Zip Eaton, retired jeweler who has one of the best equipped and
maintained home workshops we’ve ever seen, is a star of Broad
way he lives at 1605 Broadway, Helena, Montana.
His latest achievement is the construction of a two inch scale
working model of a 65 HP 1915 Case steam traction engine, which can
serve as an example to others who would undertake a similar
Zip, who is a reader of IMA as well as Home Shop Machinist,
earlier built a small steam engine that ran on compressed air, as
well as hit and miss gas engines, and a four-cylinder gasoline
engine from castings bought from Coles. He did the machining
‘I remember the J. I. Case as a kid,’ he told us.
‘My father was a grain buyer and had done some threshing when
he was a kid. He was a personal friend of the chief of the board
and the CEO of J. I. Case Company.
‘I bought the castings and plans from Coles. I made a lot of
wheels and made the spokes for the wheels with reverse castings. I
made the governor myself. The castings are for the main parts but
everything had to be aligned and honed and reamed. I had the small
‘It took 1,000 to 1,200 hours. I enjoyed it so much it
didn’t make a lot of difference.
‘My granddaughter, Chris Purcell, of Helena, is the artistic
type, very exacting, and she painted it. She’s a Montana State
College student at Bozeman.
‘It runs like a top. Everybody is amazed. I’ve shown it
in motion to children, and to friends such as Al Brown and John
Baucus and other people. When I fired it up I just had to tighten
the clutch a little.
‘It weighs 150 pounds with water in it. Bill Bradford gave
me invaluable help in figuring the horsepower. He said you use
PLANPressure, Length of stroke, Area of piston and Number of
revolutions; you multiply them and divide by 33,000. That comes to
3 HP, a lot for so small an engine.’
Zip became an IMA reader when given a subscription by John
Baucus, our cousin by marriage. We had lunch with Zip, Al Brown and
John Baucus while visiting the Baucuses in Helena. Zip’s
workshop is about as complete as a home workshop can be, and
he’s a very good house keeper.