A Hobby of the Murphys

Warren ''Charlie,'' Glenn ''Speed,'' Maxwell ''Mackie'''

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911 Accommodation Road Wilmington, Ohio 45177

Fred Sewell took this picture at the Clinton County Antique Power Club's show in Wilmington, Ohio. Left to right are brothers Warren 'Charlie,' Glenn 'Speed,' Maxwell 'Mackie' Murphy brothers, was absent from the picture. Read about the Murphys in this issue.

In 1973, Glenn 'Speed' made a deal for he and his brothers to purchase a two cylinder 7 x 10 Frick steam engine. This was our first engine, so we had a lot to learn.

The arrival of the engine was greeted by many in the Murphy family at the home of 'Speed,' just a stone's throw from the junction of Interstate 71 and U.S. 68. We were anxious for our first project, that was to drive the engine to my farm some seventeen miles away to do some threshing of wheat. This trip took a whole day with a small problem steam! Our fire was very sluggish with just enough steam to run on.

The next day I took a look inside the smoke box to find the problem the exhaust nozzle was gone. I cobbled one up and installed it. The next time it was fired up, there was enough steam to run it. This was quite an improvement, so a permanent nozzle was made and my son, Wayne, welded it on. One problem solved!

Another small problem demanded our attention. The valves needed to be reset, so here we go Maynard Harris, a friend of the family (older, wiser and with steam engine experience), was on one side and I was on the other. Speed sat on a little red wagon reading the instructions from a book. But the instructions were not working. Speed was reading about a one-cylinder engine we had a two-cylinder. We asked him to close the book so we could finish. Job well done!

The Frick was built in 1921 and sold in 1923. During the winter of 1994-1995 it was rebuilt by Speed's son, John Murphy, in his machine shop. The boiler was stripped down and laid on the floor. We replaced the flue box lining, both flue sheets and flues, all stay bolts and the bottom half of the barrel. This overhaul gave us almost a new boiler. It should last another 50 years. Our Frick double is a very smooth engine to work. There is no dead center or jerking to move about. It is a pleasure to run.

The Frick is displayed annually at our home show, the Clinton County Corn Festival on the Clinton County Fairgrounds, Wilmington, Ohio, the weekend following Labor Day. Also it finds a home at the Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Show near Georgetown, Ohio, the second weekend of August. This show is very special to me, as I served on their Board of Directors from 1978-1995. On two occasions it has been to the Darke County Miami Valley Steam Thresher's Reunion in Greenville, Ohio.

In 1975, two years after obtaining the Frick, my son Wayne and I bought the smallest engine from a gentleman in Xenia, Ohio. It is shown on the trailer. This engine survived the famous Xenia tornado, but its canopy and a little fan were blown away, never to be found. It is a 1/8 scale Advance Rumely and was built by Harold Ary of Greenville, Ohio. Due to its age, the boiler developed leaks, so in 1978 we built a complete new boiler from scratch. Youngsters love this engine because of its size.

As our interest in steam continued, Wayne and I decided to build from scratch the middle steam engine. It is a scale 5x6 that was finished in 1993. Its purpose is unusual. It steams sweet corn as a food concession with the profits benefiting the new O.V.A.M. Show Grounds near Georgetown, Ohio. After retiring from farming, my wife and I moved to my parent's home on Prairie Avenue, Wilmington, Ohio. Last summer at the age of 83, it was a joy to fire it up, blow the whistle and sometimes run it a short distance up and down Prairie Avenue within the city limits. It gathered second looks from the city folks.

This fall my wife and I moved 'back home to the farm' with my son and his wife. Now I am looking forward to watching him plant and harvest.

A Footnote from Mackie's daughter, Mickey Young:

'I had always wondered why my father and uncles chose a 'hobby' that was so much work. Now I understand, as I have seen the joy it has brought them through the years. You could say it is a 'labor of love.'

'My father has recently given me his share of the Frick steam engine. I will have my first operating lesson on July 4. They keep saying something about 'cleaning the flues out.' I am really excited, especially since I do not have to worry about changing flat tires. Just show me where the key is to turn it on!!'