Following the Leader

| March/April 1998

25054 Lehigh Dearborn Heights, Michigan 48125-1639

In its July/August issue, IMA was kind enough to print my letter which asked for help understanding the brass tag on the boiler of my 1910 Leader engine. The replies were rather sparse, however one of them was just what the doctor ordered.

I received a reply from Mr. Tom C. Spires of Lancaster, Ohio, a gentleman who is one of the previous owners of this engine. Tom was able to give me the history about this Leader dating back to at least 1955.

Several folks have said that the 'HSBCO' designation probably stands for Hartford Steam Boiler Company, Ohio. Likewise the 'TBCO' probably represents The Brownell Company, Ohio, a conclusion supported by the smoke box door ring which reads, 'The Brownell Company, Dayton, Ohio.' I'm told the 'NB' stands for the National Board number of the manufacturer.

Some of the history of the engine is as follows. In 1955 the Schwilk brothers from near Lancaster, Ohio, purchased the engine from a widow near' Centerburg, Ohio. Tom believes that it was the husband of this widow who either re-boilered the engine or had it done sometime around 1938. The original was probably a lap seam boiler, as the boiler on Tom's all-original 18 HP Leader is lap seam. The barrel is 32' diameter with fifty-five 2' flues, as the most part of the 230 square feet of heating surface.

The engine had seen use as part of a threshing outfit, and when they bought it it was buried over its rims while in service at a sawmill where apparently it had been for some time. Mr. Spires bought the engine from them in 1961 and owned it until 1968. For some years during that period he also owned the aforementioned 1906 Leader 18 HP. In 1968 he sold the 20 HP (my engine) to Mr. Charles Deeds, also of Lancaster, Ohio. As of this writing Tom still owns his 18 HP Leader.