• If you like antique engines, vintage tractors or old iron machinery, register and join us. When you register on Smokstak, please give complete answers and fill in all blanks. IF YOU ARE ON WIRELESS OR SATELLITE, GIVE YOUR CITY AND STATE! NO ZIPCODES! All registrations are manually approved.

What trailer(s) can haul a 1911 45hp CASE steam engine? What trailer is best?


Here's the long and short of the story...

Back in the day, my grandfather bought a 1911 CASE steam traction engine. (Self-propelled) He used it on the farm until he sold the farm, and after that, the engine was still being used at the local antique power show until it wore out a bushing.

The bushing is in the clutch assembly, and the flywheel has to come off in order to replace the bushing. We don't have anything ​strong enough to support the flywheel, so the old steamer just sits in the back lawn, waiting for "that day" when someone will care enough to do something with it.

The family has no interest in selling the steamer, and it seems that no one locally is willing to haul it anywhere to be repaired unless we sell it to them.

I'm tired of seeing this beautiful piece of family history just sit in the yard and rust. I want to take the engine to a shop for repairs. And once it's repaired, I want to use it both for farm use again, and at shows.

Unfortunately, I don't currently have a trailer to haul the thing, and I don't know enough to decide what trailer I need. Here is what I do know. Dad owns a 1948 Chevrolet 5 ton truck. The truck is in serious need of repair or replacement (because like the steamer, it's been sitting unused and not cared about for over 20 years) I know that Dad will be willing to sell the truck. Or, if the truck can be repaired, that would be even better.

So, now we get to the questions. First, even if the Chevy is fixed, is a 1948 5-ton truck strong enough to pull a 7+ton (when empty) steam engine plus trailer?
Second, if the truck is strong enough, what type of trailer is recommended? Bear in mind that we live in South West Wisconsin, where the area has many hills and valleys. (That will probably change whether or not the truck is strong enough.) I remember when we brought our engine to the show, a house hauling company would load our steamer onto a large trailer that had a large main bed and a higher small bed above the 5th wheel hitch. I don't remember the width of the trailer, but I do remember that they were able to load the engine pretty easily. I think they used a winch, but more for convenience than for safety. It took about 2-3 hours for our engine to build up enough steam to run on its own power.

Third question: If a 1948 5-ton isn't enough truck, what is? :shrug:

Mike McKnight

Last Subscription Date
If all you want to do is haul the steamer occasionally, you're probably better off just paying to get it hauled than to try to fix up a 1948 truck to make it really safe to haul it with. Or, maybe just go ahead and fix the steamer short term, fix the truck longterm?

As far as not having anything heavy enough to move the flywheel, I think you're greatly underestimating what it would take to move it. As far as picking it up, I picked mine up with a two-ton engine hoist and mounted it on my 60 HP Case. Not the optimal set up, but it can be done! Biggest hurdle would be to pull the gib key and get the flywheel to move off of the shaft, especially if it has been grown on there since 1911.



This is a textbook perfect example of a situation where hiring a qualified professional is called for. There are so many things that can go wrong at every step of the process, this site doesn't have enough electrons to list them all. And in addition to wrecking your old machine, it's easy to envision mishaps that could seriously injure or kill someone, either you or some unfortunate who has the bad luck to be around as you are trying to navigate the roads you describe.

The very questions you ask and ideas you suggest offer proof that you don't have an idea what you are getting yourself into. First off, I have never seen any Chevy "5 ton" trucks of anything approaching that vintage. The Chevys were at best a two ton and were grossly underpowered at that. And getting it going, replacing the brakes and tires, hoping the engine will run, and run for as long as you need it, converting the truck over to 12v so you can hook up a trailer brake controller, lights, wipers, parking brake, adding a hitch that's up to the task, you're already in way over your head money wise, and all you have is a truck that you'll be running up (and down) those hills in first gear at 5MPH, to the absolute delight of everyone behind you, especially the cop who pulls you over.

Plates, insurance, and maybe $5K for a decent trailer, and you're still a guy who in all probability does not have the requisite skills to break that machine loose from its resting pace of decades, load it properly onto an appropriate trailer, secure it safely and legally, then drive the thing to where it has to go. Just fill a bushel basket with cash and wave it at some local contractor or trucking company and you'll be way ahead of the game. He'll probably charge less than the cost of the tickets you will accumulate on this adventure. And if you can't or won't do that, just leave the engine where it is and do something else.


Last Subscription Date
7 tons = 14,000 lbs, so at an absolute minimum you are talking about a trailer with GVWR of 18,000 Lbs, and long enough to fit that engine, so probably a 30 ft'r. To pull that any new 1 ton chevy/ford/dodge diesel truck. And you will need to have a CDL to haul a load that heavy. If you are not driving a truck like that already you are probably better of paying someone to haul it.

Call any local heavy haul towing company and say "its not for sale, I want it delivered to X address" and hand over the cash. Have you found someone qualified to fix it? If so they probably know someone that can haul it.

You do realize those things are money pits?


In Memory Of
Last Subscription Date
Most of the traction engine owners/operators in the UK either have their own haulage company to borrow a truck and low-loader semi from, or bring in a specialist to do it for them.

Same with repairs, boiler work etc, there are established specialists who service this relatively small market.



I already have a CDL. (Class B, but I can upgrade to Class A easily enough. The main differences are that you have a trailer and you have to take the turns wider. Yes, there's more weight when loaded also. My current Class B CDL has Air Brake, Passenger, and School Bus endorsements, and right now I have an automatic transmission restriction. But, I do know how to use a clutch.)

I don't need anyone to tell me that I'm foolish for trying. I need information, but I am quite capable of doing this. I just need to know if a 5 ton truck can pull the load. I'll have Dad verify that it's actually a 5 ton truck before I even consider using it. The truck used to have a wooden cage on the back, but that's so rotted it won't be difficult to remove. Then it's simply a matter of bolting on some plate steel to hold the hitch plate for the 5th wheel. And like I said, that's all only if the truck is worth using to begin with. I would rather just sell the truck and use something else, but I don't own the truck. Nor do I own the steamer yet. Everything is in Dad's name, so he makes the decisions.

As far as waving a bucket of cash at a hauling company, that could be a one-time thing, but I don't want to do that every time we move the engine. Dad owns two properties, and we will probably transport the engine between them every year. I don't want to hire a company to do that for us annually.

As for actually loading the engine and "breaking it free," I'm not too concerned about that either. Every year since it was parked, I have gone out and manually cycled the engine several cycles. I turned the flywheel by hand about three strokes of the engine every season. I know that the mechanical parts are all free on the engine. I don't have the strength to turn the flywheel with the drive wheels engaged, so the hubs might give a little trouble, but they were always properly greased, so I'm not too worried about that.

The biggest problem I anticipate when loading the engine is the fact that the rear wheels have sunk down about 6 inches. I've kept the soil from getting into the wheels, but they have made a bit of a rut to pull it out of.

As for going down the road, the engine is parked on property next to a county highway, so the road can support the load. There are no bridges between the property and the nearest Federal highway. Also, there aren't any major hills between the property and the Federal highway.

So, I go back my original questions. What trailer do I need, and is a 5 ton truck enough to pull it? (Thank you Dalmatiangirl for the weight information. I'm really looking for a trailer type recommendation. Is a low trailer with a removable gooseneck the best type? Or what else works well? I saw someone else asking (and receiving the scorn of some members here) about using the frame from an old trailer house. That seems a little flimsy to me, but if it works, we have a trailer house where the house part is already falling apart. I'd be happy to scrap it out to use as a hauling trailer, even if I need to buy new wheels and tires.

For a shop, I'm thinking about Lund Machine Works out in Iowa.

---------- Post added at 09:13:24 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:51:21 AM ----------

Oops. Lund Machine Works is in Minnesota, not Iowa. Where is that edit button?


The first question. Will the 1948 Chevy pull the loaded trailer?
The truck is capable of carrying 5 tons, but Chevy called it a 2 Ton. Dual wheels, 4-speed tranny, 2-speed axle, and a 90 HP six cylinder engine. Either manual or vacuum assist brakes, manual steering, 6-volt electrical system, top speed (empty) around 45MPH. The truck is strong enough to pull the load, but very slowly; not at today's highway speeds. I drove one of these hauling lumber on a Nabors 30' flatbed trailer in the 1950's. Grinding over hills on the old two lane highways at 10 MPH with the pedal on the floor was pretty standard for trucks in that era, but they got the job done. Bear in mind that pulling a trailer is easy. Controlling the trailer at speed is a much tougher problem.

Which brings us to the second question. What kind of trailer?
Definitely not a house trailer chassis. Everything about it is too light duty. Tires, axles, brakes, springs, frame. If you hitch a trailer close to the rear wheels, a ball hitch or a pintle hitch can work, but a gooseneck or fifth wheel would be better. There are lots of trailers available with the correct weight rating, but the most important thing is brakes, brakes, brakes. You'd need to convert the Chevy to a heavy duty 12 volt electrical system, or go with air brakes.

If you want to restore the old Chevy for nostalgic reasons I get that, but it will be very expensive. From a practical standpoint, I'd just buy a more modern, used truck.

Another option is to set up a trailer suited to your needs; tie downs, ramps, winch, whatever, and hire a truck to pull it for you. If you only need an occasional pull, this might be cheaper than maintaining a full-time truck. Here's one company in Indiana that does that: http://www.trailershippers.com/

Ken Majeski

Last Subscription Date
I pulled my Case engine (late 40 boiler and rest of it 45 HP) on a tri axle 20,000 pound gooseneck with a 7.5 liter (460 CU) 96 Ford F 250. It handled well but was short on power on the hills. Then I got 96 Dodge 2500 with the Cummins and I could get somewhere :)

I then pulled my 30 Case around behind the 2500 Dodge with a Tandem axle 16,000 pound trailer. Now I got a 3500 Dually so I should be able to use a nicer camper. Both engines are Bobtail versions. The 30 will fit between the wheel wells of a heavy duty car hauler/equipment trailer.

Having said that If your engine has contractors bunkers it will weigh more and require a larger trailer. At least a 12 ton tandem axle Dually trailer. If you transplant a 12 valve Cummins with a 5 or 6 speed tranny into your 48 Chevy and slide the fuel plate a little you will have enough power :D I would FORGET about House Trailer axles to haul ANY Steam Engine.


I like oldstuff

Last Subscription Date
Pulling a load is relatively easy. Stopping it is a whole new ball game. I wouldn't even consider the antique stuff to tow it as brakes were an afterthought back then. Besides, with that big of a load you're only going to be going 20-30 mph. I see a Peterbilt in your future.

On second thought, insurance, licensing and maintenance of an occasional use big truck is painful. Much less where do you store it.
Pick up the phone and call someone to cart your toy around. Write a check and be done with it.

Ken Majeski

Last Subscription Date
Who's talking about a 110 Case ?:confused: :bonk: I think somebody has their threads mixed up.

The 45 Case is a little over 14,000 pounds dry. And I have found the factory weights pretty close on the smaller engines.

14,000 for the engine and about 6,000 for the trailer adds up to 20,000 in range or a 12 ton gooseneck. The trailer has it's own brakes and also the truck has it's own brakes.

It's pretty easy to tell some of them people that replied never had a CDL or hauled a steam engine.
Last edited:

slip knot

Last Subscription Date
We haul backhoes on a tandem duals gooseneck trailer with a 1ton truck. This 14k isn't any different weight wise.


Last Subscription Date
14K isn't something I'd be comfortable with being hauled on a pintle hitch trailer. The aforementioned 1-ton dually and gooseneck trailer would be just fine but hilly terrain might make me want a couple more wheels on the ground and a bit more weight for a pulling unit.


Last Subscription Date
It's pretty easy to tell some of them people that replied never had a CDL or hauled a steam engine.
I don't know about the other posters, but I used to have a cdl and my own cabover rig, still have the bad knees to prove it:D. You are right on never having hauled a steam engine though.


In any case he's really needing a 1 ton truck from the past 5-10 years at most. Older trucks just were not designed for it. I have a 1996 1 ton dually chevy with a 454, only rated for a 10k trailer! A new Toyota Tundra is good for 10,500 pounds.... His old truck would be a joke for anything more then local hauls. It would be cool to have it set up and take the tractor between properties or to the local show grounds-but to go interstate with it-kinda nuts. It would need to be completely gone through-engine, brakes, steering, all need to be up to like new condition. Like one poster said, in that time, it was normal to bang it into 1st gear and chug up a hill at a fast walk. Still a lot faster then a horse.

One option is to rent the equipment. There are places near me that will rent you a semi and trailer. Not sure what is involved tho, might be hard for a individual to get the paperwork together to make it happen....

Bill Hazzard

Last Subscription Date
In answer to your question, yes the 5 ton GMC will be able to haul the load, it will be very slow though. I have a Ford brochure from the same year and the F-8 with a 145 HP engine has a gross combined vehicle weight of 37,000 pounds. Maximum grade in first gear at 37K is 22 percent, maximum grade in high gear and low range on the rear axle the max grade is 2 percent. The F-7 trucks are same HP and combination, single speed rear axle and GVW is 32,500, first gear grade is 16 percent, high gear is 1.6 percent.

Obviously you will need to make sure the engine is running correctly and the cooling system is perfect and the brakes are rebuilt and install new tires.
Any trailer that is long enough and has a pair of 10K axles will work. Does the truck have air brakes? If so then a 20K tag along trailer will work, if not then it will not be easy to make a trailer with electric brakes work with a truck with a 6 volt system although you could use a 12V battery with a small generator and battery charger to work the brake system.

If you are only going a few miles and don't mind not going over 25 MPH then the truck will be fine, if going a hundred miles then you should have a modern truck.


Thanks to everyone for all of the great replies. I appreciate everyone's input. For what it's worth, the steepest grade in my area is about 7%. But, there are many hills at that grade.

I never imagined that a mid 90s/late 90s dually could pull/stop that much weight. I knew they can pull a lot because I used to work for a carnival, and their duallys hauled all the game and concession wagons.

As far as the old 5 ton, how much would be involved to convert it to 12V? I'm picturing a battery, alternator, lights, and...what? I'm guessing that it already has a generator instead of a magneto, but I'm not sure. Honestly, I've never opened the hood.

I'm not sure air brakes even existed on trucks back then, (other​ than 18 wheelers) but I would prefer to upgrade the system to have air brakes, rather than restoring whatever hydraulic system it had originally.


Last Subscription Date
If you want to convert it to air brakes, find a donor truck with trailer brake plumbing (an old tractor?). I did it with an IH Loadstar using an old Loadstar school bus as a donor, had to add the trailer plumbing myself, not hard, but a lot of work. You need to change both axles unless you find a donor with the same axles, unlikely with your current truck.


Last Subscription Date
pretty sure if that had air brakes,, you would have to redo them to current specs, can springs ,auto slack adjusters ect...

BEST BET go to a few shows and see what others are using , and of course only the ones doing it right .. and you can network with others on your plans to get the flywheel off.

Beth V

Last Subscription Date

Interesting thread, I'm glad you are looking for information. Pictures of the engine and the Chevy would really make this discussion easier. I won't debate the viability of the Chevy because I don't know its condition and capabilities.

Here's my perspective as a steam engine owner, steam engine hauler, CDL holder (everything but haz & school bus,) farmer's daughter & wife, and more:

For small engines, I like Ken's set up with the Dodge & heavy trailer (skid loader). Make sure you have power to pull and above all: power to stop safely! Make sure you have DOT approved chains and have at least 6 on the engine-all 4 corners plus front & back. Keep in mind that some states may make you pull into the weigh station. Be prepared for an inspection.

This would be my partial list based on the engines we have hauled.
  • Wooden Deck--if steel, cover with belting that is attached to the trailer.
  • WINCH!!! Always use a winch when possible because you can control the load.
  • Saddle the engine. Using the winch pull the engine up on the blocks so it is about 1 inch off of the trailer, block the rear and let it settle into the blocks. This minimizes rocking. Keep in mind that the engine will settle down into the blocks and you'll need to check your chains.
  • Use at least 6 high tensile (DOT reg) chains-all 4 corners plus front & rear. If using snap or over the center binders, wire the handles.
  • Check your chains about a mile down the road and again especially if you have rough roads. You'll be surprised on how they loosen.
  • I prefer never to put the wheels up against the gooseneck or beaver tail. Some prefer it that way, but I'm not a fan.
  • I prefer to haul with water in the boiler as I was always taught it helps cushion the tubes. Other folks prefer hauling dry.
  • DOT check the trailer if it isn't yours. Use a creeper to run the underside looking for bad cross members, faulty wiring, brake lines, etc. Check the tires especially if you are hauling heavy or in heat.
  • Watch for tree limbs. They will take out a stack or a governor if you hit them just right.
  • Be prepared for gawkers. They are a hazard.
  • Make sure everything on the platform is secure from oil cans, coal, wood, tools, tool boxes, bunkers, tanks, pokers, etc. You'll be surprised what will fly.
  • Make sure the smokebox and firebox doors are securely closed.
  • Make sure the water tanks are empty and secure! DOT will stop you if you have spray (believe me...they thought I had a hot brake.) You can also crack castings.

Check out these threads in the Steam Forum:




Personally, I prefer our Kenworth with the folding gooseneck double drop lowboy as shown here with my 24 hp Port Huron and then my niece's 20-75 Nichols & Shepard. Both engines are overwidth as you can see by the flags.

The last is our tilt bed single drop lowboy with the 16 Reeves with water wagon and the Polaris.