The Aultman & Taylor Company

1 / 5
Inaccurately, Mansfield's Weekly News for March 14, 1907, called attention to Aultman & Taylor's big engine.
2 / 5
3 / 5
10 HP wooden-wheeled Eureka built in 1878; restored by Joe Rynda (posing beside engine).
4 / 5
Aultman & Taylor engine built in 1878; sold to Grunsteen; restored by Joe Rynda.
5 / 5
William Koppes' small thresher designed for Aultman & Taylor.

The 12th installment of Dr. Bixler’s history of the Aultman
& Taylor Company, as edited by Dr. Robert T. Rhode, appears in
this issue of the Iron-Men Album, which is serializing Dr.
Bixler’s book. Dr. Bixler, a professor at Muskingum College in
New Concord, Ohio, passed away before he could publish the
manuscript to which he had devoted considerable energy. Several
manuscripts belonging to Dr. Bixler are in the Sherman Room of the
Mansfield/Richland County Public Library in Mansfield, Ohio. This
installment presents detailed factual data, supplying a vital
resource for researchers.

CHAPTER 12

At a meeting of the board of directors of the Aultman &
Taylor Machinery Company held on Nov. 8, 1904, G.W. Gans presented
a report on a double-cylinder engine patented and built by the
Improved Engine Company, which was located at Myersdale, Pa. It was
his recommendation that Aultman & Taylor acquire the exclusive
right to manufacture that engine or in some way secure control of
it. At that meeting the president was empowered to appoint a
committee to visit the plant of the Improved Engine Company for the
purpose of investigating the double-cylinder engine and to
ascertain the conditions by which the Aultman & Taylor
Machinery Company might acquire control of the patents on that
engine.

The president appointed a committee consisting of the following
members: E.W. Gans sic, A. Kalmerten, and G.W. Seaman. As
instructed, the committee visited the company in Myersdale,
carefully examined the engine, and at the December meeting of the
board of directors reported favorably on the merits of the engine.
However, their mission to Myersdale failed because of the
unreasonable royalty demands made by the parties that controlled
the patents. Their report was followed by a lengthy discussion,
after which it was decided to design and build Aultman &
Taylor’s own double-cylinder engine.

Accordingly Mr. Seaman, who was a draftsman and for a few years
the superintendent of the plant, at once began work on designing
the bid engine. That engine was built at the Diamond Street plant
in Mansfield, and, while the exact date of its completion is
unknown, it probably was constructed near the end of 1906 or the
beginning of 1907.1

In any case the first publicity about the engine in a newspaper,
including a picture of the engine, occurred on March 14, 1907. The
engine was rated at 45 HP, with the maximum indicated horsepower
171 and a maximum economic horsepower of 120. The Aultman &
Taylor Machinery Company was one of the first to design and
assemble a large traction engine.

The building of that engine came as a result of a market for an
engine larger and more powerful than were the traction engines in
use at that time. The demand for larger engines came primarily from
the Western states, Mexico, and Canada.

LARGEST TRACTION ENGINE II THE WORLD

It was a double-cylinder engine mounted on top of the boiler.
The dimensions of the cylinders were 10 inches by 19 inches. It was
rated as a 45 HP engine, but, in the tests to which it was
subjected, it developed 111 to 120 HP. The drive wheels were 7 feet
in diameter with a face of 42 inches. The supply tanks had a
capacity of 800 gallons of water, and the coal-bunkers carried
1,500 pounds of coal. It was fitted with a new, patented steering
device. With a simple turn of the wheel the engineer could steer
the engine in any direction. The boiler was 42 inches in diameter,
and the height of the engine was 15 feet. A picture was taken with
a man standing beside it which gives one an impression of the
immensity of the engine; the man appears to be the size of a small
boy.

The engine was given a series of thorough and rigid tests in the
shops and on the road. The tests proved that it could be used
economically, and the road tests demonstrated that it was an
excellent road engine. It was capable of traveling at the rate of
2-4/10 miles per hour. One of the tests was of considerable
interest and demonstrated its great power. The men in charge
attached to the drawbar of the engine two traction engines, a 20
and a 25 HP, well loaded with coal and water. It pulled that load
of two dead engines up Franklin Avenue Hill, located north of the
factory, and Park Avenue East, and then it returned to the factory.
That test, or feat, was performed with the greatest ease. The
assertion was made that it had the power to plow up Main Street
with gang-plows almost the entire width of the street.

The engine burned coal, wood, or straw. Because of this feature
it was well adapted to the needs of the Western grain-growing
states. Then, too, the company believed that there would be a
demand for such an engine in the Canadian Northwest. In spite of
the demand on the part of the great ranch owners it was ignored for
a number of years. Finally, the evermore-insistent demand convinced
the officials of the Aultman & Taylor Machinery Company of the
need of building an experimental engine of the type already
described.

Still another use for that engine that the builders envisioned
was in connection with the Mexican mines. Since that engine was a
good hill climber, it was surmised that it could haul the ore as
rapidly as a mule team and at considerably less
expense.2

The giant engine was used for various kinds of work around the
factory and yards until 1909. It was found to be as serviceable as
were the smaller engines. Even though there was a demand for this
kind of engine, yet the company was unable to sell that engine as
soon as it was built. However, in April of 1909 it was shipped to
Faulkton, Faulk County, S.D., in the heart of the wheat fields.
Several of the men who were spectators when it was loaded for
shipment testify that, because of its weight, two flat-cars were
required to transport it.3

So far as the author has been able to ascertain, there is no one
living today in Mansfield or its environs who was privileged to see
that engine. Those who witnessed its performance in the yards of
the company and in the city of Mansfield are all gone. Only a few
men are living today who saw that engine or had any experience with
it. They are elderly men in Faulkton or in that vicinity. They are
in the unique position of being able to share with others their
impressions of the big engine.

Ray Church of Faulkton remembers that engine when it came in
April of 1909. He was 14 years of age. The engine was bought by
Fred E. Udell, who lived on a farm nine miles south of Faulkton.
That farm was later owned by Church and is now in the possession of
Church’s son, Richard. The big engine became known in that area
as the ‘Udell Engine.’

Udell owned three quarter sections of land. In addition to doing
his own work he also did a large amount of work for other farmers.
The engine was used for plowing and broke many acres of prairie
ground. It could pull 14 plows, and Church often operated the
plows. He also hauled water for that engine and recalls one
especially busy day when he hauled nine tanks (15 barrels to the
tank) of water for it. One tank of water was usually required to
make a round for breaking ground.

Electus Pritchard ran that engine for Udell for several years
and was paid $5 per day. During the threshing season those men
pulled a 40-inch separator with that engine and could thresh 5,000
bushels of oats per day.

Peter Baughs states that, in the fall of the year, they added an
extension of two plows, making altogether 16 plows, which that
engine pulled covering almost 20 feet of ground in one swath. Mr.
Baugh’s brother, John, was the plow tender and was paid $1.75
per day. That outfit broke 45 to 50 acres of sod per day. It should
be remembered that those were 14-hour days.

During 1910 the engineer was Henry Struever. The men threshed so
late in the fall that they were caught in a snowstorm and were
unable to finish the threshing. The farmer, Dan Cooper, had to
stack his grain, which was threshed the next spring.

Faulkton had its own light plant, and on one occasion the gas
engine that powered the plant broke down. It could not be replaced
immediately, so the Faulkton town officials rented the big engine
and belted it to the generator. A house was built to cover the
engine, and the engineer, Buttler Lambert, ran it each night and
furnished light for the community.

After using the engine for five years, it was sold to William
and Fred Olsen, who lived about a mile south of Faulkton. The
engine was known widely for its power and operated the largest
threshing machines. It did not lose power until the steam pressure
was down to 40 pounds. When that engine got stuck, it was really a
stuck engine, and it was quite an operation to get it going
again.

The men who ran it used coal for fuel when plowing, and, when
the engine pulled a threshing machine, flax was often used for
fuel. The engine was last run during the early 1920s and in 1936
was sold for scrap iron.4

As stated earlier, that engine was built as an experiment. Why
didn’t the company put that type of engine into production? No
firm answer can be given to that question. The cost of building
that engine must have been considerable, and perhaps the company
decided that there could be little or no profit in that type of
engine. It may well be that they had some misgivings about the
engine. There is a clue, and it is only a clue. In several of the
company’s catalogs statements were made that pointed out the
advantages of the side-mounted single-cylinder engine as contrasted
with the double-cylinder engine, and those statements were made on
the basis of the company’s many years of experience with both
types of engines.

Whatever the reasons may have been, it was the only engine of
that type that the company ever built. The history of the giant
engine has been something of a mystery to those who have learned of
its existence by way of the grapevine but never have had access to
authentic information. Consequently, in the preceding pages an
attempt has been made to present reliable information pertaining to
the big engine, so that it may be to the reader more than a mere
legend.

Joe Rynda’s Eureka Engines

On Aug. 15, 1932, Joe Rynda had his 10 HP Eureka engine steamed
up, when he was approached by a tall, elderly man, who remarked,
‘Fifty years ago today (Aug. 15, 1882) I was married in St.
Scholatica church at Heidelberg, Minn. When we came out of the
church, this engine was coming up the hill from the north, having
been unloaded at Prague. It was driven by the owners, the Prochaska
brothers, to their farm home in Montgomery Township, LeSueur
County. That engine was used for threshing in Montgomery,
Lexington, and Lanesburg Townships.’

It had wooden wheels and was probably built in 1877. Around 1894
that engine was sold to the Wondra brothers, who used it for
threshing and sawing lumber. In 1900 it was traded for a 16 HP
Gaar-Scott return-flue engine. During the next four years the
Eureka stood on Main Street near the railroad tracks in Montgomery.
It was then sold to Albert Brabec Rynda’s uncle.

One day it was decided to take the engine home. The boiler was
filled with water, and steam was raised. Rynda’s father was
unable to start the engine; it would not turn over. The engineer
who had operated the engine did not open the cylinder cocks, and
the piston was rusted to the cylinder. After removing the cylinder
head they used cordwood and a sledge to drive the piston into the
cylinder. Then the engine would turn. Brabec was a competent
mechanic and placed the engine in good shape. He used it until 1925
for driving a two-roll Rosenthall corn husker.

In 1909, Rynda was a 17-year-old boy, 6 feet tall but not very
wide, so he was able to get through the small firebox door to roll
in new flues. While rolling flues he told his Uncle Brabec that, if
he ever wanted to sell that engine, he would like to have it. In
the spring of 1925 Brabec pulled that engine to Rynda’s home
and said, ‘I pulled that engine in the hog lot, and you can
have it.’

10 HP wooden-wheeled Eureka restored by ‘Steam Engine
Joe’ Rynda, posing by engine on his 75th birthday, Feb. 12,
1967; photo courtesy of Joe Rynda.

During the years of 1931 and 1932 Rynda became quite ill,
forcing him to live on milk and crackers. He concluded that he did
not have long to live and began looking for a home for the Eureka.
He wrote to the Ford Museum, but they would not take the engine
until they had its complete history. They offered to buy the
engine, but Joe would not sell it. Instead, he gave it to them with
the stipulation that, should the museum ever move out of the United
States or be closed, then the engine was to revert to the living
descendants of Rynda.

One summer day a trailer that was used to transport cars came to
the Rynda farm. The engine was loaded and hauled to Duluth, where
it was placed on a boat and shipped to the Ford Museum in Detroit.
Today that engine with its wooden wheels stands on the floor at the
Ford Museum where thousands of curious people admire it. Just
before that engine was moved, Leonard L. Rynda, son of Joe, used a
center punch to cut his name on the crosshead slides, and there it
is for all to see.

From 1934 until 1951 Joe Rynda did not have a Eureka engine in
his yard but kept looking for one. Then in the early summer of 1951
the state inspector informed him of one that was on the Grundsteen
estate near Harris, Minn. That was in the wild country of
Minnesota. Joe found the engine among the trees that had grown
around it. A 5-inch elm had grown around the cylinder, so he
literally had to chop the engine out. The top of the governor and
the Stephenson link were gone, and the smokestack was lying down.
The serial numbers of the governors of those two engines differed
only by six digits. Upon closer examination it was discovered that
the two engines were identical, which suggests that they were
probably built during the same year.

There were six children in the Grundsteen family, and they
decided that Rynda should have the engine, for which each of them
was to receive $20. So Joe paid $120 for the engine. Some of the
parts, such as a bull gear and a pinion, were buried in the ground
under a woodpile. That was done to avoid the ravages of the World
War II scrap drive. The old wood on the wheels was scarcely able to
support the engine while it was loaded on a truck, so it was
necessary to have all of the wooden parts of the wheels replaced.
Those parts of the wheels were made in a wood shop at Prague,
Minn., the cost of which was $800. It was a great satisfaction for
Rynda to discover that the boiler was like a new one. After a
considerable amount of work the engine was completely restored, and
then Rynda exhibited the engine at shows and ran it in parades
whenever such opportunities arose. Not only did he bring pleasure
to himself, but also he brought enjoyment to untold numbers by the
restoration of the two old and rare Aultman & Taylor Eureka
engines.5

Rynda was a pioneer in the collecting of all kinds of steam
engines. At his death he was credited with having the largest
collection of steam traction engines in the nation. He was a
competent operator of steam traction engines, enjoyed working with
them, and experienced many hours of pleasure exhibiting them at
community events and steam shows. Rynda was widely and
affectionately known as ‘Steam Engine Joe Rynda.’ He died
on Feb. 17, 1972, at the age of 79. Burial was at Montgomery,
Minn., where he resided during most of his life.6

The Grasshopper Engine

Galland’s first delivery was one of Aultman &
Taylor’s traction engines nicknamed ‘The Grasshopper.’
Those engines were built with the rear axle in front of the
firebox. Occasionally, when one of them ascended a hill, the front
of the engine would rear up or hop, from which it acquired its
nickname. Galland delivered the engine at Hixton, Minn., in 1899.
It was the first traction engine ever delivered in that town, and
it turned out to be a great event for the inhabitants of that
community. People living there and for miles around witnessed the
unloading of the engine from a flatcar. A few of the more
adventurous climbed on top of the separator and rode out of
town.

Later that year Qalland delivered the first 12 HP Eureka in that
area. At that time it was considered to be quite large and almost
in the same class with a locomotive.7

The Little Separator

William Koppes was employed by the Champion Thresher Company,
located at Orville, Ohio. It was there that he designed and built
the first Champion separator, with which he threshed using
horsepower. After that company closed out its business, Koppes went
to Mansfield, where he was employed as a designer by the Aultman
& Taylor Machinery Company. In 1921 he designed and built a
half-scale separator. Upon its completion he showed it to Walter L.
Blakely.

The sole purpose of that machine was to meet the demand of
farmers in the hilly country of southeastern Ohio, West Virginia,
Maryland, and Pennsylvania. The Frick and Geiser companies had
already placed small separators on the market, and so an additional
purpose for building the machine was to compete with those
companies.

The two companies mentioned did not use screens or riddles. The
Aultman & Taylor people took the position that it was
impossible to clean foreign materials from grain without the use of
riddles and screens. Since Aultman & Taylor separators were
fitted with screens, this became one of the strong points in their
favor.

This unusual separator is known only to a relatively small
number of persons, and even a smaller number have been privileged
to see the machine. The author was fortunate, in that he made a
careful examination of the separator. It is now in the possession
of Ervin Martin, a nephew of Koppes, and stands on the barn floor
on Martin’s farm. To Blakely, whose knowledge of this machine
surpasses that of any living person, the author is deeply indebted
for his comprehensive explanation of every aspect of the little
separator.

Its cylinder is 12 inches in width, and the length of the
separator from the end of the feed board to the back of the machine
is 10 feet. A glance at the little separator shows that the blower
drum is on the left side of the machine. The designer placed it
there to shorten the length of the machine, so as to make it more
adaptable to barn threshing. An additional reason for its location
was so that grain could be threshed out of the mow and the straw
blown into the opposite mow or barn floor. Moreover, its location
facilitated the pitching of the bundles of grain from near the
center of the mow.

Opposite the blower drum is located a 1- or 2-inch air tube. The
wind from the fan blows the chaff toward the blower drum. The
practicality of this device would immediately impress a
professional thresherman, when one considers certain conditions
with which threshermen were often annoyed. When threshing was done
in the field, there were occasionally soggy bundles, filled with
mud. When a mass of that kind of material went through a threshing
machine, it would frequently lodge in the blower boot and would not
slide down to the blower fan. When that occurred, and if it were
not caught within a few seconds, the entire machine would be full
of straw rendering it inoperative.

The manner in which Koppes designed that machine would have to a
large extent alleviated the problem just described. There is every
reason to believe that, if the half-scale separator had been placed
into production, it would have been a success, since it was such a
practical idea that would have had a great appeal to professional
thresher-men.

Following the liquidation of the Aultman & Taylor Machinery
Company, all of their patterns, models, etc., were destroyed by the
Advance-Rumely Company, which had purchased them. Soon after the
destruction of those materials Blakely journeyed to Mansfield and
went back to the old boiler shop, where he had gone on many
previous occasions. It was dark in the old shop, but with the aid
of a glimmer of light emanating from the open door he found the
little separator. For some reason it had escaped destruction.

Blakely hastened to the Koppes home, met Koppes on the street,
and informed him of his discovery. Thereupon he suggested that the
two of them go down to the shop and see the machine. After looking
at the separator for a moment Koppes remarked, ‘By God,
that’s mine!’ He was greatly surprised that it was still
there.

Immediately Koppes went to a phone and called one of his
neighbors, an elderly man who had a Ford truck with a worm drive on
the rear axle. The three men loaded that little separator onto the
old truck and with all the speed of which it was capable
transported their precious cargo to the Koppes home. After it was
unloaded, it suddenly dawned upon Blakely that he had helped to
steal a separator; then realizing the gravity of the situation he
decided it was high time for him to make tracks. So he removed
himself from that scene with due haste.

Without doubt it was a stroke of luck that Blakely discovered
the little separator. Had it not been for his foresight, that
little separator would in all likelihood have been destroyed. A few
years later the two men met at the Ohio State Fair, and Koppes
stated that, five years after he built that separator, the Huber
Company decided to build a prototype of a separator. They employed
Koppes, and he took the model separator with him to the Huber
plant. It was at that plant that Blakely last saw the little
separator.

Following the death of Koppes all trace of the machine was lost.
Blakely searched for 10 years before he located it. Martin informed
the author that Mr. Miller, who was associated with the Huber
Company, was instrumental in placing the little separator into his
possession. As already mentioned, the separator now is on
Martin’s farm near Smithville, Ohio. Martin has displayed this
unique and remarkable machine at the Dover and Mansfield, Ohio,
shows. Through the generosity of Martin large numbers of people
have had the privilege of enjoying this machine. That separator was
never placed into production, since it was soon after its
completion that the company was liquidated.8 It is illustrative of
the genius of many of the designers who created improvements on
threshing machines, making them gradually more efficient .

The burial of Koppes was at the Medina, Ohio, cemetery on May
26, 1936.

Notes

1. Record Book, minutes of the meetings of the stockholders and
directors of the Aultman & Taylor Machinery Company.
2. Mansfield Weekly News, March 14, 1907.
3. Mansfield Weekly News, April 29, 1909.
4. Letters and correspondence with Robert Deinslake, president of
Faulkton Community Club; Ray Church, Owen Roberts, Earnest Llob,
all residents of Faulkton, S.D., and Peter Bauks, resident of
Ethan, S.D.
5. Information taken from letters written by Joe Rynda to the
author and unpublished manuscripts written by him.
6. Hayes, John. ‘The Golden Roll.’ Iron-Men Album magazine
(May/June 1971). 31.
7. The Rooster, 1920. 2-3.
8. Interviews with Walter Blakely and Ervin Martin.

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