| January/February 1980

  • Case steam engine
    Courtesy of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska.
    Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Case steam engine

Joe Prochaska (center) tells about use of corn to fire up in an interview with Rollin Scheider, extension safety  specialist at the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The one-fourth scale Case steam engine, built by Prochaska,  burns ear corn or corn cobs. The boys are Joe's son, Frank, in railroad cap, and Galen Krenk.

Joe Prochaska, Nebraska farmer, was featured in a recent issue of Farm Journal magazine as he demonstrated use of ear corn and corn cobs to fire up his one-fourth scale Case steam traction engine.

Joe spent four winters making parts for the engine, and the fifth putting it together. It was modeled after a Case his dad had owned.

'I remember many a morning starting it up with corn,' he says. 'I carried a lot of cobs.'

His grandfather, who did custom threshing, burnt nothing but corn.

When asked by us whether he felt corn cobs and steam engines could help meet the fuel crunch, Joe commented that he did not see why not. Last time he priced coal, he said, he found the cost comparable with that of ear corn.