A BEAST THAT STILL SPEAKS

Roger Schuller and his four-man crew keep a 1934 125 HP Buckeye oil engine up and running


| February 2008



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Buckeye

Manufactured: Salem, Ohio
Horsepower: 125
Year: 1934
Length: 17 feet
Weight: 15 tons
Normal RPM: 200
Show RPM: 100
Bore: 19-inch
Stroke: 23-inch
Flywheel diameter: 78 inches
Notes: 2-cycle diesel with no valves; used a large water tank for coolant while in operation in grain elevator.

My father-in-law, John Nahrwold, told me he could hear the Buckeye on his farm 8 miles from Grabill, Ind.," says Roger Schuller, current owner of the 125 HP Buckeye oil engine. "When my father-in-law was in town he used to go down in the basement of the elevator and watch it run."

Every morning, from 1935 until 1947, the engine was started and run for the day and everyone in town must have heard it. Once in awhile, there would be a miss-fire and the engine would have a double load of fuel, and the windows in town would rattle when it fired again. The exhaust pipe was around 12 inches in diameter and went up to the height of the building. From there, the sound would travel for miles.

In 1935, a large fire destroyed the Grabill grain elevator. The owners wanted to rebuild immediately so they contracted with the Buckeye Engine Co. in Lima, Ohio, to buy the Buckeye, and a 440-volt generator. The flywheels, each weighing several tons, were shipped separately and installed on the engine after it had been mounted on the base. The engine and generator were used as the power source for the Grabill grain elevator, and a nearby small factory, from 1935 until 1947.

"The owner of the elevator told me that they had to stop using the engine after the governor went wild and the engine pulled out the bolts holding it to the floor," says Roger. "Since 440-volt electricity was available in town by that time, they decided not to repair the Buckeye. The elevator operator had felt that there was nothing much wrong with that engine, however, it was never used again and sat in the basement for 32 years gathering dust until 1979."

Rescuing the Buckeye

"My father-in-law had heard that the Buckeye engine was going to leave the town," says Roger, "so the four of us - my father-in-law, brother-in-law, my Dad and me - decided to buy it from the original owner. I knew the engine was big, but I was not prepared for what I saw walking down the steps into the basement for the first time. This was the biggest single-cylinder engine I had ever seen; the engine itself was 17 feet long and the two flywheels were 6 feet in diameter!" They completed the deal with the owner; he said he could only give a weekend in August to get it out because the Amish used the elevator to grind their feed and the move had to be completed by Monday morning.