The ULTIMATE Surprise

1 / 2
2 / 2

Ternings Steam Show 7701 N. Hoover Valley Center, Kansas

I think all of us at one time or another have been surprised by
what somebody has done for us or given to us. It just leaves you
with a warm feeling inside. I want to share the following story
with you because Tom, Aaron and I felt honored that Larry and Mark
Doehling selected our show over the 1988 Labor Day weekend to
present their father, Ed Doehling, the surprise of his life. I will
give you a bit of background on what led up to this event.

Ed Doehling, along with his sons Mark and Larry, had attended
our 1987 Steam Show and had assisted with its functions. They had
such a great time they decided to make Labor Day weekend in Valley
Center a part of their 1988 schedule as well. When 1988 rolled
around Ed and his lovely wife arrived, but no Mark or Larry. Ed
explained that something had come up and that perhaps they could
come later. Ed proceeded to assist the Ottaway family with their
steam carousel. Completely unknown to Ed was the fact that his sons
had been carefully planning the purchase of a steam engine for
their father. They had looked at several engines and had talked
with Tom about various aspects of the different engines.

They decided on a 1916 Case 50 HP, Serial number 33661. It
belonged to Bruce McCourtney of Syracuse, Nebraska. The engine was
stored at Table Rock, Nebraska. This 50 HP Case had been shipped to
Ed West, a Case dealer in Dunbar, Nebraska. He sold it to a
five-man threshing crew near Dunbar in May of 1918. The only
engineer on the threshing crew was George Fenske, who worked the
winter months in Lincoln, Nebraska at the Case Factory Branch
rebuilding engines and separators and getting new ones ready to
sell. Mr. Fenske took excel-lent care of the engine. Several years
later the crew traded the Case back to Ed West for a larger Port
Huron. Mr. West had the engine until 1950 when he sold it to Bruce

Much planning by the Doehling family was done in preparation for
the trip to Valley Center and attempting to sneak this engine past
their father’s eyes until the right moment arrived for its

As soon as Mom and Dad Doehling left for Valley Center on
Friday, September 2nd, Mark, Larry, and Larry’s wife Janice
jumped into action. The camper was packed and the semi-trailer was
made ready for the trip to load the Case engine. They left early
Saturday morning, September 3rd to pick up the engine from Mr.
McCourtney. Loading went well and the Doehlings left Table Rock
around noon.

The trip to Valley Center went well. They arrived about the time
things were beginning to wind down for the day. However, there were
still people riding the carousel so their father was busy and did
not even notice the semi come within 75 feet of his nose. They
drove behind one of the buildings and then proceeded to find their
parents. They found them already out in the parking lot ready to
get cleaned up and visit with friends. They were tired but Mark and
Larry talked them into getting into the Suburban and giving them a
quick tour of the show grounds. Mom and Dad agreed and off they
went. It did not take long to get to the place where the semi and
engine had been placed. They drove right behind the semi and asked
their dad whose engine this was and why in the world was it still
on the semi? Ed was a bit puzzled and said he did not know. Mom
said she had seen it come in but did not know, either, whose it
was. Ed then spotted the Nebraska license plate and also the Butler
County number on the tag. Ed then said to the boys, ‘Well I
wonder whose engine this is?’ They then replied, ‘It’s
yours, Dad!!’ I was told this was the very FIRST TIME they had
ever seen their dad speechless!!! Everyone piled out and it was not
long before Ed, Mark, and Larry were up on the semi looking the
engine over. It took a while for it to soak in. In fact, I saw Ed
several hours later and he still had a bit of a dazed look on his
face. In the excitement, a photo was not taken of the exact moment
but, I think all of you can imagine just what it must have been
like. I just wish you all could have been there to share this very
special time with this very special family. Ed said he was wiping
the smoke from his eyes from running the carousel all day! However,
I believe there was a hint of something else welling up in his

September 5, 1988 after the 4 a.m. steam up: Larry, Ed and Mark
Doehling taken at the Terning’s 11th annual steam show in
Valley Center, Kansas.

The next project was to get the engine ultrasonic tested,
replumbed, and hydro tested so it could hopefully be fired up the
next day. It was found to be in excellent condition. Mark, Larry,
Tom, and Dr. Scott Altenbach of Albuquerque, New Mexico worked well
into the night to achieve this task. It was around 4 a.m. when the
mighty Case came to life once again.

The engine is now getting a new paint job and lots of tender
loving care. It will be on the semi heading for steam shows in

Congratulations to the Doehling family who have preserved
another piece of our American heritage for future generations to
marvel at.

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