Steam School in Session: Classes Teach Students to Handle Traction Engines

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A period ad for a steam school from The American Thresherman.
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An advertisement from the American Thresherman advertised the Thresher's School of Modern Methods, which at the time was led by none other than the legendary P.S. Rose, then associate edior of The American Thresherman.

Steam schools have been with us since the heyday of steam traction engines. The safe and competent operation of steam traction engines was a priority when steam engines ruled the agricultural landscape 100 years ago, and it’s still a priority today.

Our listing is compiled from information sent by readers and through contact made to schools that have operated in previous years. As such, there may be schools we have omitted, and we encourage readers to alert us to any schools we haven’t listed.

The photo on the top of the page comes from The American Thresherman, and advertised the Thresher’s School of Modern Methods, which at that time was led by none other than the legendary P.S. Rose, then associate editor of The American Thresherman.

Somerset Steam and Gas Engine Assn.

10th Annual Somerset Steam School

Somerset, Va.

April 14-15, 2007

Fairfield View Dairy Farm. The cost is $75, registration is required. Includes all materials and two lunches.

For more information, contact:

Bill Roberts

14375 Blue Ridge Turnpike

P.O. Box 492

Somerset, VA 22972

(540) 672-2495


Midwest Old Threshers

Old Threshers Reunion Steam School

Mt. Pleasant, Iowa

April 28-29, 2007

Registration required. Tuition is $30, which includes materials and two noon meals. Emphasis on classroom and hands-on experience. First day consists of class work with slides, videos and discussions. Second day consists of hands-on operation.

For more information, contact:

Terry McWilliams

Public Relations and Marketing

405 E. Threshers Road

Mt. Pleasant, IA 52641

(319) 385-8937


Oklahoma Steam Threshing & Gas Engine Assn.

Pawnee Steam School 2007

Portland, Ind.

March 24-25, 2007

Tuition is $40, two noon meals included. Registration and prepayment required, enrollment limited. Emphasis on steam basics and safety, repair and maintenance, trouble shooting boiler construction, soft plugs, injectors, plumbing and boiler water treatment. Will cover many other topics.

For more information, contact:

Al Confer

(765) 369-2656

John Girard Jr.

(260) 623-2001; (260) 466-5101

Heritage Park of North Iowa

7th Annual Steam School

Forest City, Iowa

May 19-20, 2007

Tuition is $20, which covers the cost of lunches and handouts for both days. This is a beginner’s class. Class emphasis is on types of boilers, basic boiler operation, safety devices, proper boiler start up and shut down procedures, use of injectors and pumps, forced draft induction, firing a boiler under load, holding constant steam pressure and how to handle emergency situations. Steam engine topics will include basic operation of the steam engine, starting and stopping the engine, how the valve gear works, how a steam engine governor works and how to lubricate the engine and drive train. Under supervision of instructors, students will steam-up and be provided the opportunity to get some hands-on experience operating several steam traction engines. At the conclusion of the class, a test modeled on the Minnesota Hobby Engineer’s Test is administered to interested students.

For more information, contact:

Jerred Ruble

Director of Shows

Heritage Park of North Iowa Project

754 342nd St.

Hanlontown, IA 50444

(641) 797-2697


The Central States Threshermen

Steam School

Pontiac, Ill.

May 19-20, 2007

Threshermen’s Park, two miles north of Interstate 55 on Route 2. Classes begin at 8 a.m.

For more information, contact:

David Schott

620 S. Vermillion St.

Pontiac, IL 61764

(815) 842-3129


Rough & Tumble Engineers Historical Assn.

Rough & Tumble Steam School

Kinzers, Pa.

May 19 and June 2, 2007

Tuition is $60, which includes all materials. Enrollment limited to Rough & Tumble members only, limited to first 22 applicants, available at the Time of Harvest. Emphasis on safety, maintenance, operation and hands-on experience. Class time limited to half of first day, with remaining time dedicated to practical, hands-on, including cleaning, inspection, maintenance and operation.

For more information, contact:

John Johnson

P.O. Box 1068

Exton, PA 19341

(717) 442-4249


University of Rollag

Steam Traction Engineering Course

Steamer Hill, Rollag, Minn.

June 16-17, 2007

Saturday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuition is $50, textbooks included in tuition fee. Tuition deadline is Feb. 15, 2007, which includes books and some meals. The Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion Board of Directors will award any student who is a current, active Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion member a scholarship. There are no course requirements or age limits, with the exception of individuals wishing to acquire a Minnesota Steam Traction license, who must be 18 or older.

Emphasis on classroom instruction and hands-on training. Over 12 steam traction engines, two to three miniatures, three to four stationary and a full-size railroad locomotive will be available for student operation and training. The course fulfills 16 of 25 hours required for a Minnesota Traction Engineers exam, also known as the “hobby” license. The national license ASOPE exam will be given on Sunday at 2 p.m. Cost of the exam is $55. All attendees age 18 or older are eligible to take this exam.

For more information, contact:

Tom Hall


Box 999

Moorhead, MN 56561

(218) 233-1771

Wisconsin Historical Steam Engine Assn. Inc.

Steam School

Edgerton, Wis.

Sept. 28-30, 2007

Rock River Thresheree Show Grounds. Registration is required with a limit of 50 students. The cost is $50, includes textbook, Case steam engine manual, the Steam Traction Engineers checklist and lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Class starts on Friday evening. Subjects covered will be steam theory, boiler construction, operation and maintenance, steam engine components, piping, valves and accessories, prepping an engine for steam-up, responding to emergencies and water treatment. We will have engines steamed up for hands-on training. ASOPE test will be offered, but not mandatory for a fee of $55.

For more information, contact:

Wisconsin Historical Steam

Engine Assn. Steam School

Jeff Bloemers

W. 4597 County Road F

Waldo, WI 53093

(920) 564-6292


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