All The Big Engines Are Not In The West-How About This In The East!

| September/October 1983

With many years of traveling throughout the states in search of steam engines and being a collector of engines myself and the owner of 12, I would like to say that one of the nicest restored steam traction engine collections that I have ever seen is owned by a friend of mine, Willis R. Abel of Finleyville, Pennsylvania.

Willis bought his first engine in 1966 which was a 1920 25/75 Russell which was made in Massilon, Ohio. The Russell was purchased from Zeno Hawk of Dover, Ohio. The Russell was completely disassembled by Willis and spread out in parts until reassembling. He put in a new tube sheet, new firebox, new grates, wheel bearings, cleats, water tanks, steam pump and flues, new roof and new platform. The Russell had been shown at the annual Tri State Historical Association every year since completion at both the Dean Fullerton Farm and Hookstown Fairgrounds.

The second engine that Willis acquired was a 1912 110 Case from Dean Redd which was formerly owned by Charles Harrison in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. The Case was hauled in by two flatbed truck loads to Mt. Vernon from Fargo, North Dakota. (The story of hauling it was in the July/August 1951 issue of IMA.) After Willis became the owner of this engine, he rebuilt it with new shafts, babbitt bearings, crank pin, crosshead pin, stainless steel valve and piston rod.

In 1981 Willis bought his third engine, a 1918 50 H.P. Peerless, from Don Short of Hookstown, Pennsylvania. It had been previously owned by Martin R. Good, Jr. of Fort Defiance, Virginia. Since acquiring this engine, Willis has rivetted in a new flue sheet, new tubes, new grates and a new roof. At the Hookstown show in 1981, Don Short contributed a shiny Big T whistle to Willis to place on the little beauty. Willis then rebuilt a water wagon to be pulled by his Peerless. What a handsome rig this makes.

This is a picture of Willis and me standing along side the 1907 120 HP two cylinder 23 engine when it was at my place before Willis restored it. Submitted by Sam Osborne.

Back view of the 120 HP Z3 in action at the Hookstown Show in 1982. That's both of us under the roof! A good view of the lettering and pin striping can be seen on the back of the water tanks. Submitted by Sam Osborne.