The Beckman Mill’s ‘New’ Titan 10-20

By Staff
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The Beckman Mill's 1920 International Harvester Titan 10-20 tractor, minus its engine.
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Dick Alcock and Paul Newton led the restoration of the engine, which now powers the millstone.
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The full restored Titan engine is bolted to a solid concrete base and rests on a reproduced portion of the original tractor frame.

2274 W. Leland Avenue #3W, Chicago, Illinois 60625

Restored to its 1920 appearance, the Beckman Mill operates as a
functioning mill museum near Beloit, Wisconsin. The Titan engine is
housed in the shed addition behind the larges sliding door.

What are you going to do with that rusty old thing?

Many visitors to the Beckman Mill near Beloit, Wisconsin,
looking at the hulk of a 1920 International Harvester Titan 10-20
tractor hardly believed it was even worth its weight as scrap.
However, in keeping with the tradition of rebuilding things that
‘can’t be rebuilt,’ the restoration crew of the Friends
of Beckman Mill has returned the engine to fine running

William How built his mill west of Beloit in 1868 to grind grain
for area farmers. In 1882 German-born August Beckman became the
miller, followed by his sons Henry and Charlie Beckman. The mill
operated until Charlie closed it down in 1954- Rock County
purchased the property in 1978 for use as a park with the intent of
restoring the mill, but no funds were available. Alarmed at the
building’s deteriorating condition, a group of local residents,
history buffs, and Beckman family members formed the Friends of
Beckman Mill, Inc. as a non-profit group in 1990. They set to work
returning the mill to its 1920s condition, the era when the
Beckmans’ business was at its peak. A dedicated crew of
volunteers did much of the restoration work themselves. Today the
group operates the mill as a working museum, grinding with the same
stones used since 1868. Interestingly, those French buhr stones
were imported by the Edward P. Allis Company of Milwaukee-the
forerunner to Allis Chalmers.

Turbines originally powered the millstones and machinery. By the
1920s, though, the Beckman Mill installed a one cylinder
Fairbanks-Morse ‘N’ stationary engine to supply auxiliary
power for grinding. It was needed in times of drought or flood,
when there wasn’t enough head of water to run the turbines.
When the ‘N’ wore out, it was replaced with an engine
removed from a Titan 10-20.

International Harvester produced over 78,000 of these tractors
between 1915 and 1922. The two cylinder, 530 cubic inch engine had
a 6? inch bore and an 8-inch stroke, with ten horsepower at the
drawbar and twenty at the belt pulley. The list price for a new
Titan in 1920 was $900.

From the beginning, the Friends of Beckman Mill planned to
operate with waterpower using the rebuilt turbines once a new dam
was in place (reconstruction of the dam began in the fall of 1999).
However, they were keeping an eye out for an authentic auxiliary
power source to run the millstones in the meantime. The Friends
then got a lead on an old Titan 10-20-the same model the Beckmans
had used decades earlier-at the annual Rock River Thresheree near
Janesville, Wisconsin, held every Labor Day weekend. Restoration
crew chief Bob Fosler relates, ‘When we told a guy what kind of
engine the mill used to have, he said, ‘I know where you can
find one of those. Tractor collectors have been after him for
years, but he doesn’t want to sell to a private individual.
Your group just might have a shot at it, though.’ We decided to
give it a try.’

The group was able to acquire the ‘new’ tractor for $700
from a farmer near Mount Carroll, Illinois, in April, 1996. Built
in 1920, its serial number is TV48173. It sat rusting in the field
where it had broken down years before. The water tank was corroding
away, the cam gear was missing teeth, and the wheel rims were
nearly a foot deep in mud. Nonetheless, it was a thing of beauty to
Paul Newton and Dick Alcock, who led the restoration of the engine.
After hauling the tractor to the mill and pulling the engine off
the frame, work began in 1997. Not a few people expressed
skepticism that the engine would ever run again. ‘It looked
pretty rough,’ says Paul, ‘but it really wasn’t in that
bad a shape.’ Nevertheless, it needed complete rebuilding.
‘You wouldn’t believe the muck that came out of that
thing!’ Paul remembers.

The restoration crew used copies of an original Titan operating
manual to aid in the rebuilding and to help in identifying parts.
‘When you do this kind of work, you’ve got to keep
everything,’ stresses Dick. The engine didn’t require any
especially major repairs, but a lot of components needed attention.
New teeth were brazed to the damaged cam gear, a new water tank was
constructed from a pump housing, and new valves were made from
scratch. The carburetor, oiler, governor, and fuel pump-‘just a
chunk of rust’ as Paul describes it-all had to be substantially

Painted in its original gray color, with authentic decals, the
restored Titan engine rests on a new concrete pad in the engine
room of the Beckman Mill. It is connected to a new separate fuel
reservoir and runs on gasoline, exhaust fumes are piped outside.
The engine sits adjacent to a slot in the floor, which provided
room for a belt to connect the pulley to an outside driveshaft.
This horizontal shaft re-enters the mill, engages a beveled gear
with wooden teeth, and transfers power to a vertical shaft, from
which the millstone is run.

The engine was fired up in its new home for the first time on
May 7, 1998, amidst much exhaust smoke and many grins. The mill
ground again that fall for the first time in forty-four years. The
Titan runs smoothly, in fact, a nickel balanced edgewise on the
head will remain standing even when the engine is started up. A few
items still needed work, though. In 1999, Dick Alcock fabricated a
new pair of spark plugs from scratch, modeled after the originals,
to help the engine run even better. The clutch drum was removed
early this year upon the discovery of a large crack in the casting.
Using this as a pattern, the group cast an entirely new part
identical to the original (minus the flaw).

The Beckman Mill and its restored Titan 10-20 engine offers
visitors a chance to step back into the past and experience the
sights and sounds and smells of another time. The hard work put in
by the restoration crew is rewarded by the look of fascination on
people’s faces when the old engine comes to life and once again
powers the mill-and it doesn’t take much arm twisting to
convince the guys to fire her up!

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