About C.H. Wendel


For more than forty years C.H. Wendel and been writing books that document the development and use of farm and industrial engines, tools and machinery.  His works include the definitive work on gas engines (American Gasoline Engines Since 1872) which continues to be in demand today. Some of his more popular books are considered “bibles” on tractors, farm equipment and historic documentation of the companies such as Case and John Deer. 

Early Life
Born in 1939, Wendel grew up in Eastern Iowa where he worked on his family farm. He listened closely to the members of his family who fanned his interest in machines and farm equipment. Following college where is became passionate about music and the building and playing of pipe organs, Wendel chose a more practical career. During his career as a union electrician, he added to his collection of gas engines and began collecting information about their origins. His first book, Power In the Past was published in 1971.

A Short List of Books by C.H. Wendel

A partial list of his books written during  the next four decades follows:
The Great American Farm Tractor (1st edition) 1974
Encyclopedia of American Tractors lst edition (1979)
150 Years of International Harvester (1981)
American Gasoline Engines Since 1872 – Illustrated Edition (1983)
Nebraska Tractor Tests Since 1920 (1985
Minneapolis-Moline Tractors 1870-1964 (1990)
Alice Chalmers Tractors (1991)
Encyclopedia of American Farm Implements (1991)
Massey Tractors (1992)
Powers In the Past (1971, 1993
Standard Catalog of Farm Tractors 1890-1920 (1994
Great Farm Tractors (1995)
American Automobile Trademarks 1900-1950  (1995)
150 Years of J. I Case (2003)
Oliver Hart Parr (2005)
Alice Chalmers Story: Classic American Tractors (2005)
American Industrial Machinery Since 1870 ( 2008)

Prairie Press
In 1989/90 Wendel purchased the Prairie Press, after the death of owner, Carroll Coleman. He has archived all Coleman’s publications. His interest in printing and publishing grew and he owned and operated a bookstore for several years in Amana where he lived after moving from Atkins, Iowa. During his bookstore days, Wendel continued to collect and rescue books and reference materials on engines and machines. His collection of catalogues, magazines and reference books also grew. Several other books were published as he continued to produce his carefully researched works.  In 2008 he published American Industrial Machinery Since 1870.  Following this publication, Wendel began extensive work in the history of his own family tracing his ancestry to the time of Martin Luther.

Tours to Europe and Australia
Over the years Wendel has hosted trips to Europe and Australia that enabled his clients to visit major industrial museums and exhibits.  Wendel studied, reads and speaks German. On his trips to Germany he collected books and printing samples that documented the history of letterpress printing. He also continued to collect documentation of engines and machines as his own collection of gas engines grew. In 1983 he published the immensely popular American Gasoline Engines Since 1872. He continued to write during the next thirty years.

C.H. Wendel Today
No biography of C.H. Wendel has been written. This prolific writer has remained almost incognito in his private life. He is a humble and unassuming man, who considers any “self promotion” unnecessary. Still when you mention his name in a group of farmers, tractor enthusiasts or gas engine collectors it is immediately recognized. For the past 50 years, he has been involved in supporting and enhancing the exhibits and museums at the Midwest Old Thresher’s Reunion in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.  For several years his gas engines were featured there. It was through his efforts that Printer’s Hall now features many of the antique printing presses and equipment.

Currently Chuck, as he prefers to be called, lives in Amana, Iowa, with his wife Judith.  In spite of recent health challenges, Chuck continues to serve as the Director of Printers’ Hall at the Midwest Old Thresher’s Reunion. His interest in printing has grown with the success of Printers’ Hall and his publishing company, Prairie Press. He and Judith have a small print shop where they continue to produce letterpress projects and do printing for Midwest Old Thresher’s Reunion.

Recently Wendel published a new edition of The Circular Saw Mill and his newest book is the fascinating Illustrated History of the Steam Locomotive.  New reprints of the Nebraska Tractor Tests and the American Gasoline Engines, books will be released later this year early in 2016 to benefit new collectors.

C.H. Wendel’s  New Book
Chuck’s new book on steam locomotives is years in the making.  His rescue of a complete set of Engineering (London) provides his fans with some of the most striking engravings of locomotives seen in the past century.  Until 1900 almost all of the illustrations were cut from wood engravings.  The large format of the book permits views of the locomotives that would be unobtainable by any other means.

Also available through this website is Wendel’s American Industrial Machinery  Since 1870 which includes a section on machine tools; everything from lathes and drills to gigantic planers and grinders. Another section is devoted to printing presses and printing machinery of all kinds from small hand presses and treadle presses to immense newspaper presses. The section also includes a detailed study of the linotype, intertype and the linograph.

To Contact C.H. Wendel please e-mail: info@chwendel.com