Steaming in Canada

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Above: Charles and his son Richard man the engine while Leroy feeds wood through a buzz saw, showing this little engine can really work.
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Opposite page: Charles Wagler and Leroy Ebersol restored this portable steam engine rig, which was created using an E. Leonard & Sons engine.
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Left: A view of the Leonard portable’s smokebox door, which was custom-made by its previous owner. This little rig is so convincing you could be excused for thinking it is an original, factory-built unit. The engine was restored in the small building in the background.

A Single-cylinder Steam Engine and a Portable Boiler Come
Together to Produce One Nice Little Unit

From what we can gather, this engine,
manufactured by E. Leonard & Sons, London, Ontario, Canada, was
first employed many years ago running a butter churn in a local
cheese factory. It was eventually purchased by a Stratford,
Ontario, handyman, who installed the engine on a portable boiler he
constructed, making for a very nice portable unit.


This style of Leonard engine was patented on Jan. 9, 1877. We do
not know for certain when this particular engine was built. It is a
center crank single-cylinder and has a 4-inch bore and a 4-inch
stroke. The pulley is 20 inches in diameter and 4 inches wide. It
has a water pump driven by the cylinder and features a water
pre-heater in the exhaust discharge. We don’t know its rated

The boiler unit was built around 1978. It’s 5 feet long, 16
inches in diameter, holds 30 gallons of water and is equipped with
20, 1-1/2-inch flues. Water feed is by one injector on one pump run
by the engine. When filled, the complete unit weighs approximately
1,400 pounds.

Leroy Ebersol and I bought this portable engine at an estate
auction in Mitchel, Ontario, in August 1997.

After hauling it home to my small workshop, we stripped it down
for repairs and restoration. The boiler needed minor repairs (done
by a certified welder), and we replaced all the piping with new
schedule 80 pipe. The engine needed a new water pump, a few other
small repairs, and a lot of cleaning and scrubbing. After all this
we repainted it and put the unit back together. We finished the
restoration in late 1998.

We now enjoy playing with this engine, buzzing wood with a buzz
saw we purchased. It is a great little toy and a pleasure to
operate. We pressure tested it to 160 psi, and we run it at 100

However, if we ever get a chance, we’d like to get a larger
portable we could haul with draft horses and that we could use to
run a threshing machine. There is a lot of stook threshing done in
our area, but very few people who have seen it done by steam

I’d like to thank Allan Leis of Waterloo, Ontario, and Tye Coxon
of Milverton, Ontario, for their help supplying information on the

Contact steam enthusiast Charles Wagler at: RR1, Atwood,
ONT, Canada N0G 1B0; (519) 356-8818. Contact steam enthusiast Leroy
Ebersol at: (519) 595-4010.

Editor’s note: Charles Wagler says he’s heard of one
surviving factory-built Leonard portable. To the best of our
knowledge, E. Leonard & Sons never produced a steam traction
engine, focusing mostly on industrial engines for factory work. If
any reader knows of a surviving Leonard portable or has any other
information on E. Leonard & Sons, we’d like to hear from

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