RR 13, Box 209, Brazil, Indiana 47834
This is a catalog illustration of Scheidler Machine Works about 1900. The machine work and engine assembly was done in the two story building on the left. Boilers were built in the boiler shop on the right. A completed Scheidler portable steam engine sits in the yard between the buildings as does a boiler which has just been built.
In the 1850s Reinhardt Scheidler was employed as a mechanic for the Newark Machine Works in Newark, Ohio. By 1864 this company was sold. Scheidler, along with Patrick McNamar, formed a partnership company to build portable steam engines, boilers and sawmills.
After twenty years of operation in 1880, Scheidler had sold his interest in the Scheidler-McNamar partnership and built a new plant on South Third Street in Newark. The partnership was dissolved because of Reinhardt's differences with Patrick McNamar, who replaced his father in 1868. Some of the differences were that McNamar refused to build a traction steam engine until he had finished building a spur gear differential, as he did not trust the bevel gear differential. Another problem was that McNamar insisted that all engine valve gear was double-ported balanced slide valve type.
Scheidler went into the steam engine building business by himself, and in his new factory could now build steam engines the way he wanted to build them. In 1882 he built a traction engine which sold for $1,000. This was a unique engine, as Scheidler had not yet designed a differential gear, so this engine did not have a differential but had two long levers which threw the bull pinion out of gear on the side of the engine which the operator wished to turn. This system was very unsatisfactory, as the gears were prone to break and as Scheidler sold the engine with a warranty; the engine was later fitted with a bevel gear differential.
Scheidler engines were built many different ways; the engine could be purchased with a balanced 'D' valve or Scheidler's piston valve design. Other options were with or without a clutch and with or without a super heater at the base of the stack. The main drawback of the engines was Scheidler did not use staybolts to fasten the crown sheet to the boiler but used a crown sheet support that he patented. Scheidler's design used crown bars hot riveted lengthwise to the crown sheet. Each pair of crown bars was spaced so that the head of a 5/8' machine bolt would be held in the slots of the crown bars. These bolts could be spaced as desired during final assembly. The inside of the boiler wagon top also had crown bars riveted to it, which supported 5/8' machine bolts. Nuts were fastened to the 5/8' machine bolts which were tightened to the desired tension.
A Scheidler protable steam engine which sits inside the building where it was assembled many years ago. This engine was built just before Reinhardt Scheidler's death in 1903.
Scheidler engines were all built with the valve gear on the outside of the cylinder which eliminated the need for a valve eccentric and allowed the boiler to be lowered to a point that would just clear the boiler. Traction engines used a sliding intermediate gear to move the engine which turned on the shaft at all times, and was claimed to cause less wear on the engine shaft pinion than other types of design.
Scheidler built traction engines from a ten horsepower with a 7 x 10' cylinder to a twenty horsepower with a 9 x 12' cylinder. Stationary engines were from 16 horsepower with an 8 x 10' cylinder to 125 horsepower with a 13 x 16' cylinder.
During the 1890s competition was fierce among the steam engine manufacturers of Newark, Ohio, as three companies were building traction engines in the city: Scheidler, McNamar and Walker. Scheidler proved he was the best showman and built a road engine for advertising. This road engine had an engine that was much larger than the boiler, flat cleated rear wheels and the front wheels were a larger diameter than the wheels normally would be. Scheidler's road engine was able to run a half mile track in two minutes with its governor or 15 miles per hour. This was quite a feat with steel wheels and chain steering.
During the local county fair, a Walker steam engine put on a demonstration where it raised and lowered a basket of pig iron from a limb on a stout oak limb using a chain and pulley. Scheidler heard about the demonstration and not wanting to be out-shown by a Newark competitor, let it be known that his road engine could easily duplicate the stunt. Scheidler's road engine appeared at the fair the next morning equipped with spade lugs, or mud hooks as they were known at the time. Scheidler's son was the engineer and was given precise instructions before the pull. After young Scheidler was hooked to the load and given the start signal, he backed up, lunged forward purposely never looking back. The basket of pig iron, weighing several tons, reached the pulley and the oak limb snapped. Down came the load of pig iron, pulley, chains and tree limb. Young Scheidler, looking straight ahead, dragged the whole mess over to the Scheidler factory lot.
Reinhardt Scheidler was a well respected businessman in Newark, who for many years was treated to a birthday parade which started at the crack of dawn. The day would start with Scheidler's road engine arriving in front of his house pulling a special parade wagon and tooting its whistle. A brass band was present for the occasion and Scheidler was seated for the twelve mile ride to Buckeye Lake Park.
If you visited the Scheidler factory you would be greeted by the sight of several rusting Scheidler boilers brought in for repair or junking. These boilers were present as long as the boiler shop stood and almost every boiler had the crown sheet blown down.
Scheidler's persistence in using his poor design of crown bar supports instead of staybolts in fact cost him his life. On April 29, 1903, at 4:30 p.m. Reinhardt Scheidler was presiding over an engine under test in the Scheidler yard when it exploded. Scheidler was on top of the engine checking the repair work (probably crown support repair) and examining (or adjusting) the safety valve when the crown sheet blew. The engine was blown off the boiler and flew in a circle landing fifty feet away on a corner of the boiler shop. The flywheel was thrown clear of the engine and landed on First Street and broke as if it were made of glass. Scheidler was killed instantly when a piece of metal imbedded in his head. Several workmen who were near the engine were injured. The force of the explosion was such that until a few years ago, the repaired brick in the side of the building could easily be seen.
The Scheidler Machine Works building as it looks today. It is used to house the Institute of Industrial Technology which is a museum which displays much of the county's industrial past.
Scheidler engines also had problems with the Scheidler patent piston valve, which leaked badly with a little wear. The last eighteen horsepower Scheidler traction engine which was built around 1920 was returned to the factory to have a balanced 'D' valve installed to replace the piston valve.
Scheidler engines sold well and were shipped to the East Coast. No record exists of the total number of engines built, but reports were told of seeing ten Scheidler engines on the erection floor at one time. Scheidler engines were compact and many steam men misjudged the amount of power they could produce until they saw a Scheidler engine work.
Even after Scheidler's death in 1903, the company continued to build and prosper as the demand for engines remained strong for many years thereafter. Little or no design changes were made after Scheidler's death and the same crownsheet support which caused the death of company founder was used in every Scheidler engine as was the use of pipe for rear wheel spokes on all traction engines.
The Scheidler engine design varied constantly and Reinhardt Scheidler held more than sixty seven patents on steam engine design and attachments during his lifetime. With less demand for steam engines, the Scheidler factory became more of a custom machine shop and less of a steam engine factory. The last engines were built around 1925.
Today you can still visit one of the Scheidler factory buildings at 55 South First Street in Newark, Ohio. The building which was used to build the engines and assemble them on the boilers is painted with company advertising on the outside as it was many years ago. This building is now home to the Museum of Industrial Technology, which is a museum preserving the industrial heritage of the county. The museum has a portable Scheidler steam engine on display along with many interesting exhibits. With a little imagination you can almost see the rusting Scheidler boilers lying outside the building all with their crown sheets blown down.