The J.I. Case Collectors’ Association has almost met its
goal to secure this magnificent 12 HP ciraca-1890 Case return-flue
The January/February 2004 issue of Steam Traction made
passing reference to a circa-1890 Case return-flue engine and a
project to place it on display in a museum in Racine, Wis.
There is, it turns out, much more to the story. The engine, a 12
HP straw-burner, was once owned by Calvin Whitaker of Pendleton,
Ind., who bought the engine in Minnesota where it had been used on
a sawmill. It was displayed in Portland, Ind., in 1992 for the J.I.
Case Collectors convention and to celebrate 150 years of Case.
Shortly thereafter, collector Konnie Kuiper of Highland, Ind.,
purchased it and had it restored to museum-quality condition. A few
years ago, Konnie decided to sell the engine and contacted Jerry
Sanders, treasurer for the Plain City, Ohio-based J.I. Case
Collectors’ Association (JICCA). Konnie knew Jerry was
interested in the engine, and more importantly he knew Jerry wanted
the engine for the new Racine Heritage Museum, currently under
construction and slated to open in 2006. The new museum will house
the collection of Case and IHC antique machinery that was formerly
part of the old Case museum. In addition to donating the equipment
from its old museum, The Case Co. has also donated the old Case
archives to the new museum. These promise to be an invaluable
resource for researchers and restorers alike.
After talking with Konnie, Jerry went to the JICCA board of
directors and secured approval to negotiate with Konnie for
purchase of the Case. The engine wouldn’t come cheap, but given
its rarity – only three are known to exist and its stunning
condition, that came as no surprise. The problem, of course, was
raising the money to finance the $45,000 purchase price.
In the fall of 2002, and with Jerry as project leader, the JICCA
launched a fundraiser to buy the case. The planned purchase hit a
snag when another interested buyer entered the picture, and for a
little while it looked as if the JICCA’s bid to buy the Case
might get scuttled. Enter collector extraordinaire George Schaaf,
well-known for his Schaaf Truck & Tractor Museum in Frankfurt,
Ill. George generously volunteered to purchase the engine, thus
securing it and giving the JICCA time to raise the necessary funds.
The engine is now in George’s possession, housed in his museum
until the new Racine Heritage Museum is completed.
By March 2004, only 17 months after launching the drive, the
JICCA had collected $30,000. In addition to cash donations, one
JICCA member donated a 1952 Case DC (JICCA will hold a raffle for
the DC), and The Case Co. has donated two out-of-print books,
Case – The First 150 Years, and A Case History,
which the JICCA is offering as premiums on donations of $100 or
more. The 12 HP Case will remain the property of JICCA, but will be
on permanent loan to the Racine Heritage Museum.
That an organization should set out on such a goal is admirable
and precedent-setting, and that they’ve come so far in such a
short period of time is impressive. Thanks to their efforts, a rare
piece of Case history is being preserved and will soon be available
to the public.
Case Return-Flue Engines
The Case return-flue engine was first offered in 1884. Earl/
return flues were equipped with side-crank engines, while
center-crank engines were standard from 1888 on.
The first return-flue engines were horse steered – a
self-steering return flue wasn’t offered until 1886.
All return-flue engines burned straw for fuel. The return flues
were 3 inches in diameter.
The 12 HP had a bore and stroke of 7-1/2 inches by 10 inches,
and the 16 HP had a bore and stroke of 8-1/4 inches by 10
The model was discontinued about 1898.
Anyone interested in helping the JICCA reach its goal is
encouraged to contact Jerry Sanders at: 1360 E. Church Road,
Beecher, IL 60401; (708) 946-6801; email@example.com
The non-profit Racine Heritage Museum is run by the Racine
Historical Society. Contact the museum at: 701 S. Main St., Racine,
WI 53403; (262) 636-3926; firstname.lastname@example.org