The Last Russell To Leave the Factory!

Russell engine

Russell engine #01732 ready to be moved and lifted by the crane in the old Russell factory.

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T. W. Diehl Restorations 101 S. Main St. Navarre, Ohio 44662

If you have been collecting or have an interest in old equipment, I am sure you have run into someone who claims to have, or to know of, the last item made by one company or another. This story, however, is about the last engine to leave the Russell factory. Yet more amazing is the date she left, July 16, 1992, and the fact that she was neither sold nor scrapped as is so often the case, but donated to The Massillon Museum by Hydro-Dyne, Inc. of Massillon, Ohio, present occupants of the former Russell factory.

Hydro-Dyne originally contacted John Klassen, director of the Massillon Museum, expressing a desire to dispose of the Russell stationary engine which had been in their building since they acquired it in 1967. In turn, John contacted us (as we had formerly restored a 12 HP Russell traction engine for the museum back in 1991), to see if we would be interested in doing another Russell for their collection.

My first meeting at the old Russell factory was disappointing. After presenting my evaluation of the situation and placing a value on the engine, the comment was made that Hydro-Dyne thought she was worth much more, and that they had hoped to sell her to the museum.

The second meeting was much more to my liking. I was pleased to meet Hydro-Dyne president Roseanne Dare and pleasantly surprised to learn of her interest in local history. Two weeks later it was official: Russell engine #01732 was donated to the Massillon Museum by Hydro-Dyne, Inc.

Hydro-Dyne president Roseanne Dare officially presents the Russell to Massillon Museum director John Klassen. Photo courtesy of The Independent.

On July 16, 1992 we moved her from the Russell factory to our shops in Navarre, Ohio, to begin restoration for display and possible operation in the main lobby of the museum.

Engine #01732 weighs in at 6,064 pounds and was built between 1894 and 1906 with a 10' bore and 12' stroke. Built for use in the Russell factory, she'd never been painted and had apparently been hooked directly to a line shaft. Her flywheel is missing and was probably lost years ago when she was moved. For display in the museum, we are looking for a flywheel 50' to 60' in diameter by 10' to 15' wide. Any help you readers might be able to give us would be greatly appreciated.

The gentleman who operated the crane the day we moved engine #01732 told me that he had adopted the old Russell and for the past thirty years had moved her every time she was in the way. This, no doubt, helped save her from the scrap man.

The old overhead crane still worked and ran through what was once the assembly floor. It was quite an experience witnessing the last Russell lifted by the old crane and watching her move down the now silent and nearly empty assembly floor. I could only imagine what it was like 80 years ago when the assembly area was bustling with workers and crowded with new Russell machinery.

The Russell project is now well underway at our shops at 101 South Main Street in Navarre, Ohio. Visitors are welcome, with morning hours being the best bet and a phone call recommended in advance. The shop is (216) 879-5669.

Other projects currently underway that may interest readers include a 1926 Erie steam shovel, a 30' gauge Porter steam locomotive, and a traction engine or two.