1907 22 Horsepower Avery Contractors Special

descendants of Jerome DeBacker -- Boulder, CO

This "Contractors Special" Avery steam traction engine was built in 1907. It is a 22 horsepower, 2 cylinder undermounted engine. It is owned by descendants of Jerome DeBacker.

This engine was used around Mead, Co. until 1915 when it was purchased by Jerome DeBacker for use in threshing and plowing in the Boulder area.It was in considerable disrepair when purchased. Jerome completed many mechanical repairs before putting the engine in service. He also added some touches of his own including a Union Pacific bell and several whistles.

After repairs, it was used for threshing with an Avery 36 x 60 in. "Yellow Fellow" wooden separator around the East Boulder area until being retired around 1945. It was also used for plowing in the Bennett, Co. area, pulling a 12 bottom 14 inch plow. Jerome always regretted the fact that the plow was cut up for scrap during the war. We still have the separator. It was last used on the Stuart Anderson farm in 1976 to thresh wheat. During its time the Avery also ran a sawmill, pulled a scarifier for state road work, and provided steam for a chemical company near Valmont Butte.

In 1955 a group of steam enthusiasts in the Boulder- Denver area convinced Jerome to bring the engine out of retirement. It was cleaned up and minor repairs were made to get the engine operational. The boiler was retubed in 1957.

In 1959 the lugs were removed from drive wheels and it was driven into Boulder for the Colorado Centennial Pow Wow & Rodeo parade. It left the farm at 7 am, was driven into Boulder via Valmont Rd. and arrived just in time for the parade start. At the end of the parade we just kept on going, headed for home, and arrived home at 7 pm for a 12 hour round trip. Jerome's health was failing at this time, but he was able to ride the engine in the parade.

Jerome died in 1962, leaving the engine to his sons and grandsons. It has been a family project with several system overhauls including replumbing and repainting in the original style with the filigree work in 1989. After this overhaul, the family took the engine to the Boulder County Fair for the Yesteryear Show. The engine has been to the fair every year excepting 1996 when it was undergoing repair work. During the winter of 1997 and 1998 the dry pipe was replaced and a major clean up was done using a CO2 blast to take all the parts to bare metal. The crankshaft bearing was repoured and a general overhaul of mechanical parts was completed. This was all topped off with a complete new paint job with the filigree and insignia work verified by the remains found in stripping the engine. This was a major project with family members of all ages participating and with help from friends dedicated to steam preservation. We are now into the fourth generation of family learning the operation and repair of steam traction engines.