WADENA, Minn. - While he wasn't up to his elbows in grease, Sam Kelderman has been at the heart of a project two teens took on involving an incredible engine that will help others start a career in the technology and engineering field.
Kelderman liked things that were fast. In high school, he was known for enjoying a ride on his snowmobile or an ATV. In 2016, Sam and best friend Brady Adams brought some engine parts to the Wadena-Deer Creek Middle/High School to technology and engineering teacher Mike Shrode. They were the makings for something fast and powerful.
"They brought them in in buckets," Shrode said of the random parts including an engine block out of an old dump truck.The boys found out it started out in a marine application and was transferred to a dump truck. It already had a long history and they thought there might be more miles in it yet.
"Me and Sam brought it in to his classroom the one day because we thought it would be cool to build, and we kinda realized how much it would cost to build it so we decided not to," Adams said.
They were from a project Sam's brother, Tate, started years ago and Sam's mom Kandi Kelderman hoped the school might be able to make use of them, rather than sitting idle in a garage. It was a project Sam would have loved to dig into, his friends said.
"He would have been all over this," Adams said.
Not long after Sam's passing, after a vehicle crash in January 2016, the idea to make something of the engine started rattling around in Shrode's head. After talking with a Bemidji Tech instructor, Shrode wanted to move ahead with building an engine from that engine block using the help of area automotive industry partners.
While the project hit some roadblocks, it again moved forward after the encouragement of Sam's parents, Shrode said.
"Darren and Kandi said, 'You're gonna do this,'" Shrode said, so with the help of students, he pushed the throttle on the project.
Shrode gave Adams, who at the time had just graduated from WDC school, and Chris Hahn, who was in his senior year at WDC, the work of assembling the engine. They'd both been involved in engine rebuilds but nothing like this. This one was going to be special.
Shrode put together a parts list and approached area industry for parts and funding to make it happen. Auto Parts Value, Torvinen Machine & Repair in Menahga, Minn., and Sower Power Racing Engines in Parkers Prairie, Minn., were some businesses that Shrode said helped make the engine possible.
The two young men came in after work, on weekends and any other free time they could find to build the engine. It involved 288 different engine measurements.
"It's about as tedious and as perfect as a high school project I could have imagined," Shrode said.
While other students had an education from having the engine in the classroom, Adams and Hahn were pretty protective of the build. This was very important to them and because of all the record keeping involved, they wanted to know everything that was done.
"This isn't my engine, this is their's," Shrode said.
The engine includes about 35 catastrophic bolts, very important fasteners, that Shrode oversaw in the build. Due to the catastrophic nature of some of these, he did final tightening, making sure measurements were perfect. The engine took about one and half years to complete.
Aside from mechanical work, they painted, greased and are now marketing the engine at area events, hoping to raise money with the Sam Kelderman Technology & Engineering Scholarship raffle. The raffle funds will go into a scholarship fund to award students in the technology and engineering field - exactly the sort of thing that Sam would be into right now. They've stopped at the June Jubilee Parade, Back to the 50s, the Wadena County Fairgrounds enduro races and have plans for several other stops including businesses in Wadena.
While many would consider the finished project an art form, Shrode said this engine would drop into most vehicle applications and the result would be a very powerful ride.
"It's amazing," Shrode said of the end result. "It's incredibly powerful, yet you could put it in something you ride everyday."
When Shrode had the engine output measured, it showed 588 horsepower and 680-foot pounds of torque.
"It will probably pass just about everything but a gas pump," Shrode said.
And it will drive on 87 octane, just like your minivan, or you can pour in some racing fuel and get a real thrill.
All said, the engine is worth about $18,000, Shrode said. What adds to the value are signatures on the cylinder covers, including Dale Earnhardt Jr., Dave Kindig and Kev Dogg.
"I've never been able to afford what we put into that engine," Shrode said.
Now that it's complete and the boys have been able to travel around with it, they say it's going to be tough to see it given away.
"That's gonna be hard," Adams said of saying goodbye to the project.
"It was fun that's for sure," Hahn said.
They know that it will help raise important funds for future students. Both Adams and Hahn can attest to the importance of scholarships in the technology field as they are using funds to attend further schooling, Adams at CLC's heavy equipment program in Staples and Hahn at Alexandria Tech's powersports program.
The project allowed the two to pay it forward and help others with their time and talents.
For more information on the motor, call Shrode at (320) 815-7886.