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Boehler to showcase vintage steam engine

Courtesy Photo Roger Boehler drives his 1914 Case steam engine through the farmyard south of Golden Valley in this undated photo.

Roger Boehler, who farms south of Golden Valley, is powering up his 1914 Case steam engine this week for inspection before bringing it to the Good Ol' Taylor Days.

The machine is patterned after a locomotive boiler and weighs approximately 12½ tons. It's run by wood or coal.

"It takes about an hour to build up steam in the boiler before its ready to operate it," he said.

Before Boehler can demonstrate the steam boiler, it must be reviewed by the North Dakota state boiler inspector.

"It's inspected with ultrasound readings on the boiler itself," he said. "My gauges and pressure-release valves will be tested. It will pass, it's in good shape."

Boheler has a hobby boiler operator's license and the boiler is registered with the state of North Dakota.

Boehler said similar steam engines can be seen at threshing shows throughout the state and United States.

"I was interested in them as a young child and they always got my attention and kept me daydreaming," he said. "I got involved and it's been a lot of fun and always will be."

At one time, Boehler owned 85 vintage tractors and held threshing demonstrations on the farm.

"We had a big sale and sold most of them," he said. "It was getting to be too much work to take care of them. I kept my favorites."

He hasn't operated the steam engine in two years and is looking forward to the opportunity to power it up again.

Boehler will operate the steam engine with wood rather than coal.

"Good coal is hard to find anymore," he said. "It needs a hot, quick fire and it goes out rather quickly where coal lingers."

Pioneer farmers used the steam engines to plow or run the threshing machines. The grain bundles would be brought in from the fields with horse-drawn wagons. When the roads came through, the engines pulled the road equipment. In some areas, the engines powered the saw mills, he said.

Boehler and a friend will operate the machine for the demonstration -- one as the engineer and the other as the fireman.

He's participated in the Taylor show in recent years, and looks forward to the showcasing the steam engine.

"It's something fun to do, other than the normal daily life and it's also a good exercise to keep my engine up," he said.