A Hobby of the Murphys

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911 Accommodation Road Wilmington, Ohio 45177

Fred Sewell took this picture at the Clinton County Antique
Power Club’s show in Wilmington, Ohio. Left to right are
brothers Warren ‘Charlie,’ Glenn ‘Speed,’ Maxwell
‘Mackie’ Murphy brothers, was absent from the picture. Read
about the Murphys in this issue.

In 1973, Glenn ‘Speed’ made a deal for he and his
brothers to purchase a two cylinder 7 x 10 Frick steam engine. This
was our first engine, so we had a lot to learn.

The arrival of the engine was greeted by many in the Murphy
family at the home of ‘Speed,’ just a stone’s throw
from the junction of Interstate 71 and U.S. 68. We were anxious for
our first project, that was to drive the engine to my farm some
seventeen miles away to do some threshing of wheat. This trip took
a whole day with a small problem steam! Our fire was very sluggish
with just enough steam to run on.

The next day I took a look inside the smoke box to find the
problem the exhaust nozzle was gone. I cobbled one up and installed
it. The next time it was fired up, there was enough steam to run
it. This was quite an improvement, so a permanent nozzle was made
and my son, Wayne, welded it on. One problem solved!

Another small problem demanded our attention. The valves needed
to be reset, so here we go Maynard Harris, a friend of the family
(older, wiser and with steam engine experience), was on one side
and I was on the other. Speed sat on a little red wagon reading the
instructions from a book. But the instructions were not working.
Speed was reading about a one-cylinder engine we had a
two-cylinder. We asked him to close the book so we could finish.
Job well done!

The Frick was built in 1921 and sold in 1923. During the winter
of 1994-1995 it was rebuilt by Speed’s son, John Murphy, in his
machine shop. The boiler was stripped down and laid on the floor.
We replaced the flue box lining, both flue sheets and flues, all
stay bolts and the bottom half of the barrel. This overhaul gave us
almost a new boiler. It should last another 50 years. Our Frick
double is a very smooth engine to work. There is no dead center or
jerking to move about. It is a pleasure to run.

The Frick is displayed annually at our home show, the Clinton
County Corn Festival on the Clinton County Fairgrounds, Wilmington,
Ohio, the weekend following Labor Day. Also it finds a home at the
Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Show near Georgetown, Ohio, the
second weekend of August. This show is very special to me, as I
served on their Board of Directors from 1978-1995. On two occasions
it has been to the Darke County Miami Valley Steam Thresher’s
Reunion in Greenville, Ohio.

In 1975, two years after obtaining the Frick, my son Wayne and I
bought the smallest engine from a gentleman in Xenia, Ohio. It is
shown on the trailer. This engine survived the famous Xenia
tornado, but its canopy and a little fan were blown away, never to
be found. It is a 1/8 scale Advance Rumely
and was built by Harold Ary of Greenville, Ohio. Due to its age,
the boiler developed leaks, so in 1978 we built a complete new
boiler from scratch. Youngsters love this engine because of its
size.

As our interest in steam continued, Wayne and I decided to build
from scratch the middle steam engine. It is a scale 5×6 that was
finished in 1993. Its purpose is unusual. It steams sweet corn as a
food concession with the profits benefiting the new O.V.A.M. Show
Grounds near Georgetown, Ohio. After retiring from farming, my wife
and I moved to my parent’s home on Prairie Avenue, Wilmington,
Ohio. Last summer at the age of 83, it was a joy to fire it up,
blow the whistle and sometimes run it a short distance up and down
Prairie Avenue within the city limits. It gathered second looks
from the city folks.

This fall my wife and I moved ‘back home to the farm’
with my son and his wife. Now I am looking forward to watching him
plant and harvest.

A Footnote from Mackie’s daughter, Mickey Young:

‘I had always wondered why my father and uncles chose a
‘hobby’ that was so much work. Now I understand, as I have
seen the joy it has brought them through the years. You could say
it is a ‘labor of love.’

‘My father has recently given me his share of the Frick
steam engine. I will have my first operating lesson on July 4. They
keep saying something about ‘cleaning the flues out.’ I am
really excited, especially since I do not have to worry about
changing flat tires. Just show me where the key is to turn it
on!!’

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment