Farm Collector

THE PRINCESS 80 YEARS AFTERWARDS

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.

  • Published on Jul 1, 1962
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