new paint job, so we started to clean the engine and get it ready for repainting. After 75 years of grease and dirt, thanks to my wife Laurie and the dry summer we had, we finally got the engine painted.
Our Russell steam tractor can pull 25 tons, but it's neither fast nor especially economical. It travels 2.33 miles per hour at full throttle, holds 125 gallons of water, and can burn through a cord of wood in about a day!