MINIATURE STEAM ENGINES AND BOILERS U. P. Rembold, left, and D.
H. McKee, right, both of Rices Landing stand behind their miniature
display models of steam engines and boilers they have made in the
last few months. Everything except the steam and water gauges were
made by hand.
RICES LANDING Two Kices Landing hobbyists with immeasurable
patience, have constructed model replicas of three different steam
power engines and two steam boilers.
The two retired craftsmen are U. P. (Slim) Rembold, mayor of
Rices Landing, and D. H. (Don) McKee, an expert gardener.
They began their hobby some six months ago having visited a
‘steam engine show’ at Hickory earlier.
They completed their first ‘horizontal engine’ after two
and a half months of cutting, soldering, clamping, wiring and
Combining their last names, they have formed the Remkee works, a
small private concern., Mr. Rembold contributed the first three
letters of his last name and Mr. McKee added the last three letters
of his last namehence, they formed Remkee.
In a short time, they have made five various pieces of steam
equipment three steam engines, a horizontal, a vertical and a
walking-beam type, along with a fire-tube and a water-tube
Practically all parts of the machinery are handmade, including
the safety pop-off valves, pistons, screws, bolts, armatures, etc.
The only items on the machinery not handmade are the steam
The history of the steam power dates back to the Second Century
prior to the birth of Christ, when Nero of Alexandria Contrived a
steam motor. The use of steam for pumping water dates back to the
The Newcomen engine completed in 1705 was the first know., use
of a cylinder and piston action.
Then in 1718, Henry Brighton invented a self-acting machine. The
valves consisted of a series of tappets operated by the large beam
of the engine.
The actual foundation for the modern steam engine was laid by
James Watt in 1769.
He discovered how to transfer steam from one vessel to another
for condensation, making use of the pressure greater than
atmospheric. He also constructed the double-acting steam engine and
later, the steam engine indicator.
Watt was actually the first individual to realize the advantages
that resulted from using steam expansively, although it was never
applied to an actual engine until 1804 by Wolfe.
Rembold and McKee’s walking-beam miniature model was used in
a much larger scale on the early steam locomotives.
For example, during 1829 and 1830, while the Baltimore and Ohio
Railroad and the Atlantic rail lines were operating, the engine was
the ‘ultimate’ in fast travel.
Also, the early time steam boats used a walking-beam type of
engine. The ‘John Fitch’ was the very first to use such a
machine 1790 and also the ‘Clermont’ later on.
One of the later steam engines using this same type of engine
was England’s ‘Scotia’ of the Cunard Lines. Its weight
was 3,610 tons and it was 379 feet long. The two cylinders were 100
and 144 inches respectively. The paddle wheels were 40 feet in
diameter and could achieve a speed of 14.4 knots. Thus, the engines
being so large, the boat moved slower.
The horizontal model steam engine made by the two hobbyists has
a 1-inch bore and a 1-inch stroke, produces three-quarter
horsepower and 60 pounds of steam capacity, and is a replica of an
improved model that was later used on locomotives in the middle of
the 19th century.
It also could be wound up to 600 r.p.m.s a minute.
The piston through linkage was connected directly to the driving
wheels and was also the power available for steel mills, lumber
yards, feed mills, traction engines and river tow boats.
The Remkee vertical model engine is similar to the horizontal
engine in that the same equipment is used. It was used for power in
places where there was limited floor space. A few examples included
steam shovels, cranes, generators on boats, etc. The miniature
model has a one-inch bore and stroke.
Also, in their workshop, which is situated in the basement of
Mr. Rembold, is a hot – air – operated engine and a scaled-down
model of the Stirling Cycle engine that was recently donated by
Pennsylvania State University to the Smithsonian Institute as an
The particular engine that was on the State campus was virtually
ignored until the Smithsonian Institute learned of its exhistence
and later hailed it as a rare find.
It is powered by a hand – stoked fire under the end of the
vertical cylinder. The hot air drives the piston and power was
transmitted by a crank mechanism.
The ‘antique’ is over six feet tall and weighs a
Rembold and McKee’s model weighs less than a few pounds and
is also less than a foot high, and is capable of producing power
Their display also consists of two steam boilers, which have
been constructed to operate all the above mentioned engines.
One boiler is of a fire – tube variety, while the other is a
water tube type. Both are equipped with necessary water gauges,
pressure gauges and safety pop – off valves and burners for bottled
The other detailed parts include two high pressure plunger pumps
used to supply water for the boilers one driven by the vertical
steam engine and the other driven by the horizontal engine. The
later engine mentioned is also used to drive a generator for
display lighting purposes within the workshop.
Also in their possession are four toy variety steam engines used
some 60 years ago. With a few minor repairs, they are now in
operation, as is another some 30 years old and two modern
electrically heated toy steam engines.
Both are members of the Tri-State Historical Steam Engine
Association, Inc., with headquarters in Charleroi.
Both were assisted by Gregg E. Waters, of Rices Landing, R. D.
1, while building their ‘fire-tube’ boiler.
Both are gardeners, having large produce gardens near their
Rembold, besides being mayor of Rices Landing, is engaged in
small electrical work, such as winding motors for local residents
and smaller repairs.
He was formerly employed at Crucible as head of coal preparation
and retired when Crucible discontinued operations in 1961. He was
also employed at Nemacolin for several years.
McKee is also a former Crucible coal worker, having served as
master mechanic up until his retirement in 1957.
He stated that his prime interest was in raising gardens and he
has won several prizes for his produce.