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Case water wagon with pump loaded on flat car at Bird City, Kansas.
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We don’t have quite as many letters in this issue as
we’ve had in the past few, and we think there’s a good
reason for that: our readers are out exhibiting their wares, and
taking in the engine shows that are going on all over this

And when you come home from a show and get your photos
developed, write us a few lines and send us a show report. Now, to
the letters:

Case steam plowing outfit owned by my father, George Kestler,
breaking sod near Haxtun, Colorado. This picture was copied from a
postcard dated 6/28/15. Dad wrote on the card he had plowed 1,000
acres and had 1,500 more to do. A cook shack accompanied the
outfit. Dad is wearing white hat with dog at his knee. The women
are my mother, her sister and my grandmother. The engine is a 1909
Case 25 HP. Note steering arrangement. Photo courtesy of Melvin

This is a copy of a letter to SHERWOOD W. HUME, 9313 4th Line,
RR #5, Milton, Ontario, Canada L9T 2X9, written by MELVIN KESTLER,
1051 Monte Largo Drive NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87123, dated
April 28, 1997.

I was quite impressed with your article regarding the
‘Restoration Of An Engine’ in the May/June 1997 issue of
the IMA. You wrote an exciting story of how you had a complete new
boiler made and installed on your engine.

So many of us engineers in the hobby have wondered what it would
be like to have a new boiler made for our engines. For many
reasons, I think you made the right decision in having the new
boiler made. The $30,000 investment can be fully recovered should
you wish to sell the engine. A patched up old unsafe boiler is not
good business. As time goes on many other engine owners are going
to have to install new boilers or quit our great hobby. Your
step-by-step, how-to, article is really enlightening and shows the
rest of us engine owners what will be required in the future for
many of us. There is a great satisfaction in owning something
really nice. You also have a moral responsibility to other people
around your engine during shows.

George Kestler, my father, threshing with my uncle George
Land’s 25-85 Nichols & Shepard engine #13866 near Farnam,
Nebraska, on 8/23/31. This engine and separator were shipped new
from the N & S factory in 1929. This engine was used only for
threshing for two years. After Land’s death in 1932, the engine
was sold to Andy Hazen of Farnam for $350. Hazen filled the boiler
with used motor oil and stored the engine for 34 years. Chet
Sawyer, Bird City, Kansas, purchased the engine in 1966 for $1200.
Sawyer sold it in 1970 to N. B. Martinson, Sheffield, Iowa, for
$4250. Martinson now has this like new engine at the Dalton,
Minnesota engine show. Photo courtesy of Melvin Kestler.

Nichols and Shepard steam threshing outfit owned by George
Kestler. Dad is standing on top of the separator. The 25-85 HP
double cylinder engine was rear mounted. Wooden separator was a
44′ cylinder size. This new outfit was shipped from the N &
S Lincoln factory branch in 1918. After the war before I bought my
outfit, I spent many days trying to find this rig but the junk man
beat me to it. On 8/11/21 the Haxtun, Colorado, Harvest newspaper
stated Dad and his large steam outfit moved four times in one day
and set a record by threshing 2,670 bushels of wheat over 44
wagonloads. This engine did considerable plowing. Dad said he made
enough on his first plowing job with this engine to pay for it.
Photo taken near Haxtun in 1919. Courtesy Melvin Kestler.

On the day of purchase from Al Deerk, old time thresherman, for
$250 on 2/26/53. Note 8′ spoked extension rims and cover on
smokestack. The front flue sheet and smokebox bottom were just like
new; the six boiler hand holes were in perfect shape. The grates
and firebox were in good condition. The original contractor’s
bunkers did not lean and are still on the engine. Despite its looks
the engine was in good operating condition and was coated with
layers of grease.

Case outfit arriving in Twin Falls, Idaho, after traveling from
Bird City in 1969. Both photos courtesy of the Twin Falls

Case outfit arriving in Twin Falls, Idaho, after traveling from
Bird City in 1969. Both photos courtesy of the Twin Falls

Kestler’s steam engine outfit at the Antique Engine &
Threshers Show at Bird City, Kansas, where the outfit was shown and
demonstrated for 17 years before moving to Twin Falls, Idaho. The
Case separator is 40′ size

The outfit is now owned by Clarence Young of Great Falls,
Montana. The engine carries 150 lbs. steam and weighs 13.5 tons in
working order. Sign on the top reads ‘Kestler’s Hardware,
Benkelman, Nebr.’

‘The purchase and restoration of my 1915 Case 65 engine in
1953 is small change compared to your expenditures and makes us
realize what this inflation has done to our economy, and also where
the prices of our remaining hobby engines are headed for in the

You mentioned Willis Abel in your story. At a recent Barnes’
engine show in Belgrade, Montana, Willis treated fourteen of us to
a nice steak dinner including Austin and Mildred Monk, Gary Yaeger,
Clarence and Dean Young, etc. Austin pulls twenty 14′ John
Deere plows at Belgrade with his big double cylinder Peerless 120
HP engine. It was a thrill for me to be able to plow with this big
engine. Gary is a Reeves specialist. Clarence now owns my Case 65
outfit. I have not heard any recent news regarding Willis’
project of building a 150 HP Case. I have met some great people in
this steam engine business. ‘Hope you enjoyed my enclosed
pictures with their related stories.’


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