FREE LANCE ENGINE

Free lance engine

Adam D. Viellieux with his free lance engine, and his youngest boy, Paul, behind him. Courtesy of Adam D. Viellieux, Route 1, Box 187-B, Somerset, Wisconsin 54025.

Adam D. Viellieux

Content Tools

Route 1, Box 187-B,Somerset, Wisconsin 54025.

Enclosed is a picture of an engine I've just completed. It is a 3' scale. Not modeled after any engine. It is strictly free lance job. I have fabricated most of the parts, except for the cylinder and steam chest, governor, con rod, forward and reverse lever, and steering wheel. It works just great and has plenty of power. The tubing for the boiler was a little shorter than it should have been, so to make up for lost steaming and heating area, I have 16 water tubes inside of the fire box. Does that ever make it steam fast and easy! In fact, I have to keep the draft almost closed all the time.

I ride on a trailer with my feet on the platform with two children behind me.

We had 14 children, but only 6 left at home now. I have one boy that's quite interested in steam engines, and I hope he keeps it up so he can 'take over' some day.

I also build small, free lance engines just for the pleasure of it. The only model I ever built was a walking beam engine. Also a little hit-and-miss engine (gas). To round things out, I also made a hot air engine.

My Dad, Wm. A. Viellieux, was a well-driller, part blacksmith, mechanic, and what-have-you. We had a small blacksmith shop on the farm where I was raised. We had a line shaft that ran several machines. I more or less cut my teeth on model 'T' Fords. When I was 12 or 14 Dad bought an old sawmill and rebuilt it with all new wood. Then he got an 18 H. P. Case steam engine to run it. After I got to be about 17 or so, Dad had me run the engine. Then I was in my glory. One day, while leaning on the steering wheel watching the sawing, I heard a new sound of steam leaking from somewhere. I wondered what was leaking now, and began to look for the trouble. When I walked around to the side where the water glass was, my heart came up in my throat. The glass was cracked in a straight line from top to bottom towards the boiler, and steam was hissing out in a thin sheet through the crack. What scared me was the fact that I realized that at any second that glass could shatter and I would have a face full of glass. It didn't take me long to shut those valves! When I told Dad about it, he just laughed and came over and showed me how to put in another glass. My Dad never got excited in any emergency always calm and easy going. He had an uncle by the name of Mr. Leo Jerry, who was a crackerjack of an engineer, and in the Fall, about late 1900's, they would go to North Dakota, and each take an engine and separator and go threshing around the area until freeze-up. I guess that about sums up my brush with steam. I attend the local steam shows and enjoy them very much. I also enjoy reading Iron Man and seeing what other fellows are doing.

I am 56 years old and hope to see a lot more steam shows yet.