| March/April 1969

  • Avery 20 HP Engine
    Courtesy of Lucille Blaker, Alvordton, Ohio The Avery 20 and the crew who restored it. Left to right: Robert Gerki, owner Earl B. Davison, Robert Zeller, Willis Boitnott, Joe Boitnott, Clarence Pittenger.
    Lucille Blaker
  • Zeller crew
    Courtesy of Lucille Blaker, Alvordton, Ohio. A most important member of the Zeller crew was the cook. Here in front of his ''kitchen'' is Harold Hutchinson, Robert Zeller, Willis Boitnott and sons Richard and Joe.
    Lucille Blaker

  • Avery 20 HP Engine
  • Zeller crew

Alvordton, Ohio


Long-time readers of the Iron Men Album will perhaps remember 'The Story of the Big Avery 40' which I wrote for the July-August issue in 1953. As they will recall, I began by saying that reports had come to Louis David of Northville, Michigan, of a giant steam traction engine hidden in the sand hills of Nebraska. The story told of the exciting discovery of the engine, hidden by the sands around it in the course of years; of its purchase and subsequent transport to the Blaker farm near Alvordton, Ohio. Many were the difficulties encountered, including several brushes with the law, but it was finally restored to its original condition and shown at more than one of the Reunions of the Association, of which Louis was a very active member.

History doesn't exactly repeat itself, but here, for what it is worth, is the true story of another steam traction engine of the name of Avery.

All who knew Louie David, 'The Little Giant', were stunned at his sudden passing in 1958, at the age of 56. His large collection of steam engines was scattered, since, as so often happens, his son Gerald had no interest in them or in anything powered with steam-gas was his interest. The Avery 40 of the story was purchased by members of the LaPorte County Historical Steam Society, where it may be seen during their annual shows. Another of Louis' engines was or is the 1965 HP Port Huron, purchased by the National Threshers Association in 1958.

In addition to the engines mentioned above, Louis had acquired two other Averys'. Since he stood only about five feet tall, it was inevitable that he should be fascinated with these Avery engines, to my knowledge among the very largest steam traction engines ever built. One he found near Innisfail, Alberta, Canada, (after his death, a Mr. Hartley of near Janesville, Wisconsin, purchased this particular Avery to show at the steam show near his home.) For some unexplained reason, LeRoy and I had never known where the other Avery 20 had gone until two years ago. By chance, we learned that a retired Detroit insurance man, Mr. Earl B. Davison, had bought it to add to his considerable collection of antiques, engines and farm machinery, being assembled at a farm he owned near Plymouth, Michigan.


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