Nellie engine


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R. R. #2, Hawkiestone, Ontario, Canada LOL 1TO

The pictures are of two engines belonging to George Hutchinson of Kilworthy, Ontario. George is past President of the Georgian Bay Steam Club which holds its annual show the August 1st weekend at Cookstown, Ontario. The big traction engine is a 25-76 HP. She was first designed around 1914 to meet the demand for a heavy plowing engine for the Canadian West. This engine, however, was sold to the Ontario Government in 1915 for about $5,500 to run a stone-crusher for the Department of Highways. In 1932 she was sold to a private contractor and continued in the same function. In 1955 more modern methods were introduced to crush stone.

For the next 10 years she ran a sawmill at Barry's Bay. The ground was so rough and swampy where the sawmill was located, they only operated in the winter. The average temperatures are well below freezing for at least three months of the year. I gathered that there was no problem at night as long as they drained the injectors and glass carefully. The water in the boiler would stay warm enough not to freeze.

After about four years the lumber had receded to the extent they wanted to move the mill back. When it came time to move the engine, it was impossible. You might say she was frozen in. After setting there for so many summers the back wheels had sunk. They decided to chain her front wheels to a bulldozer and try to pull her out. However, in so doing they tore off the front wheels and everything that was loosely attached. Undaunted, they simply gathered up their chain again, attached the front of the boiler to the bulldozer and literally dragged her to her new mill site some four miles away. This time her boiler was well supported with lumber and the back wheels were placed on cement blocks. Nevertheless, in 1965 when George and his brother, Les, came to get her she was a sad looking old gal, really looking her age and feeling her lack of dress. There was no platform or saddle tanks and very little left of her smoke stack and her smoke box was questionable. George and Les drove back to the site of the original mill and found the front wheels, chains, etc. They hadn't moved in six years and the saddle tanks had been riddled with hunter's bullets. Any little pieces of metal they tossed into the half ton truck 'just in case.' In fact, they : returned the following year and dug down almost a foot at the spot where the engine had set and found the circle iron off the steering.

They went in for the engine the second weekend in December. The ground had to be frozen but they didn't want too much snow. With the use of a bulldozer they got her on the float and put the front wheels under as a brace. They then chained the bulldozer to the back of the float. It acted as a pusher to get up the hill, and a brake, going down the hill. The tract was barely wide enough for a team of horses. Trees and swamp were the least of their worries rocks and huge boulders, products of the Canadian Shield, tried to make it impossible for the float. When they. finally reached the highway, they stopped at the first gasoline station that had a restaurant, as by this time it was getting dark and everyone was tired and hungry. Before they had finished their coffee the place was full of curious people. The owner of the place offered to pay George to leave the engine there for the winter. He claimed that he had seen more people and done more business in the last half hour than he had done all month!

George had real problems in the beginning restoring the engine. The few other Sawyer Massey's in the area were all smaller side mount designs whereas this one was a large rear mount. He had lots of little pieces to put in his jigsaw but no pictures to give him any clues. However, luck was with George in that another member of the club, Gord Smith, was able to buy a similar engine out west and had it shipped to Orillia. I won't say he didn't have any more problems, but at least he could compare and see where things went, even if he didn't have all the parts, or know how to make them.

In 1967 she was ready to parade at the local fall fairs and steam shows. If you look closely at the picture you will note that George built a platform, with railing, over one of the back wheels. This serves many purposes, it allows him to care for her easily and to carry the many admiring passengers in safety, especially his little grandchildren.

1967 was also her first year at an International Ploughing Match. In 1975 she was a guest at the World's Ploughing Match in Durham County, Ontario. No, she never did get to plough. She was either puffing about being decorative or running a sawmill.

The little engine, a real club favorite, was built by Charles S. Levey around 1871 belt power 5 HP. It was a stationary engine in a beverage factory from 1872 until 1905. From 1905 to 1963 it was used in a steam laundry for a summer resort on Lake Simcoe. When George bought the engine he had to hack it out of a stone enclosure of sorts. He then modified it slightly and put it on wheels. With the aid of a winch he is able to just squeeze her on the back of his 3/4 ton truck with its 8 foot box. 'Nellie,' as she is called is named after his wife Nell and is a real star at the local Pioneer Days, Steam Shows and Fall Fairs. 'Nellie' usually works a little draw saw and cuts wood for her big puffy sister. Through 'Nellie,' George has met some wonderful people and acquired many friends. The big, black Sawyer catches peoples' eyes and admiration, but little 'Nellie' catches your heart, quiet, steady and always faithful.

George retires this year and he and his wife are planning to load old 'Nellie' and drag their house trailer further afield. Join us in wishing them many happy hours.

The dates of the Georgian Bay Steam Show for 1977 are July 30,31 and August 1. It is held at Cookstown, Ontario, just north of Toronto.