A Tale of Resurrection
6131 Savio Drive, (Affton) St. Louis 23, Missouri
At this stage, the fine work being done by the group gradually faltered and eventually ceased altogether. Circumstances bringing this about were beyond their control. It appeared uncertain there would ever be resumption of work stall necessary to restore 714 to operative condition, or prevent new serious deterioration. And thus once again, there hovered in the background the threat of the ever-present junkman. In contrast to prior hopes, the outlook seemed bleak indeed.
But happily, again, not for long. A new admirer, who has restored and presently owns other engines plus a great variety of early-day relics, became interested. Having faith and vision that all could finally be made shipshape, so to speak, ownership Was acquired and he then plunged into the uncompleted program with zeal and vigor.
Now completely restored to regal and colorful splendor, original stateliness, and near perfect mechanical operation, 714 is presently owned by Louis A. Kunz, Highway 141 and Vandover Road near Valley Park, Missouri. In retrospection, Mr. Kunz readily concedes he has devoted practically all spare time for the better part of two years to prettying up the very appropriate one and is an in-'Princess'. This name he considers a dictation of his warm pride in her. Admiration is also plainly evident among the many visitors who come to see 'Princess' and perchance, to pay court to her Royal Highness or to watch her unusual performance.
And well they might extend their approval. For truthfully she is loaded with class and just as attractive as any one of her kind can ever be. Her tall dome, which encases the lower portion of the wood-burner type smokestack (a unique feature for supplying drier steam to the cylinder) and her boiler, are enameled a glossy jet black. Engine frame and cylinder, link valve gear, etc., sport a rich shade of green. Gearing, axles, piping, platform, flywheel, etc., fire engine red. A brilliant 'Jumbo' yellow on all wheels with rims of bright aluminum complete the ensemble. An abundance of brass or bronze fittings, plates, gauges and other items, brightly polished to form a vivid contrast, adds to the tone of elegance.
Operation under steam is quite interesting; handling on road even more so. Traction wheels are fifty-eight inches overall diameter and have eight and three-quarter inch cast rim with shallow grouters. These show little or no wear. With drivers of such comparatively small diameter and size of bull gears correspondingly reduced, locating differential and countershaft ahead of firebox necessitated positioning rear axle stubs well forward on boiler sides.
The resultant light weight on front axle pedestal serves to produce a sensation of delicate balance when power is applied, and an appearance of a dainty skimming or gliding action as the 'Princess' trundles forward. Especially so when demurely sashaying upgrade.
Two items, which on many an occasion undoubtedly proved to be wise and necessary provisions, are a stub tongue on front axle and spring-seat on boiler shell beside stack. The latter was for the use of the driver should a good steady team be utilized when encountering steep grades or heavy going.
The enormous amount of restoration work contributed by Mr. Kunz was reinforced to some extent by the efforts of Martin Rosen Auer of St. Louis, and the author. A new smokestack, smoke box door and ring, firebox door, ash pan, draft chute and door, platform, machining of governor parts, refacing throttle valve slides, new piping, fittings, gauges and linkage, plus a multitude of other items were a part of the program. Painting and decorative work is by the hand of Mr. Kunz himself.
And so ends our story for the present. What the morrow holds in store for the 'Princess' may well form the basis for new and strange narratives. Our wish is that her future be less fateful than has been her past. And may she always remain among staunch, devoted friends.
A lesson derived from the restoration of the 'Princess' is crystal clear: When loyal hearts and dedicated hands undertake to do right by one such as she, the work required for restoration may at times be work that is difficult, often disheartening. But for those who care, the fruits born of achievement - of mission accomplished _ are rich in satisfactions.
Benefits to posterity emanating from the efforts of those who give freely of their time and substance in the restoration, preservation, and occasional exhibition of unusual antiques such as the 'Princess' are manifold. Such efforts and contributions make it possible for generations of the future to see and feel and experience, at least briefly, a small portion of life in a more leisurely era.
More importantly, who of the present or the future, when contrasting the 'Princess' with the larger, and far more improved steam traction engines, as last designed, cannot but feel impressed with the tremendous progress made in so short a time?
And when comparison is made with present-day, sleek, diesel powered tractors, and without doubt in the age ahead, with atomic powered equipment, let us hope some means will be provided to stress always the all important fact of how great was the contribution of the steam engine to the phenomenal growth and development of our nation. For in the short space of time extending from several decades immediately prior to, and for only a few years beyond the turn of the present century, America and other countries witnessed a great surge of industrial expansion and, a transition from the manual to the machine age. During this transition, steam was the only power possessing sufficiently flexible characteristics to serve as the key needed to unlock and set in motion, the many and varied tasks created by so vast a program. In the same period, no similar qualities could be claimed for power generated by water or wind, or from the work of animals.
Certainly the steam engine was, and in many instances still is, an important part of American history.