A Rusty Wreck


| September/October 1988



Large Case portable engine

R.D. #2, Box 842 West Winfield, New York 13491

I just recently acquired a very rare and early engine, as shown in picture #1. It is a small portable made by the Oneida Iron Works of Oneida, New York. Judging by the style and method of manufacture, I would guess that it was probably built around 1885.

It was found near Rome, New York, about 25 years ago by the late Charley Pierce of Deansboro, New York. The engine was in terrible shape even then. I purchased the engine this March (1988) along with a large Case portable. As you can see in picture #2, the little Oneida is dwarfed by the big Case on the lowboy with it.

Although the boiler is the worst mess I have ever seen, I believe I can weld and patch enough to safely hold 15 pounds pressure. This, hopefully, would be enough to turn the engine over enough for show purposes.

Retrieving the engine on a raw March day was quite an ordeal when wind, snow, and low temperatures teamed up against us. After sawing and chopping trees, brush, and vines my nephew Pablo and I still had to chop up about 12 inches of solidly frozen mud which firmly gripped all four wheels where it had set all these years. Then we had to draw it out backwards using a chain come-along to a point where we could hitch on with a bulldozer to pull it to the lowboy.

Now home in the workshop, restoration is already under way. About 200 hours have been spent so far with no end in sight. A summary of major repairs needed are as follows: smokebox door broken, smokebox ring broken, smokestack completely missing, smokebox itself all gone except the riveted section, flue sheet gone up to the third row of flues, as shown in picture #3, front of barrel rusted through, rear castings smashed from being hit with a bulldozer years ago, and on and on.