Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Collegedale’s Don Gettys is fired up about steam engines.
The retired pastor has been building steam engines and machine parts for most of his life and hopes to soon complete one of his biggest projects yet. For the last six years he has been working on a one-third scale reproduction of a 1918 Case model tractor with a steam engine that weighs approximately 1,400 pounds.
“I’d estimate the project is about 80 percent complete,” said Gettys. “I plan to drive it in parades, but it will actually be used as a work engine too.”
Gettys, whose father and grandfather worked with machines, originally planned to study engineering, not theology.
“I started out to be an engineer but felt strongly called to be a pastor,” he said.
Beginning with his grandfather’s micrometer, Gettys began pursuing engine building and machine work as a hobby. He bought his own metal lathe and milling machine in addition to the other tools necessary for building engines and tractors.
During his 46 years as a pastor, Gettys has learned to make and has completed dozens of engines, tools and parts in his spare time.
“I was a volunteer at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum,” he said. “I’ve made hundred of parts for the locomotives they have there.”
According to Gettys, he uses a variety of scrap metal and old parts to create engines or other projects.
“I just like to see steam engines run and they put out power,” he said. “When I made my first steam engine and I put steam to it and it started running, it made me feel similar to the way I imagine God felt when he made Adam and he woke up and started moving.”
In addition to steam engines, Gettys creates other varieties of engines including a sterling cycle engine that is powered by the heat of a cup of tea. Gettys’ other hobbies include gardening, Hamm radio operation and participating with the Ooltewah-Collegedale Kiwanis Club.
“There’s nothing he can’t do,” said his wife Cynthia Gettys.
For more information contact Gettys at firstname.lastname@example.org.