Restoration Of The U-1-2 Peerless 2 - Cylinder Traction Steam Engine


The ''Senator'' after the dedication.

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Maryland Submitted by George E. Neal 230 North Aurora Easton, Maryland 21601

Pictured are those who restored the engine. Left to right Wilbur Engle, Arthur Greene, Howard Engle, Melvin Engle, Mrs. Robert Dean (the Senator's wife, who donated the engine to Tuckahoe), Richard Harvey, Eric Harvey, & Ross Rhodes.

The engine #16660 was built in 1913. It was bought by Mr. Channing Delaplane of Delaplane, Virginia. He was the owner of a large fruit orchard operation. The Peerless was used mainly to run the large generator which furnished power for the packing house lights and machinery. It was sometimes used to pull stumps, pull a large road scraper and move wagons from orchard to packing house. The Peerless was used until about 1928, when the Depression affected even the fruit packing business.

The Peerless stayed at Delaplane's until around 1940, when it was purchased by Mr. Clifford C. Thompson. Its new home was about 20 miles away. Mr. Thompson used the engine in his saw mill operation. It was used by him during the World War II era. He stopped using it in 1945 when he discontinued his business. The mighty iron horse was run out into the meadow to rest with soot in her flues and scale in her boiler.

During her long rest, Mother Nature started to take over the Faithful Machine.

Three decades later, Mr. Robert Dean of Centreville, Maryland, began hearing stories of an old steam engine in the meadow. He began to trace her down. His first trip to Virginia proved unsuccessful. On his second trip, he asked the people in the area about the engine. With their bits of information, he was able to find the resting Peerless, but she was not for sale!

Mr. Dean and I were close friends and steam engine hobbyists. We traveled to many steam shows and auction sales together. We attended shows and auctions all over the East Coast from Maine to South Carolina searching for parts to restore our engines. As I, myself, am an auctioneer, Mr. Dean would rely on me to understand the bid from the unfamiliar auctioneers.

Around 1977 Mr. Dean and I were returning from a show in Berryville, Virginia. On the way home he said to me that he would love to buy that Peerless U-1-2 engine in the meadow. He especially liked her because it was the same model engine used on his farm to thrash wheat when he was a boy.

He told me he had stopped five or six times to buy her, but she was still not for sale. I said to Mr. Dean, 'Let's go there. I have a feeling that the engine could be bought today.' He replied, 'I hope you are right.'

After a -hour drive we were on site. I really could not see much of the engine, only a little part of the water tank. A 6-inch tree had grown from the bottom of the smoke box right out the top of the stack. She was completely covered with honeysuckle vines.

After we looked her over Mr. Dean said he was going to talk to the owner to see if my prediction was right. Away he went up the steep hill and into the house. I stayed behind in the truck. About twenty minutes later, he was back at the truck with a different look on his face. I said to him, 'Who is right this time?' He laughed and said 'I bought her!'

As soon as we arrived home, Mr. Dean wanted to know when we could bring his Peerless home? In about a month's time he made arrangements for a tractor-trailer from the Kingstown M.F. dealer. The driver was Mr. Arthur Merrick Green, a club member, and his cousin, Mr. Fred Coursey, accompanied him.

Mr. Dean and I went to Virginia on a Wednesday and made arrangements with a D-4 Cat to pull the engine from the meadow. The tractor-trailer arrived Thursday at 9:45 a.m. The Cat went to work. It pulled the engine from the meadow, out on the road, and then onto the trailer. We arrived at Mr. Dean's farm around 6:00 p.m. The Peerless now had a new home.

Left to right:Charles Dean, brother from Denton, MD; John Dean, brother from Wilmington, DE; Senator Frederick C. Malkus, with whom Robert Dean served in the Maryland Senate; Mrs. Miriam B. Dean; Mr. Dean's granddaughter Anne, her mother Bonnie (Senator's daughter), and Bonnie's husband John Roschy.

In November, Mr. Dean decided to take the engine apart and get the boiler repaired. In four days time Mr. Dean and I had parts laying all over the ground, and the boiler up on barrels ready to go to the shop. The boiler was taken to the Potts Boiler Works in New Castle, Delaware. The boiler was left with the agreement that it would be worked on part-time, and be finished in about four years.

The restored Peerless was to be Mr. Dean's pride and joy piece of equipment in his collection; but unfortunately, he never lived to see the job through. In March he passed away with a heart attack.

Sixty days after his death, his widow received a call that the boiler work was complete and tested. It had new flues, some stay bolts, a new flue sheet in the front, and some barrel sections installed under the front yoke. All repairs were done ASME welding.

Following his death, Mrs. Dean decided to hold a public auction to dispose of her husband's collection. He had three traction engines, four portable engines, between 12 to 15 stationary engines, and an enormous amount of parts and related equipment. The sale was held on Thursday, August 3rd. It lasted from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. People had come from all over the East Coast and even some buyers from the midwest.

Mr. Dean had been an active charter member of the Tuckahoe Steam & Gas Association of Easton, Maryland. He had been one of the Board of Directors, and very popular with all the members.

At the auction our club bought $20,000.00 worth of his equipment. Mrs. Dean donated the Peerless U-1-2 to the club. The dismantled engine was moved to the show grounds in 1984. We were fortunate that the Potts Boiler Works donated the $4,300.00 cost of repairing the boiler to our club.

In 1986 the Engle Brothers, also charter members of Tuckahoe, decided they would assemble and restore the Peerless. Howard, Melvin, Lee and Wilbur are all steam engine enthusiasts. They are the only known family on Maryland's Eastern Shore that still own their forefathers' equipment that thrashed wheat and sawed lumber by steam power.

Peerless engine #16660 was the pride and joy of the late Robert Dean's extensive farm equipment collection. For the story of this engine's donation to the Tuckahoe Steam & Gas Engine Association.

The U-1-2 and all her parts in boxes were moved to the Engle farm. The Engle brothers worked on her during the winter and Richard Harvey and his son, Eric, built the canopy in early spring.

In the Spring of 1987 she had been fully restored to her former beauty. She was painted and striped, and put on display in the Kent Island Days Parade to advertise the dates of Tuckahoe's 1987 Steam Show.

Mr. Robert Dean had been a Maryland state senator, serving four terms from 1955-1971. He represented the people of Queen Anne's County. His steam power hobby began from the time he left office until his death.

He has been sadly missed by all who knew him as a senator or a steam engine collector.

In his memory the Tuckahoe Steam & Gas Association has named the Peerless U-l-2, 'The Senator'.