Rebuilding a 1915 65 HP Case Traction Engine

1 / 4
2 / 4
3 / 4
65 HP Case traction engine.
4 / 4

5534 Fieldstone Lane Madison, Wisconsin 53704

The 65 HP Case traction engine pictured was rebuilt during the
summer and fall of 1993. All the work was done outside.

Although I knew I would be working with steam from the time I
was four years old, I never thought about having a traction engine.
When I was about 10-12, I used to go to the gas and steam shows
with my uncle, who proudly displayed several hit and miss engines.
He found I wasn’t a good helper, because I always ended up in
the steam section of the show watching the traction engines.

After graduating from trade school as a tool and die maker, I
spent my time volunteering on the rebuilding and operation of
several full-size steam locomotives over a fifteen year period.

It wasn’t until I moved to Wisconsin in the winter of 1989
to work with Norman Sandley, that I was re-introduced to traction
engines. Their advantages over railroad locomotives (no track
required) led me to acquire an engine of my own and this

This 65 HP Case, serial number 32348, weighing about 13 tons
with water, was built in 1915 and it was originally sold in the
Oxford, Wisconsin area. (If anyone has information on the early
owners of this engine, please contact me.) The engine was owned by
Harry Schell during the 1940s. At that time, it was used to power a
sawmill in Baraboo, Wisconsin. When Harry Schell moved to Blue
River, Wisconsin, he drove the engine there to use it to power
another sawmill. This was a trip of about 60 miles, done at top
speed of 2 miles per hour.

In 1943 or 1944, Earl Clauer of Mineral Point, Wisconsin,
purchased the engine. In 1967 it was sold to Alvin Heffner of
Boscobel, Wisconsin. In September of 1969, Martin Stluka of
Eastman, Wisconsin, purchased the engine. Martin added hand-made
bunkers, installed rubber on the rear wheels and added a canopy. He
also had a stainless steel piston rod and a stainless steel valve
rod made. Martin used the engine to steam-clean tractors and thresh
on his farm with neighbors. The engine was displayed at the
Boscobel Show for several years.

I purchased the engine from Martin in October 1992. Luckily this
engine had been stored inside most of its life. During the initial
boiler inspection, the boiler was found to be in excellent
condition. It passed a 225 psi hydro test and a visual inspection
showed no defects.

It was stored over the winter, and in May of 1993 I began a full
restoration. The restoration so far has involved over 1000 hours of
work. By June, the engine was fully disassembled. All the machinery
and pipes were removed. The front wheels and axles were removed.
The front pedestal was rebuilt. The boiler and rear wheels were
mounted on cribbing.

The drive gear for the right rear wheel had a 360 degree crack
around the gear. It remained in place because the crack was
irregular. Mr. Tom Taxis (of Ohio) was able to weld the crack by
reaching through the spokes of the wheel. The wheel was rotated so
each section could be welded.

All the machinery and the boiler were sandblasted, washed,
masked, primed and painted.

After sandblasting, I examined each part and made the following

All the bushings and pins were replaced in the valve gear. The
steering gear and worm gear were welded up and recontoured.

The babbitt was repoured on the steering shaft bearing gear.

All spokes on the rear wheels were straightened and

I designed and built a removable ash pan to provide easy access
to the fire box. By loosening four bolts, I can remove the ash pan,
drop the grates and have access to the firebox for boiler
inspection and repair.

The firebox door was rebuilt and hinges machined. The cracks in
the smoke box door were brazed.

The kerosene headlight was repaired. The broken glass in the
sides, the chimney, and the reflector was replaced.

The canopy was completely disassembled. Tongue and groove lumber
was placed on the frame and a tin roof placed on top.

The top of the water bunker was removed and replaced with new
diamond plate steel. The inside of the tank was coated with
fiberglass resin to prevent rust. New oak tool box lids and walk
boards were custom-made and installed.

The drawbar was rebuilt after I obtained the original spring
loaded draw bar from Mr. Stluka.

I rebuilt the rear (axle) springs. The right coil spring needed
a 1′ shim to level the engine. The clutch and all linkages were
rebuilt. The crosshead was leveled and centered. The reverse lever
was rebuilt and all latch pins were replaced. I spent several hours
setting the valve, using dial indicators to get it exact. The steam
dome studs were replaced and the governor was rebuilt.

All the parts and the Case symbol on the firebox door were
hand-painted. Custom-mixed automotive polyurethane paints in
original Case colors were used. The pin-striping and lettering was
done by a professional sign painter.

I was able to obtain decals and some detailing from area
suppliers easily. I found getting a feed water pump and heater very
difficult. These were finally obtained from a portable 65 HP Case
in Wisconsm Dells. The feed water pump was rebuilt and new tubes
were put in the heater.

I was able to give the engine a final test at the 31st annual
Badger Steam and Gas Engine Show in August, 1994 at Baraboo,
Wisconsin. The engine performed well on the Baker fan and had no
problems powering the saw mill. The engine powered the saw mill for
about 10 hours of operation over a two-day period. During this
period over 60 oak logs were cut into rough lumber.

In preparation for the 1995 Badger Steam and Gas Show, I
installed boiler jacketing. I have noticed an increase in the
efficiency of the engine due to the insulation that is under the
jacketing. The boiler stays wanner overnight and even while on the
saw mill, the engine stays on the pop with less effort firing.

I have built a pattern and will be working over the next year to
install a set of rocker grates to ease the handling of the ash and
keep the fire cleaner.

I wish to thank the following people for their support and
friendship: Martin Stluka; William Brew, who provides a storage
place for the engine; Tom Taxis, who assisted with the welding of
the axles drive gear; my brother, Steve Rice, who assisted with the
canopy lining; and my father, Roy Rice, who built the tool box
covers, walk boards, and assisted with the sandblasting.

I am looking for a Case steam gauge for the engine and would
appreciate any contacts that would help obtain one.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment