McNamar traction

The McNamar traction of 1904. Grimes reverse.

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Granville, Ohio

Newark, Ohio, has, I believe, a most unusual record of producing, during the years, 5 makes of steam engines of which 3 were traction and good ones for their size and day.

First in Newark and one of the first engine builders west of the Alleghenies was Joseph E. Holmes, whose advertisements in the 'Ohio Cultivator' of 1855 reads in part, 'we have repeatedly within a few years past, published descriptions with engravings of the different forms of steam engines adapted for farm purposes but here to fore no such engines have been manufactured in Ohio, or in any of the western states, to our knowledge.'

The Holmes engines were built in 9 sizes from 2hp. (4'x8' cyl.200 rpm.) at $1500. These engines were listed as portable although, as illustrated, the fly wheel extended a foot or more below the floor line.

Later, in 1855, the 'Ohio Cultivator' reports 'we were at the Newark Machine Shop a few days since, to see a magnificient 20 hp. portable engine which will be shipped to Kansas on Monday. 'We saw orders for some 40 to 50 more of these same engines from Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, etc., orders having been drawn here from the good reputation of the Newark Works.

The Newark Machine Works went into receivership late in the 1850's at which time it was leased by John McNamar, who, by 1861, had formed a partnership with Reinhardt Scheidler to build a line of engines and sawmills. More of this firm later.

Following the McNamar lease, the Newark Machine Works became the Blandy Company which built skid and portable engines and sawmills. A Blandy skid engine of 1865 is on display at the Ford Museum and Blandy sawmills with the Case Eagle emblem looking into the top saw cut have given good service into the present century hereabouts.

Sometime in the 1870's the Union Iron Works at Newark attracted a Canadian inventor, not recorded by name who designed and built a number of traction attachments for portable engines. This device used a leather, riveted link, belt drive which breaking as it often did, established speed records for steam on our Licking County hills according to a few men in their 90's who can remember such accidents.

The Union Iron Works did build a chain and gear traction engine as shown on Page 15 of Clymer's Album which engine had certain unique features. This 8'x10' engine had 2 road speeds, independent frame, spring mounted boiler, which boiler had a good effective super heater. While this was a strange little engine it is said to have performed well on the road and at exhibitions as far away as Chicago.

The McNamar-Scheidler partnership lasted while the two energetic, inventive Germans could agree after which each established a separate engine and mill works in Newark, and the fur flew. Each of these shops turned out several hundred engines during the hey-day of steam, Scheidler undoubtedly building more than McNamar since at best the Scheidler Works employed some 150 workmen and had as many as 10 engines on the assembly floor at one time.

During the 42 years that Reinhardt Scheidler built he was granted 67 patents pertaining to the traction steam engine. It follows that his product continuously changed and that some of the, ideas that were tried did not pan out one such idea costing the inventor his life. For example, Scheidler built some boilers without crown bars, some with crown bars, but with no crown stay bolts and in the shop yard were many boilers that failed nearly all with cracked or bursted crown sheets. Some Scheidler boilers had a steam dome others were built without a dome with a super heater around the base of the stack.

The first Scheidler traction built in 1891 was sold to Silas Preston whose son Charles Preston at 94 can still recall taking it from the shop. It was a 10 hp. engine, horse-steered, and for the want of a differential had a manually operated dog whereby the operator could apply power to both wheels or to either wheel on turns. The engine was later fitted with compensating gears when the manual device broke repeatedly.

Many Scheidler engines follow the type shown on page 39 of Clymer's Album with the Stevenson link operated by eccentrics outside the crank pin, traction engaged by shifting the intermediate gear along its bearing, and pipe spokes front and rear. Quite a number of engines were fitted with the piston valve which Scheidler championed.

The Scheidler Works continued in business as a machine shop until the 1920's but the living spark was extinguished when in the spring of 1903 Reinhardt Scheidler was killed by the explosion of an engine under test in his yard.

As a boy I can recall where the boiler from that engine hung after the explosion by the patched brick work on the three story storage warehouse. There are several older threshermen in our county who have used Scheidler engines finding them to be good pullers and easy steamers.

Julius J. D. McNamar taking over the engine works at Newark from his father John McNamar in 1885, built a complete line of traction, portable and skid engines and sawmills for the next 35 years. McNamar did not build as many engines as Scheidler nor did he match his competitor in showmanship, but the McNamar engine spoke for itself.

The McNamar boiler was built to a proven locomotive design with very little change during the 45 years of production. As proof of its easy steaming abilities, several engines were built to special order having a cylinder rating of 2 to 4 hp. beyond the boiler rating which gave the operator a mighty handy engine in our hilly section. As far as record or inquiry can reach there has never been a failure or explosion traceable to a McNamar boiler.

The McNamar engine and gearing designs were just as stable Grime reverse used entirely to 1903 after which the Stevenson link was it. Heater bed plate on all sizes to 1904 after which the Girder bed plate was available on the 14 and 16 hp. sizes not much change during the many years of building. All McNamar engines were fitted with a balanced slide valve and all tractions with a good clutch, foot brake on the intermediate shaft and with a differential lock. McNamar engines were single geared with the compensating gear or differential in the left drive wheel on the main axle and thereby hangs an interesting point.

McNamar used an all spur gear differential of his own patent even on the first tractions built in 1892. As an examination of the enclosed cut shows the driving effort on the outer, internal gear (left wheel) is just twice that applied to the inner gear (keyed to the right wheel) it follows that the left driver did the greater part of the pulling. This was cleverly offset by building the engine heavy on the left side which resulted in a good pulling arrangement and satisfactory steering. As evidence of driving effort concentrated in the left wheel consider that my father's 16 hp. engine wore the third set of cast cleats through to the underside hollows in 27 seasons of work while the original cleats on the right drive were still serviceable. Also on a steep hill pull that engine would just teeter the spindles in the front wheel hubs and never rear up beyond that point. There is engine balance for you.

This account of engine building at Newark would be incomplete without an example of the keen rivalry that existed. One fall at the Licking County Fair the Walker people rigged up an iron basket holding several tons of pig iron to a pulley on a strong oak limb some 30 feet above the ground. Chains ran from the basket, over the pulley, and to the Walker engine drawbar. After a round of bally-ho, the Walker traction would hoist the heavy basket, hold it, and control its steady return to the ground. It was a good show and demonstration.

Through a third party a challenge and bet was arranged, promptly accepted and covered by Reinhardt Scheidler who backed his engine into position The drive wheels fitted with mud lugs, John Scheidler, son of the builder, handled the engine that day under very specific instructions. He started slowly and as the drivers took hold he opened it up and never looked back. The basket sailed aloft, reached the end of its travel and came down bringing the chains, pulley and part of the limb along with it. Young Scheidler never slacked his pace until he reached his own exhibit area dragging the basket and wreckage with him to the glee of spectators and the complete humiliation of the Walker show.

In 1953 Newark celebrated 153 years of notable history and achievements but to many of us there was a great void. No person in the County has seen fit to preserve any one of the five engines that have in years past been the pride of this city and which have gone forth from its shops by the hundreds.