Restoration of an Engine

10 tons of parts

Parts being painted, about 10 tons of parts, they are all heavy.

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9313 4th Line, R.R. #5, Milton, Ontario L9T 2X9

Now priming became an issue all of a sudden. Did we want it primed for acrylic paint or for oil based paint? Up to this point, I did not know there was a difference. I knew acrylic paint looked better and stayed better, but also felt it was too expensive for this big a job. We decided to go with the oil based paint primer. Bad decision! As time went on, we realized that to go to this much work, time, effort, and expense, the best was none too good. Well, not much happened during the summer of 1993. We had steam shows to go to, and work to be done, and we both got busy doing other things. Time flew by and all of a sudden, it was fall.

While all this had been happening at home, Boilersmith had modified their plans for the boiler, sent them to Toronto to M.C.C.R. and had them approved. The stamped blueprints now in hand, they could start to order steel, make pieces and put it all together. One day, I got a call to bring the old boiler home since they were through with it. The new boiler was well on its way, and would be ready in a few weeks. Eventually, it was, and once again we were off to Seaforth (about 100 miles away), to bring home the shell of the new boiler. It was a pretty looking sight to behold. It finally looked like one day we would have an engine put together again.


In Ontario, when you do a boiler job such as this, it has to be done in stages. That is to say, when the boiler first came to us, it was only a shell no fire box, no stay bolts, no tubes, no flue sheets - -just an outside shell, The reason for this is that after marking, drilling, and tapping all the necessary holes, Ontario Pressure Vessels Act requires a plug to be put on the inside a piece of metal about one inch thick and approximately 1 inches in diameter. Boiler smith would put this on the inside, before completing the boiler.

We had to set every piece in place where it would eventually go, before drilling or tapping any holes. The reason for the plugs was that the studs that hold the castings to the boiler would not go through into the water, as they used to when it was built seventy-six years ago. That way there was no possibility of leaks. These plugs were also drilled and tapped about 3/8 of the way through. The stud then would be about one inch deep. We had to be very sure that each hole we drilled was necessary and in exactly the right place. There would certainly be no chance to move it afterwards. This means that the gears all had to mesh exactly right and the engine had to be lined up with everything else. This turned out to be a big job, because there were no studs to hold anything while we put on the next piece. We used clamps and chains and bolts in the stay bolt holes with clamps to put it all together. Bim figured out how to do all this. I am sure he sat up nights thinking this one through. However, as time went on he got it all laid out on the new boiler. I took some pictures of this and he did the work and the improvising.

When he figured he was as close as he could possibly be, he marked all the holes with paint and then with a centre punch. He must have been very close, because later we were to find out that everything fit exactly right. He took all those castings and engine off the new boiler again a lot of heavy lifting and handling, to be sure.

Now, to drill the holes. For this job, he rented a magnetic drill, since every hole had to be exactly ninety degrees to the surface. As most of the surface was on the round, we had a piece made to the curvature of the boiler and the flat of the drill. He drilled all the holes and tapped them all the same day with the same drilling machine. It did a great job and turned out just fine. Now, that we had drilled about 80 - 90 holes in the new boiler, it was off to Seaforth with it, back to Boilersmith. They would now put the plugs inside, install the firebox, the flue sheet, and the stay bolts. They would have it inspected and passed by M.C.C.R. and A.S.M.E. Then it would have to be sent out to be stress-relieved. This is a process whereby they put the whole boiler in a furnace. It takes about 6 hours to bring it up to 1200 F, hold it there for eight hours, and let it down slowly. I believe this was done in Stratford. After this, it was all descaled, brushed, and painted with several coats of black paint. At this point, it was all ready for the customerme!

About November 1994, we went back to Seaforth to bring home the finished product. Did it ever look good! I was so happy, I could have kissed it, maybe I did, I don't know!!

While all this had been going on in Seaforth, we at home were trying to decide where, how, and by whom would all these parts get painted. It was finally decided that Bim would paint them himself. We purchased a new spray painter for the job - one that uses 4 lbs. psi, but with lots of air volume, with very little over spray or spray haze. That proved to be one of the best things we did right. It saved enough paint to pay for itself on the one job. All the parts were prime-washed before being primed again.

As you will recall, we had primed them for oil paint. As a result, we had to prime wash all the parts, and then reprime them, two coats for acrylic paint. We had finally decided that acrylic paint was the only way to go, in this day and age. Now, there were about ten tons of these parts and they had to be brought inside on pallets by forklift and thawed out. As this was cold weather, all of the frost had to be out of the pieces before anything happened. So two or three pallets at a time were brought in, thawed out, prime washed, and undercoated twice. Then, they had to go outside again, as we did not have room to keep them inside.

Later on, each piece was brought in again, thawed out, and painted with two coats, let dry, and then taken back outside. Each batch of parts we brought in took about 2-4 days to do. Every part was done like this except for the back wheels. They were too heavy to handle that many times. Eventually they were primed and painted outside when the weather got better. Most parts were painted maroon, but some were green and some were black. Painting turned out to be as big a job as any other one we did.

Finally, about January 1995, we got the new boiler into the shop to start reassembly. Bim started with the rear wheel brackets. We cut plates to put on the outside of the boiler to make the axle come level, so the wheel would stand straight up and down. We had to do this because the new boiler was parallel sided, whereas the old one had been wider at the bottom than at the top. After the wheel brackets came the big compensating gear with the shaft across the front of the firebox underneath and the pinion gears. This proved to be no problem but lots of heavy work and forklift help.

Next came the intermediate gear, and with the help of a shop crane, etc, it too slipped into place very easily. Worked into all this was the steering gear, the brackets for the levers up on top, and other small parts, but all very important. The engine itself was put onto the other side and finally the main shaft across the top. All this came together exceedingly well. We knew there just had to be a catch somewhere. There was.

After most of the pieces were put on, the piping was next. We knew that we needed all new piping, so we got pipe for the water feed, as had been on it before. We got all 3000 lbs. test elbows and tees, but we did not realize we needed heavy wall seamless piping as well. Before we went too far, Bim did check with his boiler inspector, and that's when we realized our mistake. So, we took off all the black piping, went back to the supplier, and got heavy walled, seamless piping. We thought we were away this time.

The plumbing all went well until we came to the big steam pipe from the steam dome to the governors. In a distance of about two feet you have two elbows, two unions, a shut-off valve, a tee for the whistle, the throttle valve and so on. Now to make all that come exactly right for that many pieces to be tight and still be exactly the right length took some doing. Some people who looked at our problem said it couldn't be done. But once again perseverance paid off. It took a week to put that piece of piping together. Eventually it all came together and hooked up.

Last but not least, we got the back wheels painted and put back on. Then the back platform, superstructure, the rear deck. I made new two inch oak planks for the rear deck and took them to Bim's shop and put them on. Then the water tank and wood box were installed on the other side. These had been rebuilt and were ready. They had been primed and painted and mounted and piped into the system. After all this was done we masked the boiler and painted all the pieces once again, two coats. I hired a painter to do the striping on the engine. He spent a whole day doing all the wheels, the spokes, in the wheels, the engine, the gearing, and so on. He put our names on the back of the water tanks and made a good job of it, too.

Finally in early June of 1994, we were ready to take it outside for the first time. What a beautiful day that was for me! Bim hooked his John Deere AR onto the engine and towed it out the door. We couldn't put the smokestack on until we got outside, the door not being high enough .

But our work was not over, as Bim had figured we needed to repour the babbitt in the main bearing next to the flywheel. We did not do the one on the engine aide because it was in good shape. Being a one-piece casting it was all in the right place anyway. But of course, the other had been apart and moved and had to be repoured to be lined up. We lit the first fire in the new boiler just enough to warm it up a bit, because babbitt cannot be poured into a cold casting. So after filling it with water and lighting the fire, it seemed as if we were getting some place. It had been a long slow process. We wrapped the shaft with wax paper and heated the babbitt on an old kerosene heater and poured the right hand bearing. We poured in two halves, first the bottom, then the top. It turned out just fine. A little scraping and some oil holes to drill and cut out, but not hard to do at all. 1 thought there would be a lot more to it than that. I was amazed at how simple pouring babbitt really is.

After we got the right hand main bearing poured, we found out the intermediate gear did not mesh with the pinion gear. So Bim took it all off again and took the casting that holds the intermediate gear. In the drill press he made the holes oblong in shape by drilling little holes around the stud holes and chipping out the piece. When it was reassembled and the gear was up to where it should be, we made little funnels or scopes and poured babbitt into the enlarged holes. Then we put on a big washer and covered it up again so that you would never know. This proved to be a day's work, but a good way to solve the problem. The gears meshed right and were quiet when we got running again.

Well, the following Sunday Bim put a fire in the box and brought it up to pressure. I had bought a new safety valve for it and a new steam gauge. These had to be certified as being correct and then had to be certified as being correct with each other, according to the rules of the boiler inspector and M.C.C.R. The boiler had come in January of 1994 from Boilersmith in Seaforth. Because of that, it came with a 1994 boiler certificate. No inspector had to look at it until the spring of 1995. And that's another story. I'll get to that later.

The First Summer of Shows

The first show to which we took the engine was at the Ontario Agricultural Museum. It performed reasonably well. We did not work it on anything, but had a good time admiring it and driving it around. I did not get much time to play with it, as I had other things to do. My nephew Brian had a good time with it.

Then we took it to Caledonia, Ontario, for the first weekend in August and had a good time. We finally got the governor belt in line, so it would stay on.

The Milton Steam-Era was next, on Labour Day Weekend, the first of September, 1994. It was at the conclusion of this show that they saw fit to present us with the Johnson & Holt Trophy for the best restored engine at the show. It was a thrill to receive it, and we were grateful to all concerned.

The Jacket

After Steam-Era, the engine came home to our own shop at the farm. We decided to do it up right and put a jacket on it. Now, a jacket is just that. It is a coat to keep it warm. It had had a jacket in its former years. I always like the engine with a jacket, so we thought we would put one on again.

First, we put on band iron, half inch wide by quarter inch thick, about five places down the length of the boiler. We tied it at the bottom so it would be tight on the boiler. Then we cut wooden stays about two inches wide with a 7 degree bevel on both edges. We laid them on the boiler starting at the top and working down both sides, making all the little cut outs for pipes, etc. We fastened these together with a large stapler, putting in a staple about every foot to hold them altogether. When we got to the bottom, we left them about two inches apart, right down the centre at the bottom, so as to let any drip from the boiler drain out. Then we fastened this all together with strapping, like on a wooden box, using strapping about inch wide and quite thin. We drew that together at the bottom to make it all come together. We did the steam dome the same way, only we used one inch pieces of wood there. It all looked quite good when it was done.

At this point, I got a fellow by the name of Gordon Tuck from St. Thomas, Ontario, to bring us some sheeting. He had had it rolled to fit around the boiler and made it so it would hook together at the top. We made all the sheeting to fit in one day. It was amazing to see this man work with that sheeting. He had done it before on his own engine, and it was joy to see how he could make those pieces so that they fit exactly. Then I took the sheeting off again so that I could take it to Bim's workshop. We painted it a dark blue. We prime washed it, primed it, and put two coats of paint on it in one day. We went back a couple of days later and brought it home again. Then we had to put it all on again, without scratching it. That was quite a job. In a couple of days, I had it all installed and held in place with some sheet metal screws. Then we used brass bands, I had obtained a roll of two inch wide brass banding. It was made up and put on at every joint in the sheeting. It looked good. Rollie, the painter, came at that point to put the name back on the side again, as well as a few touch-up spots.

The Final Product

Well, it was now January 1995, and plans were under way to put on a display at the International Farm Show in the International Centre in Toronto. One day I got a call from Charles Batt from Barrie, Ontario, to see if I would bring the engine to the show. I had a sign painted up detailing the history as far as I knew it. 'From 1913 to 1994' the sign read, and if I do say so myself, it looked pretty good. The engine was trucked to and from the farm show by Neill Transportation of Milton, free of charge. We used a hang-up sign at the show.


I think the first and foremost thank you should go to my good friend William (Bim) Watson for all the hard work, thought, and perseverance he put into it. Without him I could not, and would not, have attempted to do the restoration. Thanks, Bim.

To Bob Clarke who rebuilt the governors.
To Roger Coulson who helped with his backhoe, lifting and moving things.
To Denise Coulson.
To Jack Layman who did machine work for us.
To Jamie McBay for trucking the engine with care.
To Charlie Smith at Boilersmith for doing a fine job on the boiler and all.
To a host of others who helped, a little here and there.

Gladys Hume, William 'Bim' Watson and Sherwood Hume, with the best restored steam engine trophy, at Milton Steam Era Show in September 1994, at Milton, Ontario, Canada.

Sawyer Massey Steam Traction Engine No. 3368, manufactured in 1913, and painstakingly restored by Sherwood W. Hume, 9313 4th Line, R. R. #5, Milton, Ontario, Canada L9T 2X9.

Last, but not least, to my wife, Gladys, who put up with me, who gave me moral support and supported the project from start to finish.

I had a great time with the restoration, but I don't think I would ever do another, partly because of the expense. I won't say how much enough to say the boiler cost about $30,000 and then we had to put it all together after that. It was fun and I loved every minute of it. But it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing.

As to future shows, etc, I would like to take the engine to some American shows, as it has an A.S.M.E.'s stamp on the boiler, It should pass A.S.M.E. inspection with no problem. Here again, transportation is expensive but if I were to get invited to go the U.S.A. with it some day, I guess we would find a way to get it there.

To all you out there in Steam Engine Land, I hope you all have as much fun with your engine as I have with mine!