Restoration Of The U-1-2 Peerless 2 – Cylinder Traction Steam Engine

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The ''Senator'' after the dedication.
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Maryland Submitted by George E. Neal 230 North Aurora Easton,
Maryland 21601

Pictured are those who restored the engine. Left to right Wilbur
Engle, Arthur Greene, Howard Engle, Melvin Engle, Mrs. Robert Dean
(the Senator’s wife, who donated the engine to Tuckahoe),
Richard Harvey, Eric Harvey, & Ross Rhodes.

The engine #16660 was built in 1913. It was bought by Mr.
Channing Delaplane of Delaplane, Virginia. He was the owner of a
large fruit orchard operation. The Peerless was used mainly to run
the large generator which furnished power for the packing house
lights and machinery. It was sometimes used to pull stumps, pull a
large road scraper and move wagons from orchard to packing house.
The Peerless was used until about 1928, when the Depression
affected even the fruit packing business.

The Peerless stayed at Delaplane’s until around 1940, when
it was purchased by Mr. Clifford C. Thompson. Its new home was
about 20 miles away. Mr. Thompson used the engine in his saw mill
operation. It was used by him during the World War II era. He
stopped using it in 1945 when he discontinued his business. The
mighty iron horse was run out into the meadow to rest with soot in
her flues and scale in her boiler.

During her long rest, Mother Nature started to take over the
Faithful Machine.

Three decades later, Mr. Robert Dean of Centreville, Maryland,
began hearing stories of an old steam engine in the meadow. He
began to trace her down. His first trip to Virginia proved
unsuccessful. On his second trip, he asked the people in the area
about the engine. With their bits of information, he was able to
find the resting Peerless, but she was not for sale!

Mr. Dean and I were close friends and steam engine hobbyists. We
traveled to many steam shows and auction sales together. We
attended shows and auctions all over the East Coast from Maine to
South Carolina searching for parts to restore our engines. As I,
myself, am an auctioneer, Mr. Dean would rely on me to understand
the bid from the unfamiliar auctioneers.

Around 1977 Mr. Dean and I were returning from a show in
Berryville, Virginia. On the way home he said to me that he would
love to buy that Peerless U-1-2 engine in the meadow. He especially
liked her because it was the same model engine used on his farm to
thrash wheat when he was a boy.

He told me he had stopped five or six times to buy her, but she
was still not for sale. I said to Mr. Dean, ‘Let’s go
there. I have a feeling that the engine could be bought today.’
He replied, ‘I hope you are right.’

After a -hour drive we were on site. I really could not see much
of the engine, only a little part of the water tank. A 6-inch tree
had grown from the bottom of the smoke box right out the top of the
stack. She was completely covered with honeysuckle vines.

After we looked her over Mr. Dean said he was going to talk to
the owner to see if my prediction was right. Away he went up the
steep hill and into the house. I stayed behind in the truck. About
twenty minutes later, he was back at the truck with a different
look on his face. I said to him, ‘Who is right this time?’
He laughed and said ‘I bought her!’

As soon as we arrived home, Mr. Dean wanted to know when we
could bring his Peerless home? In about a month’s time he made
arrangements for a tractor-trailer from the Kingstown M.F. dealer.
The driver was Mr. Arthur Merrick Green, a club member, and his
cousin, Mr. Fred Coursey, accompanied him.

Mr. Dean and I went to Virginia on a Wednesday and made
arrangements with a D-4 Cat to pull the engine from the meadow. The
tractor-trailer arrived Thursday at 9:45 a.m. The Cat went to work.
It pulled the engine from the meadow, out on the road, and then
onto the trailer. We arrived at Mr. Dean’s farm around 6:00
p.m. The Peerless now had a new home.

Left to right:Charles Dean, brother from
Denton, MD; John Dean, brother from Wilmington, DE; Senator
Frederick C. Malkus, with whom Robert Dean served in the Maryland
Senate; Mrs. Miriam B. Dean; Mr. Dean’s granddaughter Anne, her
mother Bonnie (Senator’s daughter), and Bonnie’s husband
John Roschy.

In November, Mr. Dean decided to take the engine apart and get
the boiler repaired. In four days time Mr. Dean and I had parts
laying all over the ground, and the boiler up on barrels ready to
go to the shop. The boiler was taken to the Potts Boiler Works in
New Castle, Delaware. The boiler was left with the agreement that
it would be worked on part-time, and be finished in about four
years.

The restored Peerless was to be Mr. Dean’s pride and joy
piece of equipment in his collection; but unfortunately, he never
lived to see the job through. In March he passed away with a heart
attack.

Sixty days after his death, his widow received a call that the
boiler work was complete and tested. It had new flues, some stay
bolts, a new flue sheet in the front, and some barrel sections
installed under the front yoke. All repairs were done ASME
welding.

Following his death, Mrs. Dean decided to hold a public auction
to dispose of her husband’s collection. He had three traction
engines, four portable engines, between 12 to 15 stationary
engines, and an enormous amount of parts and related equipment. The
sale was held on Thursday, August 3rd. It lasted from 9 a.m. to 3
p.m. People had come from all over the East Coast and even some
buyers from the midwest.

Mr. Dean had been an active charter member of the Tuckahoe Steam
& Gas Association of Easton, Maryland. He had been one of the
Board of Directors, and very popular with all the members.

At the auction our club bought $20,000.00 worth of his
equipment. Mrs. Dean donated the Peerless U-1-2 to the club. The
dismantled engine was moved to the show grounds in 1984. We were
fortunate that the Potts Boiler Works donated the $4,300.00 cost of
repairing the boiler to our club.

In 1986 the Engle Brothers, also charter members of Tuckahoe,
decided they would assemble and restore the Peerless. Howard,
Melvin, Lee and Wilbur are all steam engine enthusiasts. They are
the only known family on Maryland’s Eastern Shore that still
own their forefathers’ equipment that thrashed wheat and sawed
lumber by steam power.

Peerless engine #16660 was the pride and joy of the late Robert
Dean’s extensive farm equipment collection. For the story of
this engine’s donation to the Tuckahoe Steam & Gas Engine
Association.

The U-1-2 and all her parts in boxes were moved to the Engle
farm. The Engle brothers worked on her during the winter and
Richard Harvey and his son, Eric, built the canopy in early
spring.

In the Spring of 1987 she had been fully restored to her former
beauty. She was painted and striped, and put on display in the Kent
Island Days Parade to advertise the dates of Tuckahoe’s 1987
Steam Show.

Mr. Robert Dean had been a Maryland state senator, serving four
terms from 1955-1971. He represented the people of Queen Anne’s
County. His steam power hobby began from the time he left office
until his death.

He has been sadly missed by all who knew him as a senator or a
steam engine collector.

In his memory the Tuckahoe Steam & Gas Association has named
the Peerless U-l-2, ‘The Senator’.

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