Grandfather’s Engine Made of Cornstalks

By Staff
article image
Mr. (Perry) Vandeveer and his 'cornstalk engine.'

26 Pineview Drive Henrico, North Carolina 27842`

While cleaning out some of my family’s old trunks I was
pleased to find some old newspaper clippings.

Being an old iron collector and subscriber to GEM, I felt that
these clippings might be of interest to other readers.

I can remember when I was a young man hearing my family talk
about Grandpa’s hobby but never had the pleasure of seeing
anything but these newspaper clippings.

I am curious as to the outcome of the models my grandfather
made. I would like to hear from someone in Louisville, Illinois,
who could tell me if they still exist and if the Public Library is
still there. 

The following text comes from a clipping from the Louisville,
Illinois Evening News. The exact date is unknown.

‘A tappet valve, marine type engine, which works by
compressed air, made entirely of cornstalks, has been presented to
the museum at the Louisville Free Library by Perry Vandeveer, 817
Fehr Avenue, who labored for 640 hours during his spare time in
1926, 1927 and 1928 to perfect the novel piece of machinery.

‘The engine, for which a glass case is being arranged in the
library, is twenty-two inches long, twenty inches wide and sixteen
inches high. The cylinders have a one and three-fourths inch bore
and a three and five-eighth inch stroke. The machine contains more
that 8,000 pieces of glued and pinned cornstalks, more than 1,500
pieces of which are in the flywheel.

‘A table knife was the only tool used by Mr. Vandeveer.
Making articles of cornstalks has been his hobby since boyhood, he
explained. He has two other machines and a model for an automobile
clutch which he constructed with similar material. The engine
donated to the museum was made entirely of stalks Mr. Vandeveer
selected from three crops of corn in a Salt River bottom near the
bridge at Shepherdsville, some of which measured fourteen inches
between joints.’

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