The Nettesheim Frick: A FAMILY AFFAIR

| November/December 1987

P. O. Box 6, Germantown, Wisconsin 53022

Welcome to the 29th annual Threshing Bee. As you enter the park, please allow our members and their machines to take you on an adventure into yesteryear. Back to the turn of the century when these devices supplied the power for the farm. The sight of four mammoth steam engines will excite you as they go about the duties of threshing oats or sawing lumber just as they did when they were new and their owners were younger. This story is about one of these steam engines, a 1921 Frick and owned by Alan Nettesheim of Waukesha, Wisconsin.

In the late 1950's the Frick was used on the Conrad Nettesheim farm located on Springdale Road and North Avenue in Brookfield. After the sale of the farm the Frick was moved to the Harold Ney's residence where it sat for twelve years. In the early spring of 1972 Reiner Nettesheim moved the steamer to Hartland, where he lives, and disassembled it. Reiner had hopes of rebuilding the Frick, but that day never came. Alan had discussed purchasing the Frick from his uncle Reiner and did so in February, 1985, for the price of a dollar.

The snow was deep and the yard had to be plowed in order to get the boiler and wheels loaded on Alan's truck. The engine was retrieved from another snow bank that was covered in canvas. For several months Reiner collected parts from his basement and garage and took them to Wisconsin Industrial Machine Service, where Alan works and where the Frick would be rebuilt. If Alan would have had any idea what was in store for him, he would have asked for change from his dollar.

First the engine was worked on, all parts were removed from the carriage and examined. Every piece had to be re-machined, welded, or remade. Everyone at the shop helped in the restoration, just imagine the amount of time needed to turn a rusted tight hulk into a precisioned tuned machine. Alan would finish work at 3 P.M. and then start working on the Frick which took him until 10 P.M. every night. His wife, Sandy, often brought his dinner to him and the two children played in the sand pile next to the shop just so they could see their daddy.

There were several rough spots that required more time and patience from everyone, but the worst was when Alan closely inspected the crankshaft. A crack was found, his heart fell, knowing he could never afford to buy a new piece of steel and turn it down. The restoration project was halted. Alan came home from work early that night, quiet and troubled, Sandy knew something was wrong. After supper he placed a call to his father in Colorado, telling him about the crack. Gene Nettesheim once owned his own machine shop and was an excellent welder, he explained thoroughly what had to be done.