Last issue’s mystery engine has generated some interesting
responses, and some question as to who actually made the engine.
Initial letters to Steam Traction identified it as a
Canadian-built Waterloo, and a check of Waterloo photos and catalog
illustrations looked to confirm this. We thought the matter was
settled, but then we started receiving votes for George White, also
from Canada. A little research showed that some details of the
engine would support that identification, as well.
We don’t have a great deal of literature on either Waterloo or
George White, making any identification but us tentative, at best.
Then we received a letter from Canadian reader Bert Michel –
complete with photos and catalog information – that we feel puts
the question to rest: It’s a Waterloo. Bert sent enough material to
merit an article of its own, and we’ve laid it all out starting on
Our first letter came from Jacob Gardner, who also had some
points to make about the as yet unidentified engine shown in the
Summer 2007 issue. Jacob wrote: “The steam engine in the Fall 2007
issue is a Waterloo Mfg. Co. engine built in Canada about 1908. And
the steam traction carriage in the Summer 2007 issue may be an
early Westinghouse, as the boiler looks like it is a water tube and
the final drive is v-belt like the one used on a Westinghouse.”
Next up was Canadian reader Bruce Shellinglaw, who wrote: “The
mystery steam engine (Fall 2007) is a Waterloo. Three identifiable
features: 1) mountings of smokebox door (we had a 12 HP portable
just like it), 2) cast cleats in rear wheels and 3) way the spokes
are cast into the hub on the front wheels. I would guess a late
1800s or very early 1900s, about an 18 HP.”
Mark Clark, also from Canada, said the same: “My guess is it’s a
Canadian-built Waterloo traction engine, very early model.”
Then came the first letter from reader George Caddell
identifying the engine as a George White. Caddell, who liked the
photo for more than just the engine, wrote: “I have always enjoyed
your mystery engine photos, but this one is so much more than just
the engine, which I suspect is a Waterloo engine from Canada.
“The family gathered to get their photo taken, probably in the
teens, maybe earlier or later – we may wonder where and if the
engine survived, and could the daughter still be living? The father
– probably the owner of the outfit, appears proud of it and his
family. The mother dressed in her Sunday dress will probably be
upset when she discovers the big blob of axle grease on the new
dress. She also appears to be thinking about having to mortgage the
farm just to buy this big hot, smelly steam engine.
“The shiny belt wheel indicates the engine is earning its keep
on a threshing ring. The lantern hanging on the smokebox door latch
indicates some night time travel between sets. What a wonderful
photograph. Thank you for sharing it with us.”
Finally, we heard from Canadian John Stutzman, who lives only 30
miles from where White engines were built. John wrote: “I would say
your engine is a George White, possibly late 1880s. I have owned
three George White engines in years past, but only one had a
similar smokebox door and wheel. It had the same wiggly pattern of
cleats. I would say the rear wheels were wider, though. I was told
it was built in the 1890s. The belt pulley, smokestack, cylinder,
reverse link, front axle, wheels and differential gear support and
brace, 2-speed gear etc., all say George White.”
We invite readers to share any information they have that sheds
further light on the engine.
This issue’s mystery engine comes, as usual, courtesy of
John Spalding, 112 Carriage Place, Hendersonville,
TN 37075 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
As ever, the first person to correctly identify the engine, by
mail, gets a free copy of Prof. P.S. Rose’s Steam Engine
Guide. Good steaming!