THE REBIRTH OF A keystone Skimmer Shovel

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RD #2, Charleroi, PA 15022

My formation began in a factory called the Keystone Driller
Company, Beaver Falls, Pa., that was engaged in business since 1882
in the manufacture of keystone portable and traction well drilling
machines for making water, oil and gas wells, mineral prospects and
blast holes; since 1907, in the production of Downie deep well
pumps, direct steam driven and geared from power; and since 1913,
in the manufacture of Downie centrifugal pumps.

My birthplace, Beaver Falls plant, covered 14 acres of ground
and they employed approximately 300 men. The plant included
departments such as boiler shop, forge shop, brass and steel
foundries, machine shops, wood working and pattern shops and an
erecting shop.

The manufacture of the Keystone shovels began here in 1914. My
great granddaddy was one of the originators of the backhoe.

Many patterns were made, fitted and assembled. Over 6,000
shovels were made in this factory and behold, I was born, Keystone
Skimmer Shovel Model #4 in the year 1920. I must say I was the most
modern and the envy of every contractor/excavator engineer within
the United States. I am told my brothers drilling machines were
sent abroad.

I have had vast experience and background in excavation of
foundations, streets, sewers, railroad beds, street car beds and
even airports. During all my youthful days, my steam never ran out,
my flues were always cleaned and my whistle blew loud and clear.
Progress and industry demanded new and faster techniques, thus
gasoline engines were introduced and I was put to pasture for a
long rest.

One sunny day, Thomas Redd, the father of Dean Redd, shook my
timbers, so to speak. He took away my steam heart and transplanted
it with a gasoline engine. He took me out of retirement and back
into the swing of life…road grading, coal stripping and

However, sadness came when Tom was called away in October 1937,
and I was again tucked away this time I thought for good.

In 1943 a young rascal, Dean Redd, dusted me off and put me into
action until 1953. From 1953 until 1960 nothing much happened to
me. Cobwebs and rust formed. Paint all gone. My roof rotted away
and blown off. I was in a terrible state mentally and

But something happened! I was being taken apart by strong,
determined but gentle hands…bolt by bolt, nut by nut, gear by
gear… stripped to my main frame, sandblasted, primed, two coats
of brand new red and green paint (with, I might add, a very eye
catching trim, plus an added feature of an artist’s touch who
very legibly printed my name, where I was born, model number, etc.
on my frame for all to see). Now I perform at various fairs:
National Pike Steam, Gas and Horse Association, The Tri-State
Historical Steam Engine Association, the Canfield Ohio Fair, and
even as far away as Glenford, Ohio.

This pleases me to no end, however, one thing disturbs me and
that is my long ago transplanted gas engine. I believe I have
E.S.P. as recently my engine has been removed. A lot of talk about
how my original steam engine a 2 cylinder 6×6 link reverse 40 HP
geared to traction and shovel operating mechanism and boiler got
junked. Also, my owner has been searching for 26 years but only has
come up with half an engine, looking as far as California, Canada
and England and finally making the decision to make the other half.
The process of finding a pattern maker and getting the pattern made
has taken over a year’s time as this was only done in spare

My thanks to a couple of good friends, Earl Hamilton of Lisbon,
Ohio and Clyde Lightfoot of Beaver Falls, Pa., who helped in the
engineering of the patterns and in the great amount of machine work
that will finally give me ‘steam’ life.

I will be on display at the 1982 shows hopefully, if everything
goes according to plans. So come on out as I believe I am the only
one of my kind in existence Let’s all blow off some steam to
celebrate my rebirth as a full-fledged ‘steam’ Keystone
skimmer shovel.

Dean Redd has also restored: a Model #3 skimmer shovel which has
a single cylinder engine, 14 HP, built in 1915; 2 gasoline crawler
type skimmers built in 1926; a steam Keystone water well driller,
size 3 traction.

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