RR 13, Box 209, Brazil, Indiana 47834
This is a catalog illustration of Scheidler Machine Works about
1900. The machine work and engine assembly was done in the two
story building on the left. Boilers were built in the boiler shop
on the right. A completed Scheidler portable steam engine sits in
the yard between the buildings as does a boiler which has just been
In the 1850s Reinhardt Scheidler was employed as a mechanic for
the Newark Machine Works in Newark, Ohio. By 1864 this company was
sold. Scheidler, along with Patrick McNamar, formed a partnership
company to build portable steam engines, boilers and sawmills.
After twenty years of operation in 1880, Scheidler had sold his
interest in the Scheidler-McNamar partnership and built a new plant
on South Third Street in Newark. The partnership was dissolved
because of Reinhardt’s differences with Patrick McNamar, who
replaced his father in 1868. Some of the differences were that
McNamar refused to build a traction steam engine until he had
finished building a spur gear differential, as he did not trust the
bevel gear differential. Another problem was that McNamar insisted
that all engine valve gear was double-ported balanced slide valve
Scheidler went into the steam engine building business by
himself, and in his new factory could now build steam engines the
way he wanted to build them. In 1882 he built a traction engine
which sold for $1,000. This was a unique engine, as Scheidler had
not yet designed a differential gear, so this engine did not have a
differential but had two long levers which threw the bull pinion
out of gear on the side of the engine which the operator wished to
turn. This system was very unsatisfactory, as the gears were prone
to break and as Scheidler sold the engine with a warranty; the
engine was later fitted with a bevel gear differential.
Scheidler engines were built many different ways; the engine
could be purchased with a balanced ‘D’ valve or
Scheidler’s piston valve design. Other options were with or
without a clutch and with or without a super heater at the base of
the stack. The main drawback of the engines was Scheidler did not
use staybolts to fasten the crown sheet to the boiler but used a
crown sheet support that he patented. Scheidler’s design used
crown bars hot riveted lengthwise to the crown sheet. Each pair of
crown bars was spaced so that the head of a 5/8′ machine bolt
would be held in the slots of the crown bars. These bolts could be
spaced as desired during final assembly. The inside of the boiler
wagon top also had crown bars riveted to it, which supported
5/8‘ machine bolts. Nuts were fastened to
the 5/8‘ machine bolts which were
tightened to the desired tension.
A Scheidler protable steam engine which sits inside the building
where it was assembled many years ago. This engine was built just
before Reinhardt Scheidler’s death in 1903.
Scheidler engines were all built with the valve gear on the
outside of the cylinder which eliminated the need for a valve
eccentric and allowed the boiler to be lowered to a point that
would just clear the boiler. Traction engines used a sliding
intermediate gear to move the engine which turned on the shaft at
all times, and was claimed to cause less wear on the engine shaft
pinion than other types of design.
Scheidler built traction engines from a ten horsepower with a 7
x 10′ cylinder to a twenty horsepower with a 9 x 12′
cylinder. Stationary engines were from 16 horsepower with an 8 x
10′ cylinder to 125 horsepower with a 13 x 16′
During the 1890s competition was fierce among the steam engine
manufacturers of Newark, Ohio, as three companies were building
traction engines in the city: Scheidler, McNamar and Walker.
Scheidler proved he was the best showman and built a road engine
for advertising. This road engine had an engine that was much
larger than the boiler, flat cleated rear wheels and the front
wheels were a larger diameter than the wheels normally would be.
Scheidler’s road engine was able to run a half mile track in
two minutes with its governor or 15 miles per hour. This was quite
a feat with steel wheels and chain steering.
During the local county fair, a Walker steam engine put on a
demonstration where it raised and lowered a basket of pig iron from
a limb on a stout oak limb using a chain and pulley. Scheidler
heard about the demonstration and not wanting to be out-shown by a
Newark competitor, let it be known that his road engine could
easily duplicate the stunt. Scheidler’s road engine appeared at
the fair the next morning equipped with spade lugs, or mud hooks as
they were known at the time. Scheidler’s son was the engineer
and was given precise instructions before the pull. After young
Scheidler was hooked to the load and given the start signal, he
backed up, lunged forward purposely never looking back. The basket
of pig iron, weighing several tons, reached the pulley and the oak
limb snapped. Down came the load of pig iron, pulley, chains and
tree limb. Young Scheidler, looking straight ahead, dragged the
whole mess over to the Scheidler factory lot.
Reinhardt Scheidler was a well respected businessman in Newark,
who for many years was treated to a birthday parade which started
at the crack of dawn. The day would start with Scheidler’s road
engine arriving in front of his house pulling a special parade
wagon and tooting its whistle. A brass band was present for the
occasion and Scheidler was seated for the twelve mile ride to
Buckeye Lake Park.
If you visited the Scheidler factory you would be greeted by the
sight of several rusting Scheidler boilers brought in for repair or
junking. These boilers were present as long as the boiler shop
stood and almost every boiler had the crown sheet blown down.
Scheidler’s persistence in using his poor design of crown
bar supports instead of staybolts in fact cost him his life. On
April 29, 1903, at 4:30 p.m. Reinhardt Scheidler was presiding over
an engine under test in the Scheidler yard when it exploded.
Scheidler was on top of the engine checking the repair work
(probably crown support repair) and examining (or adjusting) the
safety valve when the crown sheet blew. The engine was blown off
the boiler and flew in a circle landing fifty feet away on a corner
of the boiler shop. The flywheel was thrown clear of the engine and
landed on First Street and broke as if it were made of glass.
Scheidler was killed instantly when a piece of metal imbedded in
his head. Several workmen who were near the engine were injured.
The force of the explosion was such that until a few years ago, the
repaired brick in the side of the building could easily be
The Scheidler Machine Works building as it looks today. It is
used to house the Institute of Industrial Technology which is a
museum which displays much of the county’s industrial past.
Scheidler engines also had problems with the Scheidler patent
piston valve, which leaked badly with a little wear. The last
eighteen horsepower Scheidler traction engine which was built
around 1920 was returned to the factory to have a balanced
‘D’ valve installed to replace the piston valve.
Scheidler engines sold well and were shipped to the East Coast.
No record exists of the total number of engines built, but reports
were told of seeing ten Scheidler engines on the erection floor at
one time. Scheidler engines were compact and many steam men
misjudged the amount of power they could produce until they saw a
Scheidler engine work.
Even after Scheidler’s death in 1903, the company continued
to build and prosper as the demand for engines remained strong for
many years thereafter. Little or no design changes were made after
Scheidler’s death and the same crownsheet support which caused
the death of company founder was used in every Scheidler engine as
was the use of pipe for rear wheel spokes on all traction
The Scheidler engine design varied constantly and Reinhardt
Scheidler held more than sixty seven patents on steam engine design
and attachments during his lifetime. With less demand for steam
engines, the Scheidler factory became more of a custom machine shop
and less of a steam engine factory. The last engines were built
Today you can still visit one of the Scheidler factory buildings
at 55 South First Street in Newark, Ohio. The building which was
used to build the engines and assemble them on the boilers is
painted with company advertising on the outside as it was many
years ago. This building is now home to the Museum of Industrial
Technology, which is a museum preserving the industrial heritage of
the county. The museum has a portable Scheidler steam engine on
display along with many interesting exhibits. With a little
imagination you can almost see the rusting Scheidler boilers lying
outside the building all with their crown sheets blown down.