Ol' Rum


Peerless #14710 after restoration,

Content Tools

Box 381 ,Danville, Illinois 61832

I've sent along some pictures of Peerless #14170 which were taken since it was sold in April 1989. This is the same engine that is mentioned in my earlier story which was published in the IMA November/December 1990,page 9. At the time I submitted my story, I did not know where the engine was located. This engine is now located in the north part of Brazil, Indiana on Highway 59.

I would like to point out that this engine has wooden spoked rear wheels and steel spoked front wheels. Does anybody know of another Peerless similarly equipped?

As I mentioned in my first story about the Peerless, I tried to buy it several times from Mr. Ford, but he was asking about twice what I thought it was worth. So when the July/August 1984 issue of IMA arrived with an M. Rumely engine advertised for sale, we (self, brother and father) decided to inquire about it.

After a telephone conversation and a couple of quick trips to southern Illinois, I became the owner of a 1911 M. Rumely steam engine (#6215). This engine is not like most Rumelys, because it had the cast front axle, front and rear round spoke wheels, wet bottom firebox and lap seam boiler. The boiler has a 'sloping side' firebox, which means that the firebox was narrower at the bottom and widened out at the top.

This engine was advertised to be a 16 horsepower, but we later confirmed that it was a 20 horsepower from specifications in a Rumely catalog. Since then, we have seen several pictures of Rumely engines whose owners claimed them to be 16 horsepower, but I think that they are really 20 horsepower.

When I got the engine, three flues had plugs in them; it had a fuel oil tank for a water tank, and no rear platform or coal bunkers. We knew that we had some work on our hands. This engine was in the same family from 1911 until 1981. It was used primarily to power a jaw type rock crusher in the Chester, Illinois area. The gearing and cleats on the wheels were in excellent condition.

Arrangements were made to haul the engine to my father's place about one month after we bought it. Dad and I thought that we should be present for the loading and transport of the engine. We had a small surprise, when the mover tried pulling the engine onto the trailer from an angle, and almost turned the engine over. Steel wheels slid easily on steel loading ramps. Once the engine was loaded, the rest of the trip went by without mishap. The same day we got the engine home, we decided to fire it up and ended up showing a good number of neighbors what a steam engine with leaky flues looks like.

The following Veterans Day, we started installing 54 new flues in the Rumely. We had never put flues in a boiler before, so we learned a lot during that day. My dad had watched his father put flues in a 32 horsepower Reeves when he was a little boy. The first time we fired the Rumely with the new flues, we did not have any leaks, so I guess Dad did a good job of watching Grandfather.

We saw an advertisement for a sale listing a 16 horsepower M. Rumely which was near Geff, Illinois. This engine was quite different from my engine. It had the heavy butt-strap boiler and flat spoke wheels. Since the boiler was as big or bigger than the boiler on my engine, I doubt that this engine was a sixteen horsepower. While we were there, we measured the side water tank to get dimensions to build tanks for my engine. We measured the distance between the tank brackets on both engines and found out they were the same. We had two water tanks built, one for each side, at a welding shop in Marshall, Illinois. I got measurements from Fred Nolan's Keck Gonnerman for coal bunkers, and Dad built a platform out of diamond plate and channel iron. Dad jacked up the boiler, removed the caps from the axle bearings, and rolled both wheels, while still on the axle, away from the boiler. Cleanup and painting were made much easier by the removal of the wheels. New metal was installed along with additional nailers to improve the canopy. The injector was rebuilt by Al New of Pendleton, Indiana, and we installed new piston rings.

Like the person who buys his first car and realizes that he would have liked a different model, I realized that this engine was not exactly what I wanted. My dad had always wanted a plowing engine and the Rumely was built too light to do a lot of plowing. My engine was primarily built for beltwork. My brother and father bought a late model rear mount double cylinder Nichols and Shepard with butt strap boiler (20-75 horsepower), and I decided to sell the Rumely.

I wanted a steam engine, but did not know of anybody who had an engine for sale with an ASME stamped boiler. Dad and I looked at several engines but we did not like anything that we found. Seems like there are lots of engines for sale, but very few in really good shape.

I thought about buying a model and the advantages of a model versus a large engine. The boiler would not be as old, it could easily be transported, and it could be stored in a regular garage. If I were lucky enough to get a model with an ASME stamped boiler, I would not have to worry about boiler inspections.

After several months, I decided I wanted a model, and since I live in Illinois, if it had a boiler barrel diameter of 16 inches or greater, it had to have the ASME stamp. I knew of only one source for a model with a code boiler and that was Tom Terning.

During the months that I had the Rumely advertised, I had probably ordered ten of Tom's price lists. At every show I attended, I watched for a Terning engine, and questioned the owners as much as I could. I talked to Russell Helms at the Douglas County Steam Festival in Arcola, Illinois and he said that I wouldn't regret buying a Terning engine. He had purchased a complete Case half scale, as well as several parts to build a model of an Advance Rumely.

At the Boonville, Indiana show in October 1989, I became acquainted with another person exhibiting a Terning engine-Billy Byrd. I talked to Mr. Byrd about his engine and found out that he was very pleased with it. He strongly recommended getting the ASME coded boiler, because he had seen a number of good engines not being allowed to run, just because they did not have a stamped boiler.

After the Rumely sold in December 1989, I contacted Tom Terning and ordered a one-half scale Case with the ASME coded boiler. I know that I will enjoy the model more than I did the old Rumely, but the Rumely taught us about steam engines and therefore will always be missed.

In closing, I think it would be interesting if all the owners of Illinois engines sent pictures of their engines to IMA for an Illinois engine picture feature.