Shipping A Case or A Case of Shipping?

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Newly restored, these three items of equipment were loaded for display and demonstration in the 16th annual reunion and show of the Antique Engines and Threshers Association at the Roy Kite farm near Bird City, Kan. Mr. Kestler shipped the equipment to Tw
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An 85-pound whistle from an old steam locomotive will be mounted on the steam engine Melvin Kestler has brought to Twin Falls. When not playing with the steam engine and threshing equipment, Mr. Kestler builds model trains such as those above, in the stag

1339 Evergreen Drive, Twin Falls, Idaho 83301.

During the first part of October, 1969, my Case steam outfit was
shipped from Bird City, Kansas, to Twin Falls, Idaho, via the
Burlington and Union Pacific railroads. This was quite a memorable
and unusual experience. For the past 17 years, the Case outfit had
been stored at the Leone Kite farm near Bird City, Kansas, and
displayed each year at the Antique Engine & Thresher
Association steam show held on the Kite farm. The members of this
association are the finest men and women I have ever had the
pleasure to know and work with. The outfit consists of a 1915 Case
65 hp. steam traction engine, No. 33090, a 40′ Case separator
and a Case water wagon. Through arrangements made ahead of time
with the carriers, a flat car was spotted at the Bird City loading

My son, Jim, and son-in-law, Wayne Stroup, and I steamed up the
engine and drove it the 4 miles to Bird City pulling the separator
and water wagon. After the outfit was loaded on the flat car, it
was quite a job getting it tied down and ready for shipment which
took several days. The new type CB&Q 60′ flat car had
roller bearings and shock absorber couplers. Flush with the floor
of the car were 4 tracks running lengthwise of the car. On each
track were 15 movable 3/8′ log chains which could be locked in
place anywhere along the track. Each chain was 8′ long with a
shock absorber link and ratchet tightener. Approximately 55 of
these log chains were used to tie the equipment down along with
blocks for each wheel. It would sure have been one big job to have
fastened the equipment down with -out these movable ratchet

There were certainly a lot of uncertainties in shipping the
outfit by rail. The flat car was ordered several weeks ahead of
time from the UPRR in Twin Falls. The outfit was to be loaded in
Bird City after the Antique Engine & Threshers Ass’n. show
was over on Oct. 4, 1969. It was not known what type or kind of car
would eventually be available or when it would be spotted on the
siding in Bird City. The only thing rather sure of was that the car
would be 60′ or longer since that was the minimum length that
could be used. After I had been in Bird City several days, the car
finally arrived. Thankfully, it was the previously described car
and not just a regular old style flat car. It was not known what
the actual cost of shipping the outfit by rail would be until after
the equipment had arrived in Twin Falls. There are a thousand
classifications, each with different freight rates that the
railroads could use in shipping such equipment. Bird City is on the
CB&Q and Twin Falls is on the UPRR which did not help matters
any. The UPRR originally thought they would charge a different rate
per hwd. for each piece of equipment. Therefore, each piece was
weighted separately at a local grain elevator before the outfit was
loaded. This presented a problem, since the engine was weighted
under steam so it could be loaded under its own power and would be
shipped with the boiler drained. The engine weighted 26,980 lbs.
(13 tons) in working order and its shipping weight was 22,560 lbs.
(11 1/3 tons) which was determined by the UPRR after weighting the
loaded car in Denver while it was enroute. The separator weighted
9,540 lbs. (4 tons) and the water tank 1,640 lbs. The outfit was
loaded on the flat ear Oct. 1, 1969, after which I headed for home.
The load left Bird City, Kansas, Oct. 11, 1969, and arrived in Twin
Falls, Idaho, Oct. 15, 1969. The carrier lost the loaded flat car
while it was enroute for one week. Come to find out, it was still
setting on the side track in Bird City. I tried for over two years
without success to get some trucking firm to haul the outfit. The
railroad carriers finally decided to lump the weight of the 3
pieces together and charge one flat rate per hwd. The freight bill
was for 33,740 lbs. at $2.92 for a total of $985.21. It cost
another approximately $400.00 to get the outfit loaded, unloaded
and hauled to its present location 20 miles south of Twin Falls.
The UPRR spotted the car in Twin Falls next to an end ramp. After
the local trucker arrived, it was determined that the end ramp
could not be used. The long extended shock absorber coupler on the
end of the car would not permit it to get close enough to the ramp
for the equipment to be unloaded by pulling it off. The gap between
the end of the car and the ramp was too long to be bridged with the
available material. It was too late to get the flat car moved to a
side ramp.

Therefore, a crane with a 55 ton lifting capacity was used to
take each item of equipment off of the flat car and set it on the
low-boy truck. All three pieces of equipment arrived in perfect
shape and after they were unloaded at the farm there was not even
one scratch or dent anywhere.

Arrival of the steam outfit in Twin Falls drew a lot of
attention. Station KMVT, channel 11, filmed the unloading
operations and presented a television feature newscast about the
outfit Sunday evening, Oct. 19,1969. The Times-News of Twin Falls
had a full page story devoted to’ the old steam rig along with
many good pictures in their Sunday Feature Section of Nov. 2,1969,
as evidenced by the following newspaper article. This is an
excellent article written by Bonnie Baird Jones, Times-News Feature
Editor. She writes with the knowledge of an ardent steam engine
fan. As a result of the newspaper and television stories, I
received many favorable letters, telephone calls and comments. The
one that topped them all was from Mr. Mearl R. Metz of Twin Falls
who used to haul water in Nebraska to this very same engine 35
years ago while it was being used by its former owner, Mr. Al

I am a life insurance salesman for The Prudential Insurance Co.
All of this nice publicity did not hurt my insurance business any
as shown by the article in the Prudential company magazine
‘Western Roundup.’ I carry pictures of the old steam rig in
my brief case which has helped sell a good many policies.

I certainly have enjoyed The Iron-Men Album Magazine
from its inception. The staff members, have done a wonderful job
and your magazine is the backbone of our steam engine hobby.


Every agent has his own way of getting an interview rolling.
Salt Lake City S/A Melvin Kestler (Twin Falls Det.) does it by
bringing up his hobby. Mel restores old steam engines like the 1915
Case steam tractor shown here.

‘I always carry pictures of the old steam outfit in my
briefcase. It’s a great ice-breaker and has helped me close a
good many cases like the recent pair of $50,000 Pro 50’s – each
with annualized premiums of $3,408 to a local businessman and his

‘Last year I even had a color photo of the rig printed on
the Christmas cards I sent to all my clients and prospects. That
got quite a few favorable responses.’

Exposure in the news media has been a great boon, too. Not only
did Mel and his steam engine rate a full-page feature in the
Twin Falls Times-News, they were also the subject of
feature newscasts on two local television channels.

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