Spalding's Corner

Looking for Clues to Mystery Engines

| September 2005

  • MysteryEngines.jpg

  • MysteryEngines.jpg

Two readers identified the "mystery" engine in the July/August 2005 issue of Steam Traction. The first response came from Jerred Ruble of Hanlontown, Iowa, who wrote:

"The engine in the mystery photo is a return-tube Minneapolis. Several tell-tail signs distinguish this engine as a Minneapolis; distinct shape of the differential gear, steam pipe feeding the engine coming from the smokestack, steam dome ahead of the crankshaft, wheel guards on the side of the boiler and a Gardner governor.

"The front tank on the engine has been customized, and the throttle assembly apparently has also been customized.

"I own three return-tube Minneapolis engines: no. 721, 12 HP, 1893; no. 6996, 22 HP, 1913; and a 14 HP, the number and year escapes me at the moment. The 22 HP was the last return tube off the assembly line. As far as I know, no. 721 is the earliest one left."

Right on Jerred's heals was a letter from Bob Carlson of Haddam, Conn., who wrote:

"Looking at the water tank and lower hand hole, I think the engine is a Minneapolis. If I again correctly answer first this time, I will give the book to a guy I meet at the spring meet at Kinzer, Pa. He just bought an engine and has little hands-on steam time."