John Gallahue is in the middle of creating a 2/3-scale model of his Reeves 16 HP steam traction engine and hopes to have it ready for this September's Mt. Pleasant show.
"I want to get it done and my father-in-law, who is 87, wants to see it run," John says.
Originally, his father-in-law had planned on building the model. "I always heard him say he wanted to build one, but he just never did get to it. Probably five or six years ago he said he was too old. By this time I had gathered stuff to build one and I thought I'd do it someday. Then I realized if I didn't get started on this I'd never get it done, because I was saying the same things he did," John says.
The advantage in the scale model is that it can be taken to different shows easier than the big engines, John says. "Instead of needing a semi to haul the big ones, I could put this one on a car-haul trailer and move from show to show if I want to."
John says he took lots of photos and a lot of measurements to get everything he needed for making the 2/3-scale model of the Reeves. "The old literature on the Reeves has the dimensions of the boiler, the number of flues and the wheel size. The 16 HP had certain size wheels and a certain size boiler, and so on. I got some of the dimensions out of that."
The fact that he has his own welding shop also helps him, he says. "I don't know how you'd do something like this without it. I turn stuff down on the lathe, use a milling machine and so on to make a lot of that stuff. It would be tough without it."
So far, the hardest part of the project was finishing the castings and making the connecting rods, and getting the links right on the connecting rods for the engine, John says. "It's a double-cylinder, so you've got to have them as close to perfect as you possibly can. Other than that, it just involves a lot of time. You try to measure twice and cut once to make it a lot easier."
All that remains at the time of writing is some plumbing and mounting the engine. "It doesn't sound like a whole lot, but it takes a lot of time to run all that piping. You need two ways to get water into the boiler's two injectors, or one injector and one steam pump. This one will have two injectors. That's for safety reasons," John says. The boiler has already been tested at 200 psi and will run at half that.