Banking on Steam Engine Restoration

Indiana man builds steam engine restoration business


| March 2001



Banking on Steam Engine Restoration 1

A 20 hp Minneapolis undergoing complete restoration.

Bob Crowell

At the dawn of a new millennium, state-of-the-art technology is the hallmark of most professions. For an Indiana man, though, it's the obsolete technology of steam engine restoration that pays the bills. 

In a shop just southeast of Indianapolis, Bob Gold and two full-time employees restore steam engines built nearly 100 years ago. They'll tackle just about any job.

"Whatever somebody wants us to do, we'll attempt it," Bob says. "What we do is as simple as putting in a set of tubes, to taking an engine that looks like a refugee from the scrap yard, and making it a running engine again. We do repairs to fireboxes, make tanks and bunkers, and we'll do oddball jobs. We do a good bit of boiler repair. That's heavier work, and harder, but it's something that most people don't feel confident doing themselves."

B&B Steam Restoration was founded about seven years ago by Bob and partner Barry Moorman (who's no longer with the company). Bob's involvement with steam engines, though, goes back more than 20 years.

"I've been going to steam shows for as long as I can remember. My grandfather was very mechanical, and he was a steam enthusiast," Bob says. "He had been an operator of steam engines in the 1920s and 1930s. He always talked about wanting an engine ... well, he finally bought one, but he never saw it run."

That engine - a 1919 60 hp Case - is Bob's now. The vintage steamer is up and running now, but Bob seldom has time to play.