BRITON JOINS U.S. COLLECTORS' RANKS


| March/April 1980



David Gray with Fowler

David Gray with Fowler 14910 during restoration.

A British engineer brought his interest in steam with him when he moved to Long Island, and is becoming a valuable member of the ranks of collectors in this country.

David J. I. Gray comes from a steam family, since he had a great grandmother who was a Stephen-son, related to George Stephenson the famous inventor. As a boy of ten, watching Aveling & Porter steam road rollers, Gray decided to become an engine driver. He recalls seeing plowing engines pressed back into service during World War II, while overhead Hurricane fighter planes chased a pair of German bombers.

He describes the plowing process:
'One engine was situated at each end of the field, parallel with its partner and joined by a wire cable running from the horizontal winding drums situated under their boilers. In between was a tilt-type plough that was first drawn up the field by one engine only to be drawn back down again by the other. Each engine moved forward a few feet and the operation continued until the field was completely ploughed, furrow by furrow.'

He joined John Fowler & Company, one of the outstanding names in steam engine manufacture, as an engineer in 1949. In the mid-1950s he was in New Zealand, returning then to England.

He attended his first rally as a spectator in 1959 with his son, Stuart, aged five. The British rallies were in their infancy, but growing in popularity. By the time Stuart was 15, the two were regular visitors and participants.

'In 1970,' he writes, 'we became the owners of our first engine, an Aveling & Porter 10-ton road roller, maker's number 10346, built in 1922.' This engine is a piston-valve; two-cylinder compound and was in need of some basic restoration in the form of new tubes, fire box repair and a new chimney and brass top, new boiler lagging plates and lagging. This completed, it was then painted and striped in the maker's traditional colors.'