The Little Engine That Could

By Staff
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Wheel on ground, pre-1988.
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Ameliasburgh Volunteer Firefighters help with wheel assembly.
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Wheel, June 1989, north side.
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Wheel lifted into place, April 1989.
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Assembled wheel, June 1989, south side.
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Wheel in the 1970-constructed Engine House.

Ameliasburgh Historical Museum, Box 67 Ameliasburgh, Ontario K0K
1A0

Early April 1988a dull, drizzly morning. A small but dedicated
group met behind the Ameliasburgh Historical Museum. Why? We were
there for one reason to begin a project which would one day see a
1910 Goldie Corliss steam engine operating once again under its own
steam.

Built in Galt in 1910, the engine had been moved to the Township
in the ’40s. It found its way to the museum early in the
’70s and had lain in pieces behind the museum. Large parts of
the wheel were scattered about; small parts were still in
crates.

1987. Eighteen doubtful people, plus one (Owen Bosma) who was
convinced, met with industrial consultant David Rollinson. By
meeting’s end, a unanimous committee believed not only that the
seemingly impossible task could be done, but that it could be
completed by June 1988, the museum’s 20th anniversary.

More meetings took place. The group gathered to survey the
rusting ruin. Plans were drawn, decisions made, and funds raised.
Heavy equipment was set in motion, gangs of men were pressed into
service. A foundation to support the engine was poured, made
possible by the donation of 45 cubic yards of concrete by a local
company, Lake Ontario Cement. Ten men from the Ameliasburgh
Volunteer Fire Department set up the engine. After they lowered the
first half of the flywheel into the wheel pit, the men placed the
crankshaft into position and joined the top and bottom halves of
the wheel together. Many volunteer hours were spent cleaning,
painting and attending to all the details needed to make the engine
bright and shiny again.

To the satisfaction of the local community, the engine’s
majestically rotating flywheel was a highlight of the museum’s
twentieth anniversary celebration on June 26, 1988.

The need for a building to protect the engine and provide a
suitable environment for the public to view it became the next goal
to achieve. A local construction firm prepared and donated the
plans for the building. This ambitious community project cost in
excess of $50,000. The government helped with a portion of the
funds. Most of the money and materials were acquired by the steam
engine committee. In 1989 a specially designed engine house was
constructed to house the steam engine. Although the wheel was
turning, the committee then began its search for an appropriate
steam boiler so that the Goldie McCulloch engine could operate as
it was designed. In Valley field, Quebec, the committee found a 42
inch by 100 inch vertical steam powered tube boiler. The boiler was
moved to the site, approved, and set up in the engine house. The
present project underway is to install the fixtures and plumbing
required to connect the engine and boiler, so that our engine will
soon be steam powered.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment