New Antique Giant Steam Tractor

Stumbled on this video as the Roku Youtube app is a bit confused by the range of what I watch.

The sound is a bit hard to follow. During the “Discussion” the maker of this beast points out that all of the CASE built versions had rusted away or been scrapped. But he found the blueprints in the CASE archives. So built one!

Yup, he and a few friends built a Brand New Case 150 monster steam tractor. A local foundry made the cast parts. One Off parts were made with laser cutters if I understood him correctly. Also, the blueprints where turned into CAD drawings for a visualization before parts making. Essentially bringing modern Engineering Design tools to the world of 1800s Steam design ;-)

It is refreshing to realize we still have a lot of folks with the skills needed to fabricate things. Even one-off giant things with modestly poor specifications. In an EOTWAWKI event I want folks like him living down the lane ;-)

Lots of photos at this link (including shop work):

“Thank you for visiting the 150HP Case homepage. LET’S KEEP HISTORY ALIVE.” -Kory Anderson, 150HP Case Engineer

While nominally only 150 HP, realize that with such low RPM and long stroke, the torque on that thing will be monster size. A “square” (meaning same size) bore x stroke of 14 inches each. Then no traction issues with a set of cleated iron wheels and 75,000 lbs of weight pushing them into the dirt.

I’ve seen it’s little brother fired up at the UC Davis Picnic Day tractor parade. I thought it was big, but this monster is about 2 x as big.

THE 150 HP CASE IS THE LARGEST STEAM TRACTION ENGINE EVER PRODUCED. Built originally in 1905, zero of them ever lived on – until recreated from scratch in 2018 by Kory Anderson.

The journey of the multi-year build was followed by more than 10,000 followers on Facebook and eventually led to more than 5 million views on YouTube with his legendary “engine pull” in September 2019 at the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion (WMSTR) in Rollag, Minnesota. This site is a place for steam engineers and hobbyists to learn more about bringing the 150 Case to life.

engine specifications:
35 tons weight loaded || 180 PSI boiler pressure || 200 RPM engine operating speed

Here’s a 20 minute video of them doing a World Record plough pull. 44 plow blades all being pulled through the dirt at once. 20-something folks standing on the large platform the tractor is pulling, just to raise and lower the ploughs. I’m impressed with the number of farmers and old hardware folks who showed up.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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7 Responses to New Antique Giant Steam Tractor

  1. erl happ says:

    Just a joy to watch. Thanks.

  2. Tammly says:

    Does my heart good to see it.

  3. jim2 says:

    I love the “X” that built America series. If you can, you should watch at least this one. There is footage of some other huge rebuilt steam tractors. At least I believe those were real and not CGI.

    The Machines That Built America
    S1 E1
    Tractor Revolution
    43m | 2021 | TV-PG | CC

    In the 1870s, harvesting crops is grueling, back-breaking work. Farmers must walk miles behind horse drawn plows to get food on American tables. But a group of dreamers–all of them rivals–has a vision that will change farming forever and create one of the world’s most iconic machines: the tractor. Their quest to corner the market–worth 75 billion today–produces some of the greatest innovations and most iconic brands of all time: Caterpillar, John Deere, and Ford.

  4. another ian says:

    The Haynes Merlin manual points out that those same engineering techniques to recreate parts are keeping them flying.

    About 170,000 built, NOS very rare

  5. H.R. says:

    I checked in at my old workplace earlier this year and forgot to ask about 3-D printing.

    We were unique among hydraulic pipe makers in that we’d weld on the fittings when the pipe was straight, and then bend the pipe to its final shape.

    The bend tooling was specialized to hold particular fittings. When a new fitting was called out, our tool-making vendor was always behind the 8 ball because it would take about 8 weeks before we could get them an actual part to verify their tool, which was made from drawings of the new part.

    3-D printing isn’t really suitable for making parts that will withstand 10,000 psi pressures, but it’s perfectly fine for making a part for a fit check in new tooling. That would give our tooling

    When I retired, we were kicking around 3-D printing, but hadn’t pulled the trigger on it. It should have been done by now.

    For making sand casting patterns, 3-D printing is the best thing ever to come along. The patterns were done before a traditional pattern maker probably could even round up the materials to start on a pattern.

    This complete recreation of the Case 150 would have taken years longer without the 3-D printers and the CAD files to load into the CNC mills and lathes.

    A couple of hours from my home, there’s a nice little collection of old steam tractors. It was about a half-dozen, but maybe a few more now.

    Only one or two are restored and are fired up a couple of times per year. The rest are in good shape, but not really much good except for static display. The nice thing about those is the public is allowed to crawl all over and around those static units. They are not ‘hands off’. You can fiddle with the levers and pedals and imagine what it was like to run one of them.

    It’s been 15 or so years since I’ve been there. Perhaps they have been able to restore a couple more now that the missing or broken parts are easier to remake. The biggie is the boiler, though. Most all of those are rusted, weak and leaky and are unsafe. There’s no 3-D printing for the boilers ☹

    What I learned at that place about those earliest large steam tractors was that most farmers couldn’t afford one for their 160 or so acres, which is all you could work with horses and mules. So some enterprising guy would buy one of those monsters and go from farm to farm, plowing or harvesting for a fee. Then on to the next field over. The farmers waiting their turn would go to where the tractor was operating and help out to speed things along.

    The big steam tractors didn’t really travel down the road. They just went farm to farm to farm and after a bit, they were many miles from where they started.

    Farmers didn’t start getting their own tractors until the smaller, steam versions came out. Then the ICE versions came out and that was the death of the steam tractors. Farmers could work their own farm when the weather was in their favor and not have to wait their turn, which may have come up when the weather was less favorable.

    The better farmers could buy out their less successful neighbors and work more than 160 acres. Farms started to grow to 300 and 400 and 500 acres, but that was about it until the more recent behemoths started coming out.

    Now it seems you need at least 1,000 acres planted just to make the payments on your equipment. That’s what has been going on around my neck of the woods. A farmer might own 300 or 400 acres, and then lease the rest from families that still have 40 or 80 or 100 acre patches left of the old family farm that they can no longer farm at a profit.

    Now the squeeze around here on farmers is the kids are selling those 40 and 80 acres to developers and the farmers are running short of enough tillable land to make a profit.

    Here’s another listing of steam tractors for sale with a nice discussion on prices.

  6. H.R. says:

    BTW, all that babbling above is specific to the rolling hills and ravines that cut through the scattered nice flat farmland around my area.

    The plains, of course, were a different story. There were miles of flat land in all directions, interrupted only by the creeks and rivers that formed from the natural draining of the land. I’m sure it was a bit – maybe a lot – different in Kansas, Oklahoma , Iowa and like terrains.

    I’d imagine the big rigs were in their element there. Less so where I am.

  7. The True Nolan says:

    @H.R. “Now the squeeze around here on farmers is the kids are selling those 40 and 80 acres to developers and the farmers are running short of enough tillable land to make a profit.”

    Here in the Ozarks we bypassed that problem completely by simply not having much tillable flatland to start with. (Maybe someone can build a time machine so we can hire some ancient Peruvians to terrace everything for us.)

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