Saturday, January 14, 2017

J.I. Case 30 HP Portable Steam Engine

A new steam engine made an appearance at the Dacusville Farm Show this year. Fired up and powering a sawmill was this 30 hp J.I. Case portable.

The brass data plate attached to this engine doesn’t give you a lot of information, just the horsepower and the engine number.

The owner told me he believes it was built between 1915 and 1920. A register of Case engines posted at list engine number 23033 and  number 23052 as being built in 1910 but does not include this engine’s number. A list of serial numbers posted at has 1910 production running from 22870 to 24277 . Based on those two sources I think 1910 is probably about right.

I haven’t found a 1910 Case catalog online but there is a 1916 catalog posted at . Portable engines were available in sizes ranging from 18 up to 80 horsepower. Judging by the catalog illustrations available, the design of the Case engine did not change very much from year to year.

All sizes except for the 18 and 30hp models were available with straw burning attachments and jacketed boilers for an extra $50. With this engine your choice of fuel was limited to wood or coal. If you were operating a sawmill like this one, that wasn’t an issue.

This photo gives a good look at the side mounted engine with the water heater below it. The Case catalog included testimonials from owners like: “ It’s an easy steamer.” and explained that the heater used exhaust steam from the engine to heat makeup water before it entered the boiler to increase efficiency.

Case portable engines were offered at prices ranging from $600 for an eighteen hp to $1300 for an eighty hp model..

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Rumely Oil Pull Type M 20-35

Meinrad Rumely was dead, there was no doubt about it. Even the board of directors said so. His grandson, the good Doctor Edward A. Rumely had returned from Germany where he had been studying medicine to head up the company. He had met Rudolf Diesel while he was there and was  impressed by the potential of his engine. On this side of the pond John Secor had also been developing an engine that could burn cheap fuels and in 1908 Dr. Rumely recruited his services. Assisted by the Rumely factory superintendent, William Higgins, he designed the first Oil Pull tractor in 1909. By the end of 1910 more than a hundred had been manufactured.

Early production models like the Type B 25-45 Oil Pull were large, heavy and expensive but they were well received and Rumely sold a lot of them. As it turned out Rumely sold too many of them ( most on credit sales ) and a crop failure in 1914 sent the company into bankruptcy when farmers defaulted on their loans. The company was soon reorganized but without the Rumely family who were left holding a lot of worthless paper. Maybe Ed Rumely should have studied business administration instead of medicine.

In the day of sod busting on the the prairies the big tractors were king, but by the 1920’s the market was shifting toward smaller, lighter and less expensive equipment. Rumely had produced a light tractor as early as 1916 when it introduced the 8-16 All Purpose which was followed in 1919 by a 12-20 Oil Pull. The type M 20-35 Oil Pull ( the subject of this post ) was introduced in 1924 and remained in production until 1927.

Early in 1925 Rumely packed up serial number 79 of the M 20-35 and shipped it off to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln where it was tested between March 29 to April 15 in Tractor Test # 111. You can view and download a complete copy of the test report by visiting http:// .

Specifications listed on the report gave the model M a horizontal 2 cylinder valve in head engine with a bore of 6 13/16” and stroke of 8 ¼” . Turning at 640 rpm it produced 35.39 brake hp and 21.13 hp at the drawbar while consuming 3.586 gal. of kerosene per hour. Forward speeds were recorded as 2 mph in first, 2.5 mph in second and 3 mph in third.

Sources: Nebraska Tractor Test # 111 report, Encyclopedia of American Farm Tractors by C. H. Wendel. And special thanks to the members of the Richland Creek Antique Power Association for providing the photo op.