In the late 19th and early 20th century, the steam engine was all the rage with farmers; steam tractors powered by these engines were used extensively in agricultural scenarios all over the world, ushering in a revolution of sorts and helping to provide an abundance of food in industrialized countries.
Their appearance is far closer to that of an old sewing machine than an engine as we know it, but without these machines the American economy may never have developed into the juggernaut it became during the 20th century.
At the Old Threshers Reunion in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, this Case steam engine-powered tractor hit the dyno — driving a belt rather than a set of tires — and, with its piston pumping away, turned in a respectable 16 horsepower figure when all was said and done. I like to think of it this way – that’s sixteen horses that the farmer who purchased this tractor didn’t have to feed and house year-round in order to keep his farm in order.
While it may not be the highest horsepower figure we’ve ever seen on the dyno, it’s not the lowest either. The familiar chug-chug-chug of the exhaust made me think about a steam locomotive, and the minute-plus I spent watching the video was mesmerizing, as the belts and pulleys and piston cranked away while the engine was doing its thing. It may not be a monster V8 engine making 1,000 horsepower, but without its development, that monster V8 may have never come to be. Even more importantly, the torque generated by these steam engines is massive. A fun video, and worth the watch just for nostalgia purposes. Enjoy!