Collector’s Steam Engine and Equipment Collection Began With 1892 Aultman Star Engine

Collector amasses varied steam equipment collection on 41 acres

| Winter 2008

  • 4117
    1892 Aultman Star
    Don Voelker
  • 4124
    A Minneapolis steam traction engine
    Don Voelker
  • 411
    1919 3 HP International igniter engine
    Don Voelker
  • 412
    1912 Titan 12 HP gasoline tractor
    Don Voelker
  • 413
    1914 65 HP Case portable engine, no. 31290
    Don Voelker
  • 414
    1906 17 HP Huber vertical/horizontal twin
    Don Voelker
  • 416
    18 foot flywheel and crank for a 1910 Ball engine
    Don Voelker
  • 415
    A circa 1895 re-saw to make beveled siding
    Don Voelker
  • 417
    De LaVergne 6-cylinder, 750 HP, still on the transporter
    Don Voelker
  • 419
    Caterpillar 60
    Don Voelker
  • 418
    1898 16 HP Advance, no. 5413
    Don Voelker
  • 4113
    Russell 20 HP engine
    Don Voelker
  • 4112
    1917 25 HP Advance-Rumely Universal engine
    Don Voelker
  • 4110
    1918 19 HP Port Huron engine, no 8113
    Don Voelker
  • 4116
    1918 Nichols & Shepard 20-75 traction engine, no. 25423
    Don Voelker
  • 4115
    Circa Civil War wood lathe
    Don Voelker
  • 4114
    International Harvester 15-30 4-cylinder opposed
    Don Voelker
  • 4120
    1901 16 HP Advance engine, no. 5355
    Don Voelker
  • 4118
    1921 20 HP minneapolis Engine, no. 8425
    Don Voelker
  • 4119
    7 HP Stickney engine
    Don Voelker
  • 4121
    1883 8 or 10 HP Case Portable engine
    Don Voelker
  • 4123
    Frick steam traction engine, no. 12534
    Don Voelker
  • 4122
    81-ton De LaVergne 8-cylinder, 1000 HP engine
    Don Voelker
  • 4125
    1895 16 HP Gaar-Scott engine, no. 8717
    Don Voelker

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  • 4124
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  • 417
  • 419
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  • 4113
  • 4112
  • 4110
  • 4116
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Somewhere in the Midwest lives a man – let’s call him “Jake” – who has collected with an unflappable passion all his life. Scattered over the 41 acres that make up his “yard,” sometimes in rows and sometimes haphazardly, there are steam engines, tractors, fixed engines, farm equipment, large cranes, ditch diggers, and almost anything else that could be imagined, all sitting silently, waiting. “I will not let them go to the scrap yard,” Jake says.

This man, single handedly in many cases, has moved pieces of equipment each weighing many tons to his property. Once, Jake even built a special transporter to move a large engine weighing over 80 tons. Imagine the dedication and work it took for him to accumulate this amount of history in one place. He has passionately and quietly given much of his life to gathering these remnants of the past.

Sheep graze among the historic steam engines to keep the weeds down, a llama walks among the sheep to keep the wild dogs and coyotes away, and so it has gone on this way for many years. “I bailed hay last Sunday and put it up to feed my sheep next winter, I ran out of hay this spring and had to buy some,” said Jake. “I wouldn’t need the sheep in the winter, but when spring comes you can’t find any sheep to buy.

“I got the idea to start collecting in high school days,” says Jake. “Around 1932, we had manual training in high school. We got old motors and tore them down and fixed them. Then is when I really got interested.”



Around 1935, Rural Electric Membership Corp. put in electricity around the area. People used electric motors to pump water or run a feed grinder, which left many old engines just sitting around and worth only junk price. 

“In 1937, I made up my mind to get started when I saw this old engine sitting on a lot,” Jake says. “I went and talked to the guy, he said it was a 1919 International kerosene, 3 HP igniter engine and, yes, it was for sale. I bought it for $2 or something like that.” Jake took his old tractor and a farm wagon to pick the engine up. It was not easy – that engine weighed 300-400 pounds – and he didn’t have any help. “I finally got it loaded and went home. When I took the engine apart I saw it needed some repairs so I went to the International dealer and would you believe he had the parts on his shelf? Anyway, that was my start in collecting,” Jake says.