Swayer Massey Man

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W. Thomas Buller
17 HP Sawyer Massey portable built about 1900. Tom Buller is the owner and is riding on platform at Urbana, Ohio Show in 1968. Courtesy of W. Thomas Buller, 1085 Bellbrook Ave., Xenia, Ohio 45385

1085 Bellbrook Ave., Xenia, Ohio 45385

The snap is of a 17 H.P. Sawyer Massey model L 665 portable
steam engine mounted on wooden wheels, engine number 3204. This
engine and boiler are in excellent condition now and were shown for
the first time in the Old Fashioned Days parade in Xenia, Ohio, in

I obtained this engine in 1958, and my brother Gordon and I
fired it up the day after we got it home.

It had run a sawmill near Echo Lake, in the District of Algoma,
Northern Ontario, Canada. The engine was owned by Duncan Rydall, of
Bar River, Ontario, and he purchased it from a farmer named Duncan
Campbell, in the same district, who had purchased it new for
threshing grain.

When Mr. Rydall moved his sawmill from the bush location near
Echo Lake, he left the ‘Massey’ sitting where it had been
belted up, intending to come back and get it later. However, he had
started using a gas tractor to power his sawmill and never did get
back to the bush for the steam engine. It sat there for twenty
years. I saw it one time and on inquiring about it, found that it
belonged to my very good friend, Duncan Rydall.

My brother Gordon and I dug out the engine, which had sunk down
to the bottom of the boiler in the red clay. We hauled it 15 miles
home that evening and worked for an hour and a half after we got
there, taking the caps off all of the bearings and oiling up all of
the working parts. The inside of the cylinder wall was just like
glass, but was filled with grass seed and a mouse nest. The next
day we cleaned out the boiler and checked it all over and decided
to fill it and give it a water test. We fired it up and in short
order had the whistle blowing and the engine running. The engine
ran perfectly except for a slight noise in the valve rod, which we
tightened up.

Two of my neighbors, hearing the whistle, came to see what we
were doing and were dumfounded when they saw the engine running.
They then proceeded to tell us that they had both worked on this
engine some twenty-five years before at the Echo Lake location
during the winter. They were planning 3′ x 12′ hemlock
planks which were covered with ice and snow, and were putting two
planks at a time through the planer and didn’t lack at all for

I moved to Ohio from Canada in 1963 and went back for the
‘Massey’ in 1965 and started to restore it. It is
completely restored now and has been to several shows in this

Duncan Rydall was killed in an automobile accident before I
completed the restoration and I deeply regret not having it
finished before he died, because he was a wonderful man, and as
most steam men, never got over his love for steam power.

I now have another Sawyer Massey portable which is older than
this one, the engine number being 158, and I am presently restoring
it. This engine has a hand riveted boiler, is mounted (or was) on
wooden wheels, about 12 H.P. and came from the same area in

Any of the readers who might have information of any kind on
either of these engines would earn my sincere gratitude by
corresponding with me. I have been searching for 7 years for
literature on these engines without success. Sawyer Massey engines
were built in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, as many of you know, but
the old Company did not apparently keep any of the old records, so
information is quite scarce.

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