Our Peerless Engine

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Removing cylinder and engine bed after sandblasting.
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The boiler of the Peerless
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The Peerless, dismantled in the basement.
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Kristi Scholl helping with the restoration.
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The Little Steamer at the local fair, Boone, North Carolina, Summer 1983.
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Reassembly, Summer 1982
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The Peerless in the Fall of 1982.

Rt. 1, Box 459-A Sugar Grove, North Carolina

In late June, 1981, my brother, our two children, and I went to
the Estate sale of the late Col. D.E. Price, Creston, North
Carolina. Among various pieces of antique machinery, stood the
Peerless ‘D’. The little steamer was billed to be in
excellent condition. The auctioneer’s opinion of excellent and
mine differ greatly.

The ravages of time had taken its toll on the smoke box. You
could stick your head through what used to be the bottom. The flues
looked fairly new. Inside the firebox things looked good until I
saw where the fusible plug center had been replaced with a bolt and
gasket; some never live to tell about such mistakes. There were no
grates, only one grate bar; ash pan holders were broken and door
was broken. The exterior of the boiler looked extra good, no welds
or repaired stay bolts.

The engine was free, but some parts were badly worn. The
Pickering governor was completely worn out., Somewhere along the
way the front axle had slipped several inches off center, and the
rear axle was shifted to one side. The entire brake system and
front truss rods were missing.

Many thoughts were going through my mind, all of those long hard
hours to restore it back to original condition, but the enjoyment
of hearing that first chug always outweighs the hard work.

By now the sale had begun. There were a number of our collector
friends in attendance, all were curious to see who would get the
little steamer. During the course of the day, I talked to Mrs. Ruth
Price. She called the Peerless ‘The Little Steamer’; it had
been used throughout the Rock Creek Community for powering a small

That afternoon the auctioneer finally got down to selling the
Peerless. It looked as if my luck had run out. One bidder in
particular, seemed bent on owning that little steamer. With one
last hope, I raised the bid $500.00; everyone became quiet, finally
the auctioneer rang out with ‘SOLD’!

After the sale was over, we pushed the Peerless back in the
barn. Several weeks later our daughter Kristi, age 9, our son Jody,
age 2, and I went to move our new treasure home. Mrs. Price agreed
to send me some history about the little steamer. The engine was
originally owned by her father-in-law, Rev. Ben C. Price. After
Rev. Price died, the engine was sold to help pay family expenses.
During the early 50’s, Col. D.E. Price discovered the little
engine at Tilley’s Antiques, Hillsville, Virginia. John
Midkiff, owner, agreed to sell the engine to Col. Price. The little
steamer was moved back to its home on Rock Creek in May, 1958.

After getting the Peerless to our home, my dad, M. L. Scholl,
helped me hydrostatic test the boiler. At 150 pounds, we had only
some minor leaks. Later that summer, I hauled the Peerless to Link
Iron Works, Hickory, North Carolina, to have a new smoke box bottom
installed. Upon hauling the little steamer back home, I proceeded
to remove small engine parts, plumbing, and to protect all brass
and machine surfaces with duct tape. I rented a sand blaster and
did the major cleaning, all down to bare metal.

Dad and I backed the Peerless in the basement of our home with
my 1934 Caterpillar 20. During the days and weeks to follow for the
next year, I cleaned, repaired, primed, and put 2 finish coats of
paint on all the parts. The only remaining parts on the boiler were
large studs and the crankshaft lower bearings. We painted the
boiler with a graphite heat resisting black.

At Christmas time, my wife, Judy, gave me two Peerless
re-prints, 1889 and 1910. The specifications showed our ‘D’
to be rated at 4 H.P. Robert Johnson from Georgia, sent me some
color photos of an ‘F’ he restored, and also said or
‘D’ #10343 was built in December, 1904.

In between the Lord’s work, family, full-time job, etc., we
kept plugging away o the Peerless. New axle, hub caps, ash pan
holders, and grate bars, were all cast in Tennessee. Grates were
fashioned by welding 2′ mine rail together. The axle ends were
straightened, front coil spring repaired, governor was equipped
with new cross shaft, bearings and new springs, new studs for ash
pan and firebox door were installed. Engine parts were finished in
green, wheels are red and pin striping in yellow. All the work on
our little steamer was aided by our daughter, our son, and my very
patient wife.

I poured new bearings for the valve eccentric and opposite end
of the valve slide connecting rod. The articles written in IMA and
GEM on pouring bearings were very helpful.

It is an annual event for us to display at the Threshers Reunion
in Denton, North Carolina, during the 4th of July. While looking
over Joe Millers’ 1902 Peerless ‘D’, I discovered that
our engine was missing the original cast cover that holds the valve
slide in position. Jeff Hutchings, host of the East Tennessee
Crank-Up, agreed to have one cast from one that he had. Jeff and
his family have been good friends for many years.

The remainder of the summer was spent putting the engine back
together and re-plumbing the boiler. I equipped it with a new
Lunken heimer Safety Valve set at 100 pounds, new fusible plug, and
Dad gave me an extra whistle.

We are members of the Carolina Fly-Wheelers, Boone, North
Carolina. One week prior to our Autumn Leaves Crank-Up, I put
another test on the boiler. Things went sour when the firebox
corner fittings for blow down and front cleanout started leaking.
My brother, Don, works at ‘Tweetsie’, a narrow gauge steam
railroad. They are equipped to completely rebuild steam
locomotives. We fixed the leaks on Thursday. Dad and I built our
first fire in the little steamer on Friday. What a thrill to have
the Peerless running. We made it to our club’s show Saturday,
just in time.

Last summer, we displayed the little steamer at our local fair.
Over 80,000 people attended this event. In October, we exhibited
again at our local club show at Boone, North Carolina. This time,
we belted the Peerless to Frank Hodge’s Meadows gristmill. It
powered the mill with ease.

I was born in 1948, at Hilliard, Ohio, and a former member of
Miami Valley Steam Threshers Association. My family and I moved to
the mountains of North Carolina in 1966. I thank God for the many
talents he has given me, and also for a desire to preserve a part
of our past for future generations.

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