Port Huron Double Steam Engines

| July/August 1957

  • Port Huron High Wheeler
    LeRoy Blaker, of Alvordton, Ohio, standing beside the 25-80 hp Port Huron High Wheeler owned by Mr. W. M. Jones, of Winchester, Kentucky.

  • Port Huron High Wheeler

Many people never knew the Port Huron Engine & Thresher Co. built double tandem compound steam traction engines.

They built a number of them from about 1907 to 1912, and guaranteed they would run on less fuel and water than any cross-compound engine. Nevertheless, personally I always liked the Reeves cross-compound engine as an economical and easy handling engine.

I am enclosing a photo of a nice high wheel 25-80 Port Huron double owned by Mr. W. M. Jones, of Winchester, Kentucky. This picture was taken last February before Mr. Jones had it completely rebuilt and painted. This size engine and boiler is the same as the 22-70, but carried 190 pounds working pressure when new. The remarkable part of this engine is the 90-inch-high and 24-inch-wide driving wheels, heavy gearing, large platform with big water tanks and coal carrying capacity. It was built for road rolling and heavy freighting.

When I was over to Port Huron the latter part of March, I was told by one of their old boilermakers that they built less than 25 of these high wheelers. He said a road contractor in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, bought two of them about 1910 and when the work for them was done offered them for sale. This boilermaker, Charlie Gardner, heard they were for sale and went to Harrisburg and bid higher than the scrap dealer and got the pair for $300. Mr. Gardner said the engines were about like new, and he would have bid as high as $3,000 for them if necessary.

Also while at Port Huron, I was told that the 90-inch-high wheels were cast in another city. The rims were poured in three places at the same time to get a good pour, and the hubs were poured the next day. The 1930 Port Huron catalog has a photo and description of this “Monstrosity” as some people might call it. It weighs about 15 tons and has 6-inch axle shafts.

I do not know how many 22-70 or 30-90 double tandem compounds were built, but was told they built only five of the 38-120 hp double tandem-compounds. This size used the 32-100 hp boiler with 9-foot tubes, 6-by-10-inch cylinders with 10-inch stroke. It had a 4-inch crankshaft, also 4-inch countershaft, and regular 26-by-72-inch self-cleaning drive wheels.

The records at Port Huron show that engine No. 5970 was a 38 hp double with steel gearing, 108-inch tubes, jacket, loco cab and canopy top. It was delivered to the paint shop October 16, 1907, at 5 p.m., and shipped to Seeber Bros., at Champaign, Illinois on October 26, 1907.


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