World's Largest Steam Engine Reborn in South Dakota
"In the steam engine hobby, it has a huge legacy. It's like the Titanic of the tractors. I mean it was the biggest one ever produced and none of them survived."
That's the way Kory Anderson describes the world's only Case 150 steam engine that he rebuilt from just the original boiler and revealed this year at the James Valley Threshing Show in Andover, S.D. "The road locomotive was basically lost in history. I mean, none had survived over the last 100 years. All the nine that were built were eventually scrapped and so it was kind of lost in history until we recreated it and brought it back to life in September of this year," he says.
The project is one Anderson dreamed of since he was just 10 years old. However, it wasn't until 2007 that he acquired the original blueprints from Case and started to design the 150 into a three-dimensional CAD model which allowed him to produce the parts. For the next 10 years, Anderson and a team of volunteers worked at Dakota Foundry in Webster to cast the parts for the Case 150. When the parts were finally completed, he took the parts to Wyoming for assembly.
On the side, he was building a business to fund the estimated $1 million to $1.5 million project. "My dream was always to build this ever since I was a little boy. So, I knew that I had to have facilities and resources and the equipment and team to support doing something like that. So, I started Anderson Industries in my garage," says the president and CEO of this cutting-edge engineering and manufacturing company.
More than 8,000 hours later, the dream became a reality for Anderson and his team. "I mean, all the way from gathering information and the infrastructure to this and then the actual time machining the parts and putting it together," he says.
When Anderson debuted the Case 150 in September, he says the day was surreal.
"I drove the engine around we went down the parade route and had a ceremony where we got a picture of everybody who helped build the engine. We got a picture and then we went out to the plowing field and successfully pulled the 24 bottom John Deere plow, which was actually two plows hooked together."
He says the response to the restoration of the world's largest steam engine was overwhelming. "People came from all over the world to come and see the 150 Case born again."
According to Anderson, a modern-day tractor would be about a third of the torque and power of the 150. "I mean, just to give you an idea of the size of this tractor, it's about 15 feet wide, 14 feet tall and about 28 feet long and it weighs about 75,000 pounds fully loaded. So it's significantly more than the largest tractor that's built today, which the largest quad track is about 62,000 pounds."
While Anderson isn't sure if the Case 150 qualifies for the Guinness Book of World Records, the satisfaction of seeing his dream come to reality is enough for him.
"It's a little bit hard to comprehend. I mean it's something that was a dream for so long and something that you work on, you know, so hard and at some points you feel like it's like you're never going to see the end," he says.
More people will have the opportunity to see the Case 150 in the future. It will be at the James Valley Threshing Show the weekend after Labor Day in Andover and the show at Rollag, Minn., on Labor Day weekend.