For those of you that are close enough to come and go from Pine Needles and visit with me from time to time you may already know that I have a steam addiction. It all started innocently enough, my husband started helping here at the History Center for the Days of Yesteryear. Next thing I know, Alyssa, myself and my husband are traveling to "Steam Shows." It is important to note, that it is really important, to me, to arrive early enough for the pancake breakfasts and to make the rounds to the steam traction engines as they are punching flues and steaming up for the day. This is the best time to visit with the engineers that operate. There is nothing quite like the moment when it is time to warm up the steam chest and turn over the fly wheel and start things warming up and moving gently.
Before I knew it, my husband was attending Steam School down in Forest City, Iowa over Mother's Day weekend. Then a little time past and he was teaching a section of Steam School. Then, we he was operating engines at Heritage Park of North Iowa and we were spending a full weekend down in Forest City. Next, he gave me a vintage hand crank sewing machine that I used in the Sewing Building on these weekends and I quilted with the kids that came through the building.
But then......the ultimate happened. He gave me a steam engine for Mother's Day.
This is our 1924, 20-70 Nichols & Shepherd Steam Engine, single cylinder side mount. With the help of several steam friends he was able to get it running later in the summer and we were able to run it at the show at Heritage Park and take it to Charles City, Iowa and run it on the sawmill over Labor Day Weekend. That was the real hook for me right there....powering the sawmill. There was no turning back....I was sucked in forever more.
Photo Credit:Tom Olson
Here we are in one of our first parades steaming together.
Next thing I know, there is this auction. Auctions and I just can not pass each other to often. This particular auction steam family were attending and sending us some suggestions. (They are so very helpful). This auction had a 16 Horse, Double Cylinder Side Mount Nichols & Sheperd steam traction engine ...with a canopy. The canopy and the cute paint got me. The Double Cylinder means it is easier to move the engine without putting the flywheel on top dead center which I am pretty darn good at doing. I gave my husband the pleading look and asked May I? May I bid on this engine?
He said yes! What steam man would not? I haven't met one yet. So, this is my second engine. It isn't operational yet but I love this one too. As far as we know, it is only one of 3 out there that exist. This one was is circa 1909.
Now one might think the little steam family would be complete but ohhh that little glimmer in the eye and the right kind of steam friends and for your 55th Birthday another steam engine follows you home.
Pictured:Todd Inglett, Joy Inglett and Tristan Klontz at White Pines Logging and Threshing Show in McGrath Minnesota.
Now this little engine has a story...not going to tell it now but she is a sweet little lady, one of a kind and she dates back to 1892. This is a 18 Horse, Return Flue Nichols and Shepard Steam engine and has a Wisconsin 4 Cylinder engine inside. Sometimes when you have been holding up a building for 70 years, you have to have some internal work done.
For sure, I thought 3 was enough and that was enough Steam Engines for me but when you know Tristan and he says I know of this Sweet Little Engine I think you should have Joy.....well, I guess I thought I should have it too.
Love at first sight! This beautiful engine dates to 1902 and is a 20 Horse Single Cylinder Side mount and is very similar to our first engine and yet so very different. She has a front water tank and the large metal bunkers in the back. This engine also has double firebox doors which make it super easy to load in larger off cuts from the sawmill. The platform in the back is deeper and I love the lower step for me to crawl up on the platform. And, the cast wheels are really nice and the injector on this engine has an amazing pick up.
Most of Labor day weekend we let Phillip and Charlie operate for us but we spent an afternoon on the sawmill at White Pines and let me tell you, the northerners do not waste any movements and those logs flow through the saw one after another. It was impressive and Todd was busy feeding wood and water to maintain our pressure. I kept an eagle eye on the Sawyer and the crew for safety. I was in charge of the shut down if needed. We also were able to operate in the parade.
In sum, we had the best weather and the nicest hospitality from the Langenbach family at the White Pines Logging & Threshing Show. The pancake and sausage breakfast is phenomenal and the family all pitches in to serve up a hearty breakfast to start the day off right.
Steamin' Up is truly a part of me and it is something my husband and I enjoy doing together and I am Blessed to have met so many fine engineers along the way that we call our steam family. If you are in the area, the 1902 Nichols & Shepard engine will be in Racine at the Root River Show in July and Todd and I will be there.
The three on the end are ours and I guess you could say we are a tad brand loyal and maybe even have the beginnings of a collection. However, we might say those that Steam Together, Stay Together. I have celebrated Mother's Day, my Birthday, our Anniversary and Todd's Birthday operating steam and wouldn't have it any other way.
Sadly, steam season is drawing to a close and it's time to start winterizing and polishing brass and thinking about next steam season.
Until next steam season, Happy Sewing, Joy