Box 381 ,Danville, Illinois 61832
I’ve sent along some pictures of Peerless #14170 which were
taken since it was sold in April 1989. This is the same engine that
is mentioned in my earlier story which was published in the IMA
November/December 1990,page 9. At the time I submitted my story, I
did not know where the engine was located. This engine is now
located in the north part of Brazil, Indiana on Highway 59.
I would like to point out that this engine has wooden spoked
rear wheels and steel spoked front wheels. Does anybody know of
another Peerless similarly equipped?
As I mentioned in my first story about the Peerless, I tried to
buy it several times from Mr. Ford, but he was asking about twice
what I thought it was worth. So when the July/August 1984 issue of
IMA arrived with an M. Rumely engine advertised for sale, we (self,
brother and father) decided to inquire about it.
After a telephone conversation and a couple of quick trips to
southern Illinois, I became the owner of a 1911 M. Rumely steam
engine (#6215). This engine is not like most Rumelys, because it
had the cast front axle, front and rear round spoke wheels, wet
bottom firebox and lap seam boiler. The boiler has a ‘sloping
side’ firebox, which means that the firebox was narrower at the
bottom and widened out at the top.
This engine was advertised to be a 16 horsepower, but we later
confirmed that it was a 20 horsepower from specifications in a
Rumely catalog. Since then, we have seen several pictures of Rumely
engines whose owners claimed them to be 16 horsepower, but I think
that they are really 20 horsepower.
When I got the engine, three flues had plugs in them; it had a
fuel oil tank for a water tank, and no rear platform or coal
bunkers. We knew that we had some work on our hands. This engine
was in the same family from 1911 until 1981. It was used primarily
to power a jaw type rock crusher in the Chester, Illinois area. The
gearing and cleats on the wheels were in excellent condition.
Arrangements were made to haul the engine to my father’s
place about one month after we bought it. Dad and I thought that we
should be present for the loading and transport of the engine. We
had a small surprise, when the mover tried pulling the engine onto
the trailer from an angle, and almost turned the engine over. Steel
wheels slid easily on steel loading ramps. Once the engine was
loaded, the rest of the trip went by without mishap. The same day
we got the engine home, we decided to fire it up and ended up
showing a good number of neighbors what a steam engine with leaky
flues looks like.
The following Veterans Day, we started installing 54 new flues
in the Rumely. We had never put flues in a boiler before, so we
learned a lot during that day. My dad had watched his father put
flues in a 32 horsepower Reeves when he was a little boy. The first
time we fired the Rumely with the new flues, we did not have any
leaks, so I guess Dad did a good job of watching Grandfather.
We saw an advertisement for a sale listing a 16 horsepower M.
Rumely which was near Geff, Illinois. This engine was quite
different from my engine. It had the heavy butt-strap boiler and
flat spoke wheels. Since the boiler was as big or bigger than the
boiler on my engine, I doubt that this engine was a sixteen
horsepower. While we were there, we measured the side water tank to
get dimensions to build tanks for my engine. We measured the
distance between the tank brackets on both engines and found out
they were the same. We had two water tanks built, one for each
side, at a welding shop in Marshall, Illinois. I got measurements
from Fred Nolan’s Keck Gonnerman for coal bunkers, and Dad
built a platform out of diamond plate and channel iron. Dad jacked
up the boiler, removed the caps from the axle bearings, and rolled
both wheels, while still on the axle, away from the boiler. Cleanup
and painting were made much easier by the removal of the wheels.
New metal was installed along with additional nailers to improve
the canopy. The injector was rebuilt by Al New of Pendleton,
Indiana, and we installed new piston rings.
Like the person who buys his first car and realizes that he
would have liked a different model, I realized that this engine was
not exactly what I wanted. My dad had always wanted a plowing
engine and the Rumely was built too light to do a lot of plowing.
My engine was primarily built for beltwork. My brother and father
bought a late model rear mount double cylinder Nichols and Shepard
with butt strap boiler (20-75 horsepower), and I decided to sell
I wanted a steam engine, but did not know of anybody who had an
engine for sale with an ASME stamped boiler. Dad and I looked at
several engines but we did not like anything that we found. Seems
like there are lots of engines for sale, but very few in really
I thought about buying a model and the advantages of a model
versus a large engine. The boiler would not be as old, it could
easily be transported, and it could be stored in a regular garage.
If I were lucky enough to get a model with an ASME stamped boiler,
I would not have to worry about boiler inspections.
After several months, I decided I wanted a model, and since I
live in Illinois, if it had a boiler barrel diameter of 16 inches
or greater, it had to have the ASME stamp. I knew of only one
source for a model with a code boiler and that was Tom Terning.
During the months that I had the Rumely advertised, I had
probably ordered ten of Tom’s price lists. At every show I
attended, I watched for a Terning engine, and questioned the owners
as much as I could. I talked to Russell Helms at the Douglas County
Steam Festival in Arcola, Illinois and he said that I wouldn’t
regret buying a Terning engine. He had purchased a complete Case
half scale, as well as several parts to build a model of an Advance
At the Boonville, Indiana show in October 1989, I became
acquainted with another person exhibiting a Terning engine-Billy
Byrd. I talked to Mr. Byrd about his engine and found out that he
was very pleased with it. He strongly recommended getting the ASME
coded boiler, because he had seen a number of good engines not
being allowed to run, just because they did not have a stamped
After the Rumely sold in December 1989, I contacted Tom Terning
and ordered a one-half scale Case with the ASME coded boiler. I
know that I will enjoy the model more than I did the old Rumely,
but the Rumely taught us about steam engines and therefore will
always be missed.
In closing, I think it would be interesting if all the owners of
Illinois engines sent pictures of their engines to IMA for an
Illinois engine picture feature.