The Old Peerless

Engine

Engine after having new smoke box installed.

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8497 Yorkridge Road Guilford, Indiana 47022

This engine has graced the pages of IMA several times in the past, most recently in the September/October 1994 issue on page 20. The article and photo were submitted by Lloyd Creed, Danville, Illinois. Mr. Creed also sent in an article a couple of years ago telling how he tried to purchase the engine when it was sitting in Rockville, Indiana.

It has been mentioned several other times in the past, as one of the previous owners was the late Ray Jones. Ray was a retired railroad engineer and also served as president of the Pioneer Engineer's Club of Indiana for 22 years. Throughout his entire life Ray has been devoted to steam one way or another.

The earliest known history of the engine begins in the mid-1950s, when Ray Jones purchased it near Doe Hill, Virginia. He brought it home to Sunman, Indiana, where it was restored by Ray and several friends.

If anyone knows of the engine prior to this, please write to IMA or me, Timothy Trabel. It is a 1909 model TT, 16 HP, serial #14170.

Ray took the engine to various shows over the years, mainly the Rushville, Indiana, show, until it was sold again in 1970 or 1971.

From Sunman, Indiana, the engine went to Rockville, Indiana. The next owners, Joe and Emit Ford, used the engine on a shingle mill at a festival in Rockville for several years. Then for reasons unknown to me, the engine was parked in a fence row and left to rot. Then about 1990 the engine was sold again, this time at public auction to the Pickett family of Brazil, Indiana. They gave the engine a much needed paint job and used it for display in front of a store in Brazil, Indiana.

The engine appeared again in IMA, this time in the classified section of the January/February 1993 issue. I received my issue in mid-December 1992 and called about the engine. The next day I went to look at it, and on the second trip I was shown old boiler inspection papers and discovered the engine was previously owned by Ray Jones. A deal was struck, and on December 31, 1992 the engine was hauled home to a small town in southeastern Indiana called Yorkville, approximately four miles from Sunman, Indiana.

As soon as the weather warmed up, restoration began. The only thing that was still attached to the boiler was the engine bed and the front and rear axle assemblies along with the wheels. The engine then went to B&B Steam Restoration, Newpoint, Indiana, to get a new smokebox and lower section of the flue sheet installed. It appeared that the engine sat for a long time with the stack uncovered, rusting the smokebox out on the bottom. It was also rusted very thin where the smokestack attached.

While the engine was at B&B, the rest of the parts were cleaned, repaired, and painted. When it arrived home from B&B the wheels were removed, the boiler was cleaned and painted, the wheels got a new set of wooden spokes, and a new canopy was made along with a new platform and coal bunker. Piece by piece the engine went back together, slowly but surely.

Thanksgiving Day 1993 we decided to fire the engine for the first time, as it was an unseasonably nice day for that time of year. In the morning I filled the boiler and tanks, put some wood in the firebox, and got everything ready. We went to my parents' house for our traditional Thanksgiving dinner at noon. By 2:00 p.m. we were on our way home, with the rest of the family not far behind, to start the fire.

By 4:00 p.m. the old Peerless was running again after sitting idle for 20 or so years. I was very proud on that Thanksgiving Day, because this was my first engine restoration project and, other than the boiler work, I did everything myself, right down to the pinstriping and lettering. Except for a few minor leaks and adjustments, the engine performed flawlessly.

The summer of 1994 my wife and I took the engine to the Pioneer Engineer's Club of Indiana's 46th annual reunion in Rushville, Indiana, and to the Power of the Past Show in Greensburg, Indiana. We also attended the local county fair with the engine.

Timothy and Mary Trabel, 8497 Yorkridge Rd., Guilford, Indiana 47022, own the 1909 model TT 16 HP Peerless, serial #14170, shown on the cover. You'll find Timothy's profile of the engine, titled 'The Old Peerless,'.

We had a good time this past summer meeting new friends, young and old; the old with stories to tell and the young wanting to hear stories. As I am only 34 years old I couldn't tell many stories yet, but who knows, after a few more shows I should have a few to tell!