Friday, August 12, 2016

Illinois Thresher Company

From the fifth 1913 picture
A few days after I saw this picture, I saw the tenth steam tractor that they made, which was built in 1916, running at the Sycamore Steam Show. The horsepower is 20 or 22 depending on which source you read. The company made 63 steam tractors by 1920. There are only six left.(SmokStak1)
#102, a lap seam 20HP
#110, a lap seam 22
#135, a butt strap 20
#147, a butt strap 20
#152, a butt strap 25
#163, a butt strap 25(SmokStak2)

The caption spelled the presidents name incorrectly. It is Rumely. He was the son of Meinard Rumely who made Rumely OilPulls in LaPorte, IN. (VintageMachinery) Bill Rumely tooled up for steam tractors about when steam tractor manufactures such as J.I. Case were tooling up for internal combustion tractors. His own Dad had the sense to produce internal combustion tractors instead of steam tractors.

The Northern Illinois Steam Power Club, which sponsors the annual show, bought the tractor in 2003. They got the engine operational for the 2006 show. But it needed more repairs. As with many repair jobs, once they started taking it apart to fix what they knew was wrong, they found more problems. And when you go after the new problems, you find even more problems, etc. The repair work was extensive including using the Elgin Community College's 3D printer to make molds to pour new bearings. It came back from the shop in 2014 and got a fresh coat of paint. (2016 Show Program)

The first two videos below are during the Parade of Power. The third video is when I noticed it was leaving its "parking place."

They had a display boiler with cutouts so that I can confirm these tractors use fire-tube boilers like those used in steam locomotives. In contrast, stationary boilers in modern coal-fired electric generating plants use water-tube boilers.

During my research I also came across a thresher made by the company. They were made with wood so even though they made a lot of threshers (as opposed to tractors), not many have lasted.

Update: Did they convert to internal combustion tractors or is this Illinois Super-Drive Tractor [Wisconsin Historical Society] made by another company?

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