The Return Of A Giant

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After five hours of hard work, a satisfied crew stands by the completely reassembled Tiffany & Pickett engine.
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Assembly begins on CAMA's big steam engine.
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Installing the main bearing.
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Installation of the cylinder and main frame.
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Bolting the two halves of the flywheel together.
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Setting the trusses in place during construction of Industrial Hall.

47 Clinton Avenue, Westport, Connecticut 06880.

A number of years ago, at a Connecticut company, an account was
found in some old file about a man who had once worked for the firm
for 70 years before being retired at age 90. Accompanying the
article was a photo of a very stern-looking individual with a long
black beard. This discovery caused a few of the younger engineers
to speculate that anyone would feel that way after working there so
long. Older tool-and-die makers disagreed. They said the reason the
man seemed so mad was because the company had let him go!

Attitudes and viewpoints tend to be divergent with generation
and background. But happily, no such gap seems to exist in regard
to an historic preservation project being undertaken by the
Connecticut Antique Machinery Society (CAMA) in Kent, Connecticut.
Youngsters and adults, engineers, businessmen and mechanics just
about everyone seems to have taken a liking to a giant steam engine
currently being restored to running condition. Here is the story of
how this star attraction is getting its new home.

The huge single-cylinder steam engine, which has a 16 inch bore
and 33 inch stroke, was originally located at the Tiffany and
Pickett Company in Winsted, Connecticut. While not quite up to the
longevity of the worker mentioned previously, it powered the mill
for almost 50 years. Mr. Tiffany, an MIT graduate, chose the engine
himself and supervised its installation in 1904. It is of the
Corliss type, with the modifications of Noble T. Greene, and
appears to have been built by the Pacific Iron Works located just
south of Artie Street in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Mr. Tiffany was
quite proud of the engine and had it kept in immaculate condition.
It was donated to CAMA in 1984 through the generosity of the
Tiffany family, and the owners and officers of the Tiffany and
Pickett Company.

The Giant’s New Partners The Connecticut
Antique Machinery Association is a non-profit organization
structured along fairly standard lines. The principal officers
(president, vice president, etc.) are elected by a Board of
Directors who in turn are elected by the membership at an annual
meeting. Business is carried on by the Board at monthly meetings.
In 1989, a number of chairmen were also appointed by the Board to
head up various committees. At the present time, there are no paid
officers or employees. One main source of income has been an
antique machinery show called the ‘Fall Festival’ which has
now become an annual event. Usually held on the last Sunday in
September, all of the proceeds from the show are applied toward
major projects (such as the steam engine), improving and
maintaining the Association’s grounds, and essential operating
costs (power, telephone, insurance, and other services). In regard
to its grounds, the Association has been very fortunate. A few
years ago, it was able to obtain a lease from the state on land at
a very scenic spot in Kent, Connecticut. But more than simply luck
was involved. Both initial and final approval of the lease took a
considerable amount of work to come up with a suitable plan for the
proposed use of the property.

To date, CAMA has already completed some very fine projects such
as the restoration of a windmill, and the construction of a 5-bay
shed used as a storage area for large exhibits and for maintenance
equipment. The Fall Festival has been growing in popularity and
size. Those who attended earlier festivals could probably recall
the bumpy stump-filled exhibition space and upper parking lot.
Because of improvements by the Association, these are now pleasant,
grassy areas. Once progress in some of these areas was achieved,
CAMA was able to get the steam engine project into high gear.

Getting Up Steam Before being dismantled, the
engine and installation were documented in the Tiffany and Pickett
Mill with the aid of measurements, drawings, and photos. After
being dismantled, the pieces were stored at various locations
throughout the state with one exception-the governor-which was
displayed at the Association’s Fall Festival. Along with the
new concrete foundation for the engine and Industrial Hall, the
governor served as sort of a midway attraction to lure the unwary
into joining CAMA with the promotional incentive ‘Maybe next
year, we’ll have the engine running!’ Well, a few ‘next
years’ have come and gone. But at the 1989 Festival, things
were quite different.

At an engine show, when he saw a photo of the steam-engine’s
flywheel, which has a 12-foot diameter, the exhibitor of a very
large gas engine himself jokingly asked, ‘Are you guys going to
haul that thing around from show to show?’ The answer is
obviously, ‘No!’ pointing out the need for a permanent site
for such large equipment and exhibits. Also, as most readers
probably realize, it takes a lot more than setting up a promotional
exhibit at an event with a plea such as ‘Save Our Steam
Engine’ if restoration projects of the size being discussed
here are to be successful. It would be difficult to give credit to
all who have donated both funds and services which have made the
steam engine and other projects possible. Consequently, the
following should only be considered as an incomplete account of the
contributions by many which led up to an important milestone in the
steam engine project.

The Beginnings of a 4th of July Weekend On
Saturday, July 1, 1989, the first step of the milestone was
achieved. During a regularly scheduled work session, volunteers
came with their water, soda, coffee, sandwiches and gloves!
Donating his services, John McGuinness, of the D.P. McGuinness
Riggers and Movers, arrived with one of their cranes at 8:00 a.m.
and the crew went about reassembling the steam engine from the
Tiffany and Pickett woodworking plant. On a previous work day,
Dudley Diebold brought in a steam cleaner and washed and cleaned
all the parts. Helping him were Dick Greene, Tony Dorbuck, Tom
Trenka, Dan Reeve, Todd Wheeler, and Steve and Marty Sidwell. Jim
Hine also brought in a wrecker and the crew helped him move some of
the pieces into place including the outboard bearing.

During the July 1st session, the original plan was to put the
lower half of the flywheel on blocking and then put the cylinder,
girder frame, main bearing, and crankshaft into place in that
order. The next step would be to square up the engine during the
rest of the day, and bring the crane back to assemble the two
flywheel halves at a later date in the summer. However, things went
better than expected.

The crew started work at 8:30 a.m. by putting the first half of
the flywheel into the pit. They knew which side would face the
central aisle in our building since the flywheel was only striped
on one side (the side closest to the original engine-room wall
never had stripes). This one sided striping also helped them match
up the two halves of the flywheel in the correct way since it had
been cast in one piece and then split. Next, the four long bolts to
hold the cylinder were put in and then dropped below the level of
the large cast bed so that the cylinder could be moved in. With the
slings on the cylinder, it was then an easy job to put it in
position with the crane.

The girder frame was moved in next along with the main bearing.
The crew had to bar the cylinder, frame, and main-bearing assembly
forward a bit so that the main bearing would be positioned over its
mounting rods. The crankshaft was then put in place after the
journals had been checked and polished. All of this work was
completed by 11 a.m. so it was decided to plumb up the engine and
assemble the flywheel. This would save another visit by the crane.
The crew worked on truing up the engine, and after only a brief
lunch break, they were ready to assemble the flywheel by 12:30.

The lower flywheel half was gently lifted into position against
the crankshaft. This half was then held in place by constructing a
cribwork of wooden blocks under it. The upper half was then picked
up with the crane, slung into position over the crankshaft, and the
two halves were then bolted together. Flywheel assembly was
completed by 1:30 p.m. and the crew was finished with the crane.
The cribbing was then taken out of the flywheel pit and it was then
possible to turn the flywheel by hand. This accomplished, the
session ended.

Along with John McGuinness, the work crew for the day included
Frank Current, John Stauffer, Tony Dorbuck, Brad Ingram, Frank
Oliva, Dan Reeve, Steve and Marty Sidwell, Bob Hungerford, and
Fred, Eric, Raif and Bridget Phelan. Last but not least,
‘Dutchess,’ CAMA’s ever vigilant mascot, served yeoman
(or rather yeoperson) duty as watchdog for this stalwart crew as
she has on other occasions!

Assembling the Engine-July 16 The day started
early for Bob Hungerford, but with a truck heavily loaded with
sand, concrete bags, tools, and forms for the grout coat, along
with the cylindrical valve, eccentric strap and connecting rod for
the engine, the trip to Kent took longer than expected. Fred Phelan
and Dudley Diebold were already there when he arrived. The work
session started by taking the wood splitter out of the 5-bay shed,
and loading it onto a truck so it could be used for the Old Roxbury
Days Festival coming up the next weekend. Paul, Pat, and Mike
Leonard arrived and the crew unloaded the small electric-powered
cement mixer from Dudley’s truck. They then unloaded the forms,
sand, and some engine pieces from Bob’s pickup. When Dan Reeve
arrived, they had enough help to unload the connecting rod.

In preparation for the assembly of the engine, Fred Phelan
cleaned the wrist pin and Frank Current cleaned the inside of the
cylinder. The piston was then pulled back, and after putting in the
crosshead wedges, the connecting rod was attached to the crosshead
with the wrist pin. The flywheel was then rotated and the other end
of the connecting rod was attached to the crank pin. With
everything cleaned and oiled, the flywheel could be rotated and the
engine turned over quite freely (after checking that everything was
square and level).

Next, the grout forms were put around the outboard bearing and
the grout was poured in; a 3-to-l sand to potted cement mixture.
The first batch was quite stiff. As successive batches were made,
they were thinned out until the mixture was like heavy cream so
that it would flow under the bed plates. By then, it was lunch
time, and the crew was joined by Frank Oliva, Steve Sidwell, Bob
Current, and Tony Dorbuck.

After lunch, work continued by setting the forms for the engine
bed, but it started to rain so the crew mounted the governor on the
engine, hoping the rain would stop. It didn’t. But work went
ahead anyway on setting the forms. As soon as enough forms were on
to start pouring the grout (grout was 2′ to 3′ thick; a
total of 28 cubic feet was needed on the engine), one group started
pouring, others continued fitting forms, with a third group mixing
cement. The crew managed to fill the whole engine bed up to the
exhaust pit. It was then discovered that more forms were needed and
that a 3′ x 5′ section under the front of the cylinder
would have to wait until the next session. After the engine was
covered, some measurements were taken for items needed at the next
session, the tools were cleaned up, and the crew headed for
home.

Work Continues-July 29

With the engine mostly assembled, things were a little more
relaxed at this session. The day started out with Dick Greene and
Bob Hungerford at the site. Dudley Diebold came by, returning the
wood splitter used at the Old Roxbury Days Festival. The morning
crew was rounded out with Dan Reeve, Frank Current, and Paul and
Mike Leonard.

Work started by building the forms under the front part of the
cylinder. Dick Greene and Paul Leonard poured in the grout while
the rest of the crew checked and cleaned all of the valve-gear
parts before fitting them to the engine. Although the day was
sunny, there was a breeze that made it feel more like a Fall day
rather than late July.

All the engine pieces were fitted in, and by lunchtime the
concrete work was also finished. The crew then unloaded the
woodsplitter. Foster Whitney arrived with his lawn tractor and
spent part of the day with us mowing the grass around the grounds.
Bob Andrews stopped by, followed by Tony Dorbuck. Tony and Bob
helped with the cleanup of the foundation and the storage of parts
and extra cement bags. By the end of the day, the crew felt
confident that CAMA would be able to continue progress and have the
engine finished by the Fall Festival.

Rain Continues-August 13 At the Lebanon State
Fair on Saturday, August 12, a new record in a horse-draw contest
was set for Eastern Connecticut. One favorable condition, perhaps,
was that the drawing arena consisted mostly of mud. Rains, and
predictions of more and heavier rains, caused several CAMA members
to call back and forth to see if anyone was going to be in Kent on
Sunday. But the weather turned out rather well with only a brief
shower after lunch. The crew continued to work on the engine and
for this session it consisted of Tom Trenka, Dan Reeve, Frank
Oliva, Bob Hungerford, Dick Greene, Tony Dorbuck, Paul Leonard, and
Bob Andrews.

The crew finished stripping the grout forms and tightened down
all of the bolts holding the engine to the foundation. Rocks were
then placed over the tunnel openings at the bottom of the
foundation and dirt was shoveled over them in preparation to
backfilling. The exhaust pipe (with an additional 24-inch section
of pipe, donated by Bob Pitcher) was put on and the engine
condensate drain system was laid out so parts could be ordered at
the next session. The exhaust valves were cleaned up and lubricated
but the intake valves and their mechanisms were removed. Tom Trenka
planned to clean and rebuild them before the next session. At that
time they would be put back into place and new packing would be
added all the way around. The size of the governor belt was
measured, and at the next session, it was felt that a test steam-up
of the engine was possible with CAMA’s 10-horsepower vertical
boiler.

Saturday, August 26-The Giant Awakes! On the
morning of the 26th, it might be quicker to list who wasn’t at
the work session. All of the officers of CAMA were there, along
with directors, members, and various chairmen. The intake valves
were assembled again on the engine and the dashpots were attached.
Previously, in one of the dashpots, the piston had been stuck in
the cylinder and had defied hydraulic presses and other means to
free it. The job was then assigned to Frank Current who came up
with an innovative solution. Fortunately, the piston was not at the
bottom of the cylinder when it froze. Also, there was a wide rim on
both the top of the piston and the top of the cylinder. This
allowed Frank to insert nuts and short bolts between these rims. He
then could free the dashpot by unscrewing the nuts and bolts thus
forcing the piston upward in the cylinder.

In preparation for the upcoming festival, both Bob Hungerford
and Tony Dorbuck had been busy with news releases and other means
of publicity. Bob had contacted The New York Times, and reporter
Carolyn Battista and photographer Steve Miller were there at the
work session when the engine was fired up for the first time in 30
years with Steam Chairman Dan Reeve at the control levers. As it
turned out, the steam engine proved too much for the vertical
boiler. Instead, it was connected to the steam ‘take-off’
valve on a steamroller. After some initial prompting by hand, the
giant flywheel began to turn itself to the delight of everyone
present! The occasion was duly recorded in one of America’s
most prestigious newspapers. Carolyn’s article and Steve’s
photos appeared as a half-page spread in the Connecticut Section
(p. 33) of the Sunday edition of The New York Times on September
17, 1989a week before CAMA’s Fall Festival.

Show Time-Sunday, September 24th

On previous weekends before the 24th, the engine was put through
its shake-down trials and everything appeared to be in good shape
for the show, at least as far as the engine and other exhibits were
concerned. But on the weekend of the festival, although it was a
sunny, hot and humid Saturday afternoon in Litchfield, Connecticut,
just a few miles to the north in Kent a fast-moving cold front had
dropped the temperature by almost 30 degrees. With a weather system
like this to contend with, you can imagine the anxiety felt by the
CAMA work crews as they prepared for the festival in the rain on
the Friday and Saturday before the show on Sunday. But true to
predictions, the rain ended abruptly Saturday night giving way to a
brisk sunny day on Sunday.

Aside from the weather, turning a festival, a fair, or similar
event into an enjoyable occasion for all who attend is a real
challenge. And this challenge often gets bigger as the size of the
show gets bigger; there are a lot more toes that can get stepped
on. But although it was the largest to date, it would be safe to
say that the 1989 Festival was also one of the most fun-filled
ones, and that it will be remembered for a long time to come. While
many events tend to fold up shortly before closing time, quite a
few exhibitors and show-goers stayed around for almost an hour
after the end and still seemed reluctant to leave. It’s not too
hard to discover the reason why.

A country-western hit tune called ‘Convoy’ a few years
ago had a line that went, .. .’there were rigs of every shape
and size!’ which is as accurate a description as any of the
festival, and especially of the afternoon parade. There were
Model-T Ford cars, John Deere tractors, and a Russell
steam-traction engine just to name a few. Not all vehicles were
powered by steam or gas, however. Frank Oliva was there with his
antique high-wheel bicycle. (On a previous weekend, Frank also rode
the bike into the town of Kent with a sign on the back advertising
the festival!)

Stationary engines of all makes and sizes were well-represented,
including a large, nicely restored Fairbanks Morse Model 42
two-cylinder diesel. A blacksmith display, a display of old tools,
a beautifully restored popcorn cart, a wood splitter, a band organ,
and a safe display these and other exhibits should give you an idea
of the color and variety of the show.

But along with many new exhibits, old friends were present again
at the show as well, including a beautiful steam launch that has
been to just about every festival since the first one. Speaking of
steam, of course it is easy to guess which was one of the most
popular exhibits. CAMA, exhibitors, and show-goers gave the giant
steam engine perhaps one of the best homecoming parties, ever!

Harvest Time-October 21

New Englanders who enjoy out-door events such as festivals and
fairs know they had better do so before the end of October the next
performances won’t be until Spring. The carousels, the food
booths, and the generator trailers either get put into storage or
are trailed south with their crews for the winter. CAMA’s
grounds reflected this quiet seasonal mood on Saturday, October 21.
About the only tangible evidence of the Festival were a few
remnants of the show’s big tag sale near the border of the
exhibition lot. However, the day marked a very special
occasion.

Although it has taken a few ‘next years’ of planning and
work before tangible results were achieved, at the 1989 Fall
Festival there wasn’t any need to plant the solitary governor
next to the donation jar at the reception tent and point to an
empty foundation. The governor was mounted on the engine where it
belonged, and it was turning under steam for the first time in
thirty years. However, the foundation was still empty but not for
long! Because of the success of the 1989 Festival, and through the
generosity of some CAMA members and their families, it was possible
to begin construction of the Industrial Hall around the steam
engine. This hall will also house other exhibits. By the end of the
day, three frames of the building were completed and put into place
on the foundation using the traditional ‘barn-raising’
method. At the next session, the crews were able to finish and
install all the frames for the front and both sides of the
hall.

We have since the Fall Festival framed the Industrial Hall,
built the old style wooden trusses and on December 30th had a work
party and set the trusses on the building frame.

A Past with a Future There’s an old engine
in a boatyard in Connecticut. It appears to have been used to haul
boats up a railway for storage in the winter. During a recent visit
to the yard, a member of CAMA noticed a windmill, in excellent
shape, which was very similar to the one restored in Kent mentioned
earlier. Later, he was surprised to learn that it was still used to
pump water from a well to a reservoir at a home some distance away.
He was less surprised to learn that the old engine was also still
in use and was invited to examine it more closely. It was built by
the Automatic Engine Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut. The engine
didn’t have a magneto, but used a battery and had what appeared
to be an Atwater-Kent ignition system. However, in spite of the
battery, the engine had no starter and had to be cranked by hand by
putting a bar in its large flywheel. The grandson of the owner said
he occasionally thought that the engine should be cleaned up and
donated to a museum. But then he reflected, ‘What would we use
to haul out the boats?’ In light of this statement, we might
all agree that it’s often difficult to decide when to put the
past aside and let the future begin!

Like the account of the worker mentioned at the beginning of
this article, we also enjoy hearing about an old windmill or engine
still in use long after its ‘colleagues’ are in museums or
where newer equipment might seem to make it totally obsolete.
Unfortunately, we also know that old machinery most often meets a
sad end at a scrap yard. Sadder still is the fact that an important
segment of America’s past is then lost forever to future
generations. One of the best defenses against this trend is engine
shows and other events, especially those with operating exhibits
which inform the public about this industrial and agricultural
legacy. From an educational point of view, there’s perhaps an
even more important factor here. It’s one thing to be told in
school to read about history in a book. It’s an entirely
different matter to experience it first hand in an enjoyable
setting, with friends and family, such as at CAMA’s Fall
Festival or at similar events held by other organizations.
Hopefully, as work progresses on CAMA facilities, it may be
possible to cater to these educational needs in other ways as
well.

In this regard, firms and individuals who have donated funds and
services, CAMA officers and members, show-goers and exhibitors, and
all who have contributed to this past with a future can feel a
sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

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