Bill Lamb's Reminiscences: PART 2


| March/April 1995



735 Riddle Road Cincinnati, Ohio 45220

Album readers may recall the first installment of Bill Lamb's reminiscences in the July/August, 1994 issue. Now for more of the story:

Lexington, Kentucky, holds the charms of horse farms, miles of board fence, trees as glorious as any at Tara, and velvety bluegrass. Lexington (or nearby Nicholasville) also boasts a steam-engine authority in the person of William M. Lamb. His is no passing acquaintance with the iron giants of the agricultural past and the history of railroading; Bill knows engines from firsthand experience in Kentucky and Missouri when he was a young man and from observation in numerous states after the advent of threshing reunions. Scarcely an old-time engineer can be named whom Bill does not know. He has met them, swapped stories with them, and tuned their engines' valve motions.

I first met Bill on a hazy August morning at the Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Show outside Georgetown, Ohio. On a point of rising ground above the valleys blanketed with fog, stood a 22 horsepower Farquhar owned by Todd Slone, a 23 HP Frick owned by the Murphy brothers, a 19 HP Keck-Gonnerman (the next-to-the-last one built) owned by David E. Dunn, and a 17 HP Sawyer-Massey portable owned by Thomas Buller. I thought how the Frick loomed larger than any Fricks I had seen before, when Bill sauntered over. In overalls and cap, Bill looked like the engineer he is. Had it not been a plastic gallon bottle of water, I would have guessed it was a jug of something stronger which Bill deftly swung along his forearm for a swig.

'You won't see Fricks any bigger than that,' he began, as though he were reading my mind. 'That's a powerful engine and a good one. It was built in Pennsylvania with that Dutch-made perfection.'

Bill motioned me over, gestured toward the steel engine-mounting, and explained, 'Almost all Fricks matched those tough Canadian standards. See, this engine is supported by wings and a frame. It's not bolted to the boiler anywhere.' He pointed to the girders running from the pedestal at the front of the boiler, to a platform at the back. 'Those channel beams hook on here 'another gesture' to the side plates, which strengthen the rear axle 'yet another gesture' and the countershaft. The engine and boiler may seem to be all one thing, but they're really two things resting separately on all this framework.'