Saturday, February 14, 2015

Kay-Gee 1640

There's nothing that sounds like steam through a brass whistle. I bought my ticket and walked through the gate at the Dacusville Farm Show and was wondering where to begin when it sounded, almost like an answer to my unspoken question. There was no longer any doubt about which way to go, just head for the puffs of smoke rising into the blue sky.

I had decided to go to the show on the off chance there would be an operating steam engine on display and I hit the jackpot, not one but two sat side by side with steam up, a Keck-Gonnerman traction engine and a Russell portable.

The Kay-Gee was a 19 or 20 HP single cylinder side gear model, probably manufactured around 1920, although I haven't been able to locate a source to verify the serial number.  The Russell, I was told was a 10 HP made in 1895.

Although the company went through a series of changes before 1884, William Gonnerman joined John Keck that year to form Keck-Gonnerman and the firm began producing a line of steam engines at the factory located in Mt. Vernon, Indiana. The firm also manufactured threshing machines, mining equipment and saw mills and quickly became the largest industry in town.

The steam engine line was a mainstay but as the market evolved the company added a two cylinder kerosene tractor in 1918 and a 4 banger in 1928. Steam engines remained in production until 1930.

You can read a more detailed history of Keck-Gonnerman in an article that was written by Brian Wayne Wells for Belt Pulley Magazine at his website at . Another interesting website is at which has an account of a family owned Kay-Gee engine and illustrations from two Keck-Gonnerman catalogs.

I was surprised by how much there was to see at this show, the second one sponsored by the Dacusville Heritage Association. It usually takes a number of years to build an event's participation to this level. We'll wander around and check out more of what was on display in future post so don't touch that dial. So what's in store for 2015? Don't know. As of this writing the Dacusville website hasn't been updated from last year but if you're interested in attending check as summer approaches.

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