Steaming in Canada



Above: Charles and his son Richard man the engine while Leroy feeds wood through a buzz saw, showing this little engine can really work.

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A Single-cylinder Steam Engine and a Portable Boiler Come Together to Produce One Nice Little Unit

From what we can gather, this engine, manufactured by E. Leonard & Sons, London, Ontario, Canada, was first employed many years ago running a butter churn in a local cheese factory. It was eventually purchased by a Stratford, Ontario, handyman, who installed the engine on a portable boiler he constructed, making for a very nice portable unit.


This style of Leonard engine was patented on Jan. 9, 1877. We do not know for certain when this particular engine was built. It is a center crank single-cylinder and has a 4-inch bore and a 4-inch stroke. The pulley is 20 inches in diameter and 4 inches wide. It has a water pump driven by the cylinder and features a water pre-heater in the exhaust discharge. We don't know its rated horsepower.

The boiler unit was built around 1978. It's 5 feet long, 16 inches in diameter, holds 30 gallons of water and is equipped with 20, 1-1/2-inch flues. Water feed is by one injector on one pump run by the engine. When filled, the complete unit weighs approximately 1,400 pounds.

Leroy Ebersol and I bought this portable engine at an estate auction in Mitchel, Ontario, in August 1997.

After hauling it home to my small workshop, we stripped it down for repairs and restoration. The boiler needed minor repairs (done by a certified welder), and we replaced all the piping with new schedule 80 pipe. The engine needed a new water pump, a few other small repairs, and a lot of cleaning and scrubbing. After all this we repainted it and put the unit back together. We finished the restoration in late 1998.

We now enjoy playing with this engine, buzzing wood with a buzz saw we purchased. It is a great little toy and a pleasure to operate. We pressure tested it to 160 psi, and we run it at 100 psi.

However, if we ever get a chance, we'd like to get a larger portable we could haul with draft horses and that we could use to run a threshing machine. There is a lot of stook threshing done in our area, but very few people who have seen it done by steam power.

I'd like to thank Allan Leis of Waterloo, Ontario, and Tye Coxon of Milverton, Ontario, for their help supplying information on the engine.

Contact steam enthusiast Charles Wagler at: RR1, Atwood, ONT, Canada N0G 1B0; (519) 356-8818. Contact steam enthusiast Leroy Ebersol at: (519) 595-4010.

Editor's note: Charles Wagler says he's heard of one surviving factory-built Leonard portable. To the best of our knowledge, E. Leonard & Sons never produced a steam traction engine, focusing mostly on industrial engines for factory work. If any reader knows of a surviving Leonard portable or has any other information on E. Leonard & Sons, we'd like to hear from you.