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Self-Taught Machinist Makes Scale-Model Steam Engines
As the fourth child in a hard-working Minnesota family, Rich Dosdall says family rules dictated that, after school, the kids went to their dadís implement shop and worked. He eventually developed his mechanical skills while experimenting with his dadís tools. ďAt first, it was little projects like model airplanes, then woodworking and even repairing and building clocks.Ē In high school, he learned how to operate a lathe, a milling machine, a welder, and how to cast, which widened his project horizons.
ďAs a senior, I set my sights on owning a steam engine, but that required more money than I had. While attending steam threshing shows, I met a man whoíd built a scale model Case steam engine. Heíd made patterns from wood, so I asked him if I could use them. He obliged. During shop class, I used those to pour brass castings for the engine, so I could get it done before I graduated.Ē
To produce other parts, Dosdall needed a vertical mill, which he bought used at a bargain price because the motor was noisy. After getting it home, he quickly learned that the noise was just a drawbar flipping around, and with that corrected, the mill was like new. Always a multi-tasker, Dosdall needed 2 years to complete the model steam engine while working on antique tractors, which he entered in pulling contests. Over the next decade, Dosdall restored several tractors and steam engines, including a rare 1911 15-hp. Case, a full-size version of his model replica. Another project, a 1924 17-30 cross-motor Minneapolis, was his and his wife Jillís drive-away vehicle on their wedding day. For a change of pace, he and Jill built their own log home a year after they were married.
Still interested in steam engines, Dosdall bought castings for a scale Burrell, an English steam engine, and built it out. It required nearly 7 years from concept to completion. Next was a scale model 65-hp. Case steam engine with original patterns made by Ralph Endres of Proctor, Minn. That model required 5 years from plans to completion. He later built every part for a 1/2 scale model 1655 Oliver tractor over several years, which was featured in Farm Show (Vol. 44, No. 1).
Dosdall is now retired from his postal service day job and still building. His equipment lineup includes a CNC mill, a CNC lathe, four specialized lathes, a shear, a 40-ton hydraulic press, gear shapers, and welders.
With an impressive list of meticulous projects to his name, Dosdall is quick to mention that ďI was brought up to do the best quality work on every job, no matter what it was. My standards have always been high, and attention to detail is very important. Hopefully, the younger generation can keep this motto going.Ē
Dosdall says, ďThe younger generation these days has no clue what it takes to make something like I do. Some donít have the opportunity, and many donít want to. Iíve been mentoring my son-in-law Kyle Engesser for the past two years on how to make patterns for castings and use my equipment so he can continue this kind of work after Iím gone. Iím trying to teach him as much as I can, and now Kyle is on his second engine, doing excellent work.Ē
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Rich Dosdall, Red Wing, Minn. (mailman50@hughes.net).


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2023 - Volume #47, Issue #4