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Queen Masters Antique Steam Machines
As a young child, Lilly Wahl took naps on the water tank of the 1921 Farquhar that her father Mike Wahl was restoring. At 9, she stood on blocks of wood to drive it with his help. Now, at 20, Wahl knows how to stoke the fire, inject water, lubricate the engine, and operate a steam engine all on her own. Her passion and involvement in shows and steam engine education earned her the title of Queen of Steam at the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion from 2019-2021.
    Wahl and her sister, Maddy, run the Farquhar at the Baraboo, Wis., show while their father helps run a sawmill. They’re also involved in shows and associations in their home state (Wisconsin), as well as shows in other states.
    “I joke that I have five dads and 20 uncles. Because of steam engines, I grew up with them, and there’s a special bond,” Wahl says.
    In working with other steam engine enthusiasts, she has a deep respect for how technology has made work simpler as well as how people in the past made equipment with limited resources.
    “A group of us are restoring a 35-hp. Minneapolis and we have to remake parts. How did they do it (in the past)? How did they cast these and put them together?” she wonders.
    As a college junior, she realizes that she has gained many hands-on life skills because of her lifelong work with steam engines. If she could figure out a way to combine her business management degree with steam, it would be a dream job, she says.
    “My passion is the educational components,” Wahl notes. “One of my favorite parts is interacting with visitors so they know what they are looking at.”
    She encourages kids and people of all ages to go to steam schools such as the ones offered in Wisconsin and Minnesota. She credits the Minnesota Ladies of Steam (FARM SHOW Vol. 45, No. 2) for inspiring women to take an interest in steam.
    People are also interested when they see how the equipment was used through demonstrations at shows of the old equipment threshing grain in the field or sawing lumber, for example.
    “I plan to continue to go to shows and (in the future) bring my own kids to shows to experience it through their eyes,” she says. “There’s always a list of projects to work on.”
    FARM SHOW Followup, Lilly Wahl (lillywahl27@gmail.com); or Wisconsin Historical Steam Engine Association (www.whsea.org); or Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion (www.rollag.com).

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2023 - Volume #47, Issue #3