Lets begin with what are probably the most recognizable of all Russell equipment, the steam traction engines. From 1882 to 1924, nearly 16,000 traction engines were produced. Available in sizes from 6hp to 150hp, Russell offered engines for nearly every application. Built for everyone from the owner of a small farm to large professional firms both home and abroad. With many of the largest traction engines shipped out of the country. The most common engines were mid-sized, simple cylinder engines. Russell also produced many compound engines, utilizing both a high and low pressure cylinder for power and efficiency. These are the engines that most of you see at steam shows around the country.
Russell also produced portable steam engines in similar sizes and styles as the more common traction engines. These engines lack a clutch and drive gear assembly, and needed to be pulled from job-site to job-site by horses or another traction engine. These portable engines seemed to be produced in greater numbers in the early years of the company when engines were generally smaller.
Along with the engines, Russell produced a full line of threshing machines. Machines for every size operation, and machines that continued to evolve as new technology became available. Not as many of these pre-historic combines exist today because unlike the traction engines, they were constructed mostly of wood or thin sheet metal. Neither of which holds up well in the weather. However some of these machines have stood the test of time, and if you've ever been around one, I think you would understand that it really was a fine piece of equipment. Compared to other brands, it could hold its own, and was a big part of the Russell & Company business for many years.
Russell also constructed other complimentary equipment for its engines such as water wagons. Never produced in mass quantities like the engines and threshers, yet still important offerings to keep Russell competitive in the market. You could get the complete set, everything you needed to do custom threshing in one place.
Russell also made sawmills. Unlike many of your more common mills, many Russell mills used two blades, one under and one over. Designed to handle larger, heavier logs in a more efficient manor.
Like many of the other successful steam engine builders, Russell was late to make a move toward gas powered equipment. However in 1915 they built their first gas tractor. From there they went on to develop basically, three sizes of tractors, trying to continue to meet the needs of their broad customer base. These have proven to be the some of the most rare Russell equipment with roughly 15 know to exist today. Russell built several of these tractors up until 1924.
I've touched on just some of the equipment, things that you may see on a regular basis at shows and events in you area. However Russell was into much more than just these few product lines. You may not know, but Russell really got started by building train cars. They met several contracts building hopper, flat and even some passenger cars. Russell built commercial boilers, stationary or skid engines, marine engines, rollers, and shovels. They made Russell hand tools, jacks, lubricants and produced pages upon pages of literature.
If you would like to know more about any of the items mentioned above or simply wish to learn more about the Russell & Company, you can post a question in the forums area of our site, or contact one of us here at The National Russell Collectors Association via email or phone as listed on the home page.