The Good Little Double Keck
Postscript by Stephen W. Dunn Rt 1, Box 1501 Jennings, Oklahoma
Keck-Gonnerman No. 1636, 20 HP double rear mount at Pawnee in
1989. Case separator. Steve Dunn steering/owner, Glenn Whitman,
engineer. Engine is in its work clothes.
My 20 HP double rear mounted Keck-Gonnerman #1636 was
manufactured in 1922. V.B. & W.H. Davenport ordered this engine
November 15, 1921. It was shipped to Brown Station, Missouri on
April 25,1922. The engine has 6 ' x 12' cylinders, 44'
flywheel, Pickering governor, eccentric plunger pump and a #1 US
injector. The drive wheels are cast 74' in diameter and 20'
wide with detachable cleats. The boiler is a 47 tube butt strap
made by Brennan (Ohio Standard #110).
Sam Myers of Brookville, Ohio and Joe Park of Princeton,
Wisconsin helped me with the history of this engine. It looks like
#1636 was built in the transition period between the 20 HP 52 tube
lap joint boiler and the 47 tube butt strap as used on the 22 HP
engines. I wish to thank Sam and Joe for their help.
We never knew much about Keck engines in Oklahoma. I never heard
of a Keck, at least in this part of the state. I got #1636 from the
Ed Peacock estate at Fulton, Missouri in 1963.
I can remember two very impressive pulls #1636 has made in
traction. The first one was the day we fired it up to load on a
truck at Fulton. Jim Peacock asked us to pull a 20 HP Reeves up a
very steep bank so they could load it. The Reeves had been sitting
in this low place for years. We got a large chain and hooked onto
the Reeves. We soon found out that the drivers on the Reeves would
not turn. It took about 165 lbs. on the Keck to drag the Reeves up
this bank with the wheels on the Reeves sliding.
Then in 1975 we moved several old tractors about two miles. A
little over one half mile was across a wheat field. This wheat
field wasn't real solid, as it was in November and had new
wheat growing on it.
The tractors we were moving belonged to Lyman Knapp. Lyman had
sold me the round top barn on the north side of the section. He had
built a new storage barn on the south side of the section.
We planned this move for some time. The wheat was all planted
and I had returned from the custom harvest. We invited in several
collector friends and all was ready.
November 1976: 1636 pulling 35 HP Advance and 40 HP Reeves. John
Yonkman engineer, Chady Atteberry, steering. Engine now owned by
The main power was to be Lyman's 30-60 Aultman & Taylor
tractor. I had fired up the Keck just for the trip then we would
return with it to my barn. The 30-60 Aultman & Taylor was going
to pull Lyman's 35 HP tandem compound Advance and his 40 HP
Reeves gas tractor. I was going to pull two smaller old Allis
tractors. Lyman's 30-60 Aultman is a good puller. I've seen
it start 10 plows in stubble and walk off real nice, but this load
was too much for it. The 30-60 would move the load but the engine
was pulled clear down. It wasn't that the 30-60 wouldn't
pull, we have movies of it slipping the drivers starting this load
out in the road. It was just overloaded, so we put the Keck on in
the tractor's place. I didn't really know how it would do,
as I knew Lyman's 30-60 was a good puller.
The Keck walked off real nice with the load. I couldn't
believe how nice #1636 handled this load. John Younkman from
Newton, Kansas was the engineer. I steered the engine. In my books,
John is a very good engineer. He knew how to pull an engine under a
heavy load. I don't believe the steam pressure varied much over
five pounds in the two mile pull. John kept it between 160 and 165
lbs. Crossing the wheat field the Keck was real busy.
After turning off the road into the wheat field John stopped the
Keck., We talked things over. The engines were cutting in about
four or five inches in the soft wheat field. The chain from Keck to
Advance and the one from Advance to Reeves 40 had no slack. John
had 160 lbs. on the old Keck. He put the reverse in the corner and
opened the throttle. The Keck walked off with this load. That day
#1636 impressed several good steam men.
I've heard my dad and several other old time steam men say
that a double would not start as heavy a load as a single. This may
be true, but it would be hard to tell the men that saw #1636 start
this load in soft ground.
I own a 20-75 double rear mounted Nichols & Shepard and have
run other makes of double rear mounted engines. I would say that
the double rear mounted Keck is the best designed for the engineer.
You can see off the engine the best of any double rear mount
I've run. It is also real nice to fire. The entire engine is
well designed. I like the Miller valve gear. It has large joints
and runs in a straight line. It doesn't twist, shake, or jump
like some gears I've seen. The balanced valves Keck used were
extra good. It's a balanced 'D' valve and the best type
for traction engines. It has the advantages of a 'D' valve
and yet is balanced. Reeves also used this type of valve.
One day I was visiting with Ivan Burns, president of Oklahoma
Steam Threshers. I told Ivan that there was no reason to take my 65
Case to Pawnee as there were already three 65's there. There
was a nice 20-75 Nichols & Shepard and also a good double Keck.
After thinking a minute Ivan said 'Chady, as good an engine as
the double Kecks are, it wouldn't hurt to have two at our
show.' Ivan also thinks a lot of Keck engines. He owns a 20 HP
double rear mount and a 19 HP single side mount.
#1636 has been a pleasure to own and run. It has made several
friends in Oklahoma.
As a post script to this story I will add the following. In
December of 1987 I indirectly acquired the double Keck from Chady.
The story of this trade between four good friends would make a good
story and may be told in a future article. Anyway, since that time
I have put brand new tubes in the boiler, put new piping on and
reconditioned the original valves. The engine has gotten new piston
rings and has had the piston rods and valve rods chromed. I have
also rebuilt the feed water plunger pump, governor, and lubricator.
As of this writing I have not yet started the fancying up with
paint etc.. The old Keck is still in its work clothes.
I am rather new to this hobby, having only gotten interested in
1982. I became active with Oklahoma Steam Threshers in 1986. In my
own case it seems that steam had skipped a generation. My
grandfather, Louis Detmer, was an active steam man from the late
1890s to 1947. He owned Gaar Scott and C. Aultman engines, and his
last engine was an 18 HP double rear mounted Keck, No. 1410. He was
an active thesherman and sawyer in Franklin County, Missouri, near
In closing, I'll add that I recently got a Keck-Gonnerman 36
x 60 Indiana Special wooden separator and hope to thresh with this
outfit sometime in the future.