Farm Collector

SOOT IN THE FLUES

As we get this issue ready for the printer, we notice that we
don’t have quite as many letters in this column this month.
Well, that’s understandable, since this is, after all, the time
of year when all of you are out attending shows and trucking your
exhibits down the highways. Remember when you attend shows,
especially new ones, to write us a letter about them, or better
yet, a full show report! None of us can attend them all, so we rely
on readers in different regions to keep us posted on what’s
going on in their environs.

And remember that we want to hear from you young people, too! We
know that lots of teenagers and young adults attend these shows
both with their families and on their own, and we are surely
interested in what they have to say as well. This is a great place
to get help if you’re a new collector, or just a would-be
collector who needs information. Now, on to this month’s
letters:

This letter comes from KEVIN SMALL, 1279 Perry Highway, Box 92,
Portersville, Pennsylvania 16051, who writes, ‘In the
July/August issue of the IMA, Mr. Larry Creed responded to
an article titled ‘Something Different’ submitted by Edwin
Bredemeier of Steinhauer, Nebraska. Mr. Bredemeier’s article is
in the March-April IMA. Mr. Creed says that he would like
to set the writer ‘straight’ about the content of his
article. Because it did not pertain directly to steam, Mr. Creed
seemed to be upset. I personally enjoy all articles submitted to
the IMA even if it is not 100% steam. I am sure that Mr.
Bredemeier (who is 88 years old) has more experience with steam
engines, threshers and old machinery than Mr. Creed and myself
combined! I personally do not know Mr. Bredemeier, but I do know
that he has submitted lots of pictures and stories of steam engines
and other machinery to the IMA for years. Many issues of
the IMA from the 1950s to the present have had many
stories of machinery not directly related to steam. 1 certainly
enjoy articles from the old steam engine men the most. I hope Mr.
Bredemeier will write more about his experiences with steam engines
and other machinery as well. He is certainly entitled to do so in
the IMA.

‘I would like to contribute these pictures of ‘steam
engine legends.’ I believe that between these five legends
combined, they have saved nearly 150 steam engines and hundreds of
other pieces of machinery such as tractors, threshers, sawmills,
etc. They are heroes to me, and they are the reason many steam
engines survive today for all to enjoy.

‘Picture number one is of Emil J. Kudlacek of Seward,
Nebraska, standing beside his 65 HP Case. Emil has owned 16 engines
at one time many years ago, and has bought and traded many steamers
throughout his lifetime. I believe he is 92 years old now. He also
owned two 110 HP Case steamers and could have owned 12 different
110 Case engines as well. I met Emil at Rollag, Minnesota. He loves
to talk about steam engines.

‘Picture number two is of the late Chris Busch of Colton,
Washington. He is standing next to the front wheel of his 1910 20
HP Avery pulling a Case thresher and straw carrier. Chris had a
collection of 50 steam engines. He passed away in the early 1950s,
but his name still brings back memories to many of the steam engine
men in the Pacific northwest. This 20 HP Avery is still shown
today. It is now owned by Willis Abel of Finleyville,
Pennsylvania.

‘Picture number three is of the late Walter Mehmke of Great
Falls, Montana. He is standing beside his 1907 32 HP Case that he
made his living with. It also paid for their farm. Walter saved 20
to 25 steam engines and lots of steel wheeled tractors and
machinery of all kinds. I met Walter’s son, Carl, in 1994 and
had the honor to be the engineer on the 1907 32 Case one summer day
in August. The Mehmkes were so kind and generous to me that day.
Walter’s collection is now shared through Carl. The old 32 Case
is Carl’s favorite engine, and it was Walter’s favorite as
well.

‘Picture number four is of the late Harry Wood man see of
Dowling, Michigan. If you look closely, you can see Harry standing
in front of the drive wheel with his hands on the catwalk. No doubt
Harry was listening to the 1907 45 HP Minneapolis pulling the 42 x
70 Avery threshing machine. I took this picture at Rollag,
Minnesota in 1990. I wonder what he was thinking about the Minnie
when 1 took the picture? I did not know Harry Wood man see very
well, but I will say it was interesting to listen to him talk about
steam engines and anything associated with them.

‘Picture number five is of Norman Pross and Jim Briden on
the 40-70 Gaar-Scott gas tractor at Rollag in 1990. A young friend
is steering the big tractor. The Pross name has been associated
with steam engines and big gas tractors since the early shows began
in Minnesota and North Dakota. He has saved many large and rare
steam engines and many one of a kind gas tractors as well.

There are so many other ‘legends’ that I could write
about. I hope that the IMA readers who knew the legends
and others as well will write about them in IMA. Thank you
for a great magazine!’

GARY YAEGER writes, ‘It has been many months since I have
contributed anything to IMA. I haven’t fallen off of
the face of the earth. I have been gathering, writing and editing
the material for a book about steam engines. One of you remarked
about one of my last IMA letters ‘not overly
scholarly,’ which is how I have written the book I am
attempting to get out as a ‘boot strap operation.’ I knew
before I ever started that / am not a writer, but I do have some
history and stories to preserve, as well as photographs to
share.

A 32 HP Reeves Canadian Special cross compound engine owned by
Charles C Colwell, seeding near Ross Fork of Montana’s Judith
Basin. He was the grandfather of Rosie Yaeger. Photos this page
from Gary Yaeger.

An early 25 HP Reeves Canadian Special cross compound pulling a
combined harvester in the Judith Basin. I believe it was owned by
Frank Strouf.

A 32 HP U.S. Reeves cross compound pulling a (I think the same
one?) Holt combined harvester. I know for a fact Frank Strouf owned
an engine like this one (as well as two 40 HP Reeves engines.)

‘My book started out about only the Forty Reeves. I had to
tie my Reeves heritage with Dad’s 32 HP c.c and 20 HP
Highwheeler. Of course, the first steam traction engine I ever ran
was a Nichols & Shepard. So at this point, I am covering nearly
all American and Canadian engines to some extent. My
grandfather’s 1881 Judith Basin (Montana) homestead was broken
in 1907 with a 30-60 Hart-Parr ‘Old Reliable’ and an eight
bottom plow, so I have included an area of the book for the
‘internal combustion’ engine. It is written from my western
plains perspective. My main focus is on the Reeves brand, however,
Case and all of the other competitors have their space. I have
located so many interesting pieces of equipment operated by steam
that I have an area for ‘other uses of steam.’ I may have
gotten ‘off on a limb,’ but I don’t ever intend to
write another book, so it had to be in this one. (Actually, had I
known how much time it involved, I would have never begun.) I had
hoped to have the book out by Christmas. For reasons of sanity (I
have been at this project steady for over two and a half years), I
decided to take the summer off. I know this delays the book as a
Christmas present, but I haven’t watched a Super Bowl, a local
high school basketball game, or gone camping, fishing or hunting
since I started the project. A newspaper editor and steam friend,
helping me, about lost it when I told him I had nearly two thousand
photographs (plus many unique factory literature pages). I really
get excited with photographs of steam engines in their original
element!

‘Several dozen of my friends (and your subscribers) have
helped me and I would like to thank each and every one of them.
Some of them have contributed dozens of pictures. Others just one
or two. Hopefully, I won’t disappoint my friends?

‘I did take time to install a new piston rod and valve rod
in our 15 HP Case this spring. I also rebuilt my Marsh steam pump,
and installed new valves with schedule 80 pipe throughout, plus
I’m getting it ready for paint. John Schrock and Austin Monk
were here one evening, about a month and a half ago. I told John I
had ‘re-plumbed’ the engine and got his stock answer, which
some of you have gotten from him, You plumb a ‘restroom’
(not an exact quote) and ‘pipe ‘ a steam engine!’ John
keeps me on my toes.

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  • Published on Sep 1, 1998
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