Engine Documentation

| July/August 1993

Jr., President The Old Time Historical Assn., Inc. P. O. Box 220 Climax, North Carolina 27233

How important is documentation to the engine collector? Very, very important!!! With the original records, or copies of the original records, the engine becomes a part of history. It has a pedigree that keeps it from being just another engine. With good documentation you can prove when, how, and for whom it was made, who used it, where and for what purpose. The more information you have about your engine the better. In many cases the proper documentation makes the value of an engine many times greater.

When manufacturing shop drawings are available, restoration becomes easier because you don't have to guess and scratch your head as much. Easier on the old 'noggin' also! In the case of a steam engine and boiler, the boiler drawing and/or the factory inspection certificate will help make the state boiler inspector happy. By all means, keep him happy!!! The modern boiler inspector is well educated and experienced in modern industrial boilers, but usually doesn't know 'beans' about our old boilers and would just as soon not learn, because he sees them as big trouble with a capital 'T'. Therefore, in some cases, good documentation is the difference between approval or disapproval. Collectors shouldn't take any documentation lightly.

Frick steam engine owners are fortunate because they can still get copies of the original Frick shop drawings, engine and boiler records used in the manufacture of their respective engines. Owners of most other make engines are not so fortunate.

Although Frick built some steam engines before 1876, evidently records were not kept or were lost. In 1876, formal records began with engine #251. These records were handwritten in a bound book giving the date, engine number and a brief description, but no boiler number. On June 21, 1889, they began recording boiler numbers, with boiler #1715 for engine #4751. This indicates that earlier boilers were numbered, but were not recorded.

On May 23, 1913, with engine #16451, a loose leaf specification sheet type record was put in use for engines, listing the major components by number, any extras, remarks, and signed by the shop foreman. February 23, 1914, with boiler #12809 for engine #17065, the loose leaf specification sheet type record was put in use for boilers, listing the steel supplier, major specification and test. These loose leaf records provide a lot of information about the engines and boilers, such as the boiler drawing number, whether the boiler conforms to ASME code, whether the boiler was inspected at the factory, the state of inspection, the inspection number and the insurance company making the inspection and their policy number. Every Frick owner should have copies for his engine and boiler.


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