Franklin Pierce

Harold Hohmann, left, and Ellsworth Olson hard at work.

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Sec.-Treas.Coulee Antique Engines, Inc., R. #3, Box 274, Westby, WI 54667

On April 9, 1988 an antique steam engine changed hands and became the property of the Coulee Antique Engine Club. The day was bright and sunny, just right to get everyone energetic and going. Fourteen members appeared on the scene and, with a lot of muscle and good planning, the work progressed and was completed by 2:30 p.m.

The members present were: Pres. Willie Bakkestuen, Vice-Pres. Forrest Jensen, Sec.-Treas. & photographer Wilmer Homstad, Director Jim Ziegler and these members: Gerald Johnson, Ellsworth Olson, John Wangen and his young son, Anthony, Roy Torgerson, Harold Hohmann, Richie Hohmann, Robert Jothen, Al Petrazoli, and the generous owner and donor of the engine, Mr. Dave Pertzsch of Onalaska.

The engine is a Franklin Pierce horizontal with a six-foot diameter flywheel. It was located in Onalaska, WI in a former pickle factory, originally a brewery. At this time we haven't been able to determine when the engine was installed but it probably was put in at the time the brewery building was constructed (about 1902). It ran a lengthy jack shaft two floors up by a 12' wide flat belt. The engine was on the ground level floor so that made it easier to get to. Actually, the engine had been dismounted and moved to another part of the building. The first task of the crew was to get the flywheel, shaft, and eccentric, which were still mounted in the original position, the flywheel on one side of a stone dividing wall, the shaft extending through the wall to the eccentric.

Our master mechanic, Gerald Johnson, had provided us with all the necessary tools and with his good advice we proceeded to shine up the stub of the shaft, grind off a bit of the upset end and start the proceedings. We had a good stout hydraulic and a good chain, so that once we put pressure on the end of the shaft, presto! it moved. Not fast, but slow and sure we were able to 'punch' the shaft out of the flywheel. Lucky for us we had a handy large 'A' frame that we moved into position, carried the shaft and eccentric and very easily loaded it into our waiting pick-up.

Moving the flywheel very carefully with come-alongs both fore and aft we got it out of its location onto the floor, through a door and supported by the 'A' frame. We then moved it with a large end loader, donated for our use by Domke Cons. Co. and were able to take it to a convenient scale and weight it. It tipped the scales at 1,960 lbs.

It all sounds so easy when one sits down to account for the work done, but all of you know that heavy iron is no joke and takes planning, good management and a measure of luck. We had all of these ingredients, no one got hurt and no one overworked, all in all it was a very successful day.

From this point on things went easy. We loaded the engine into a pick-up and laid the 6' flywheel flat on a trailer and so were able to transport them both with our own equipment. We moved them about 6 miles for temporary storage, along with 2 Worthington and 1 Fairbanks Morse steam water pumps which later will be installed in a Club building.

The club would like to hear from anyone who has information on a Franklin Pierce horizontal steam engine.