Restoration of a 30 HP Rumely Steam Engine

30 HP Rumely

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Dalton, Minnesota 56324

This engine had not been in running condition since 1927. As I was reading George Richey's story about restoring his 25 HP Gaar Scott, I felt that it would be interesting for some readers to hear from others. I hope that more stories will soon be written for the Album.

This Rumely engine was as near to being a wreck as any I have seen. The complete threshing rig was standing on a farm some 10 miles north of Dickenson, North Dakota. It was not run since 1927 when the operator passed away and the boys were too young to operate a threshing rig. The separator was parked behind the engine what was left of it; also the water tank lay close to the engine. During World War II the boys would take off parts from the engine to be used for other repairs.

I found this engine about ten years ago, but I could not buy it. The owner wanted to keep it for sentimental reasons, so I just had to wait. I remember one time we were looking at the engine, one of the boys stood on the front wheel. His hand was on the smoke stack and all of a sudden the stack fell off, but luckily it did not break.

Now, for the parts missing or parts which had to be replaced. A complete refueling job, that got to be a real job as the birds and mice had been making nests, filling the boiler full up to the top of the dome with straw and hay. After a lot of pounding, we got the front hand hole plate out. Inside everything was so packed full I couldn't even push a rod more than a foot into the boiler. After a lot of scraping we were able to remove the bottom flues, but the hay was worse than the scale. I even built a fire inside the boiler. After several days, we had the flues removed and ready for a refueling job. That really isn't too big a job, only 76 flues. Next, we had to build a new platform, including all the braces, plow hitch and also the center hitch, plus the tool box and coal bunkers. Parts for gear guards and brackets. Next, we had to replace counter shaft box and babbitt same. The cap was made by doubling heavy steel pipe and welding 1' x 1' steel squares and boring holes for four large bolts.

Next, we started on the crank shaft bearings which had to be made as they were missing. We built them the same as the counter shaft bearing and, of course, had to babbitt them also. The crank boxes were missing, I got one box from Neil Miller of Alden, Iowa; the other crank box I made from a heavy piece of cast iron, rebabbitting same. The cross shaft and bearing was missing; these were made and bolted on to the boiler by four heavy bracket bolts. On the other end of the shaft, another bearing cap was made and rebabbitted. Next, the cross and bearing shaft was made to drive the governor, the Rumely uses two governor belts. One eccentric strap had to be made, using the other for a pattern. The valve steam guides were laying in the junk pile broken, so these had to be welded. The packing gland assembly was missing in one cylinder; a new one was made. We discovered the birds had made nests in the one cylinder, so we had to hone it out. A new piston rod was made. We had also to hone the valve seats. New piston rings were made and fitted on each piston and cylinder. Next a throttle valve, governor and oil pump which I had on hand were installed. Cylinder cocks, exhaust pipes and nozzle were put on and smoke stack bolted on again. The fire door was missing, but I happened to have one that I made to fit. All piping, check valves, shut off valves, injector and steam pump was mounted on the engine. A new reach rod from the front axle was replaced. Water column was put on, also steam gauge, pop valve, and whistle. Now we were ready to put in the hand hole plates and fill the boiler with water, but before we steamed the engine we pumped 250 lbs. cold water pressure into it. These engines have a real heavy boiler and it took the test. I believe it is a good practice to pump any boiler that has not been tested for a long time. We always test ours.

This was a big job, I had the engine running in about three months after hauling it home, but went over some of the parts the next summer. I understand there are only a couple of these engines around. I didn't know that when I bought it. The boiler is good, gears are perfect, and also the axles are tight. I am sure if you place the 25 HP Rumely next to the 30 you will see the difference at once.

I might write about rebuilding a 25 HP Gaar Scott, double cylinder, which used to brake the crank shaft, also a 32 HP cross compound Reeves I bought from Johnny Anderson in Miles City, Montana, also restored a 25 HP Rumely I bought in Canada some 18 years ago. I sold this engine at our auction two years ago. At the time we had the three Rumely plow engines at our show; the 25, 30 and 36 HP. This I believe could not be matched in any show in the United States.

Hope to see some of you at our show September 9, 10 and 11. Also, hope to read about some of your experiences on restoring steam engines and large gas engines.