A Two-Hobby Trip: Motorcycles And Steamers

1 / 8
The Cranberry Special at the Edaville Railroad.
2 / 8
Plymouth Rock KOA.
3 / 8
Old #7 on the Edaville RR.
4 / 8
Made in China, June 1989. Essex, Connection
5 / 8
Refurbished Russell.
6 / 8
The first time steaming since Scotland 1944.
7 / 8
Ian at the crank of the big engine.
8 / 8
The big engine at Kent;

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia , Canada B2X 2W8

We kissed our wives goodbye on Wednesday, September 26th (we
being John and Ian Moffat, father and son), and with our BMW
motorcycles loaded with camping gear and cameras, set out for
Plymouth Rock,

Massachusetts. The first night, we decided to motel it in Bangor
because of the threat of rain. Next morning, the rain in Maine was
all too plain and we had to envelop ourselves in full rain gear
before starting out. However, after about 150 miles en route we at
last ran into bright sunshine. The rest of the run to the
Pilgrims’ landing site was pleasant indeed.

The first part of our holiday was to attend a BMW motorcycle
rally at Plymouth Rock KOA. Just before the campsite, there was a
roadside advertisement pointing the way to the ‘Toy Train
Museum’. For anyone interested in small scale trains, it is a
very worthwhile stopping place. Most of the exhibits were in HO and
smaller gauges. Although most were of American manufacture there
were also a large contingent from Europe and smaller numbers from
Asia and other continents. Also on display was an elegant 3′
gauge engine which was steam ready, but is never run anymore.

Friday was given up to motorcycling fun, but Saturday Ian and I
were fortunate enough to visit the Edaville Railroad and museum.
Fortunate in two ways, because this particular weekend there was
also a display of antique machinery with some seventy exhibitors
with everything from Maytag two-cycle washing machine engines, to
large make and break engines with flywheels up to five feet in
diameter.

One of the interesting engines there was a Stirling hot air
engine. This is the first one of its size which I have seen in
operation. The Stirling cycle must be the quietest of all power
producers.

The Edaville Railroad was set up with equipment brought from the
Billerica two foot gauge railway in the early Twenties. Between the
80’s of the last century and the 20’s of this, there were a
number of two foot gauge railways running in the States some
hauling wood, others including passengers, and one was even being
used in a cranberry operation.

Ellis D. Attwood purchased the last of the available engines and
passenger cars as well as many miles of track. Today the run is a
little better than five miles long and takes you around a lake,
which is itself surrounded by cranberry bogs. In fact the train is
now labelled the ‘Cranberry Special,’ and while travelling
on it during late September or early October you get a chance to
see the harvesting operation in full swing.

The museum part of the operation has six or seven engines, three
of which are operational and are used to haul the passenger cars
around as well as bring in the loaded crates of cranberries for
sorting. There are also collections of cars, fire engines, and farm
implements.

Sunday, on a short run into Boston, we visited the aquarium and
also the science museum, where there was a display of
interplanetary transport, lunar modules and other machinery related
to space and time. Shadows of Einstein and E=mc squared!

Monday and a short visit to the Haffenreffer Anthropology Museum
in Rhode Island to see an ongoing exhibition of native Canadian
arts and crafts. Exhibits from tribes reaching from the Micmacs and
Maliseets of the eastern provinces to the Haida in the west and
Innu and Eskimo of the far north.

Now to our final destination, Connecticut, with several items on
our agenda. First, the East Hartford Trolley Museum, closed for the
season! Second, Peabody Museum in Yale University. Fantastic
display of prehistoric monsters. Third, the Essex Railroad for a
trip by train and then boat up the Connecticut River by imitation
steamboat.

The engine pulling our trainof 2-8-0 configurationwas built in
1989 in China, the only country still making full size coal fired
steam-powered railway engines. The railroad has four other engines,
two of which are able to work and two of which are not worth
repairing.

At last, the inspiration for the visitthe Connecticut Antique
Machinery Show, to be held in Kent, which we mistakenly thought was
to be open from the 27th-30th inclusive. Ouch! It is to be open
only on the 30th, and by that time we had to be home for Ian to
return to work.

Wednesday, we visited the site of the show and found several
members of the local club polishing and painting a beautiful single
cylinder steam engine with a stroke in excess of three feet and a
bore of approximately eighteen inches. As we had nothing else in
view for the day, we offered our assistance in polishing the metal
parts and spent the rest of the day doing just that. We were
invited to come back on the Friday, because the inspector was
coming to examine the boilers of the staionary engine, as well as
the boilers of a Russell traction engine and a Buffalo steam road
roller.

Friday arrived and we helped raise steam in the two moving
machines, chopping wood and stoking the fires. The big boiler for
the stationary engine is oil fired. After inspection, I was invited
to run both the Russell and the Buffalo. In two minutes, I was
aboard the Russell, and for the first time since I drove an old
Fowler at threshing time back in Scotland I had my hands on the
controls of a steamer. I recall one winter in Scotland I drove
several traction engines, including a Fowler, a Ransome Simms and
Jefries , and a Foden wagon which had a flywheel set up to drive
the thresher

After delivering the Russell to its destination, I walked back
for the Buffalo. It is a two cylinder machine and with about sixty
turns from lock to lock on the stearing gear, I had a real workout
just shuffling the big machine back and forth till I got it pointed
in the right direction.

The big stationary engine, which has a Corliss valve system, had
been the chief motive power in a cotton mill and with a flywheel of
approximately twelve feet in diameter, could be regulated down to
only seven and a half revs per minute.

By late Friday afternoon we started our return journey to Nova
Scotia, which we reached by Sunday evening. We kissed our wives
hello and decided that another such adventure would be undertaken
in 1991.

Ian tells me that it will take at least a year to wipe the smile
off my face after driving the two historic machines.

Perhaps by the end of 1991 I will have my own 2′ scale model
of the 6NHP Fowler ready to steam up, and I’ll be able to get
behind the controls every weekend.

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