Two Steam Traction Engines Moved To Spokane


| March/April 1984



22 HP Advance

22 HP Advance. Chuck Lyons is on the left, Mac Hatley.

2301 West Lynn, #204 Seattle, Washington 98199

'Yes, I do know where there is one.' he said in answer to my question. 'It's back over in that direction'. He pointed toward the rear of his place, toward the east, and toward the lone butte that rises above the Palouse Country northeast of Colton, Washington. Those who have sought steam tractors in Eastern Washington are drawn to Colton; it is the home of the vast, if not restored, Busch collection. I was, of course, one who has made at least a yearly pilgrimage there, beginning during my first year at Washington State University. I discovered the Busch collection that year and, I must admit, I spent hours looking at those engines and dreaming hours I should have spent studying.

In my wanderings I had located several other engines that were not part of the Busch collection. One was a 22 HP Minneapolis belonging to the Druffle family. I tried many times to buy it, but the limited finances of a college student were inadequate. Eventually, I accepted the fact that I would not own that engine, at least until after college. I did return for another purchase attempt the year following my graduation from college. To my dismay, the engine had been moved from the cow pasture to the farmer's barn lot. I was told it had been sold.

As a consolation I did purchase a 2 HP Galloway gas engine, but somehow the thrill was not equivalent to buying a steamer. My companion, Lance Starkey, and I inquired if he, Mr. Druffle, knew of any other old machinery or engines that might be bought. We were directed to a second farm that he worked, where we found a quaint water tank wagon with a Case water pump. Although we did not buy the tank wagon and pump that day, I returned the following summer to get it. In the conversation concluding that purchase I again asked about other machinery or steam engines. Bingo! I had the lead.

The directions took me over the hills to the east, over roads that led back to the farmstead where I'd just loaded the water tank wagon, and then on around the butte. At the end of the road stood another farmhouse. Up on a slight hill to the east of the road was this farm's junk yard. In its center I saw the unmistakable form of a Russell steamer. Naturally, I beat a path to ask permission to look at it. Permission received, I headed for the engine, accompanied by the owner's teenage son.

Closeup I could see it was a good sized engine. Standing in the open on a knoll, it looked big; I guessed 20 HP. It looked complete for an unrestored engine, nothing serious missing. I did notice, however, that this engine's gearing had been used pretty hard. The clutch pinion teeth were, somewhat mushroomed over, indicating hard use and, quite likely, inadequate lubrication. I looked further and discovered that seven of the eight torque bosses that transmit the engine's power from the bull gears to the rear wheel rims were broken not an easy condition to repair.