Side view of the unidentified engine. Picture by Robert R. Humphreys, 10401 Fawcett Street, Kensington, Maryland 20795. If you can identify this engine, please write James at his home address. Courtesy of James B. Romans, 9111 Louis Avenue, Silver Spring,
9111 Louis Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910
I am enclosing two photographs of my approximately 1/2 scale model traction engine taken at the 1973 Mason-Dixon show at Westminster, Md. I purchased this engine at the 1973 Eastern Shore Threshermens & Collectors Association show here in Maryland from Mr. Andrew Burr of Baldwin, N.Y.
The engine is rather unique in that it contains very few parts from tractors or other agricultural machinery. With the exception of the flywheel, gears, differential and steering wheel, the major parts of the engine appear to have been made by hand. The handmade items include the boiler, wheels, crank disk, connecting rod and crosshead, crosshead guide, cylinder, steam chest, slide valve, Woolf-type reverse gear and the control levers. Ball bearings have been used on the crank pin, for main bearings, for rear wheel bearings, and in much of the gear train assembly. Apparently the engine was equipped with a canopy at one time.
It would appear that the engine started out to be a FRICK, for it has the typical FRICK frame and the long, narrow FRICK-style water tank on the right side between the firebox and the rear wheel. However, the engine itself (5X6), resembles a late-style CASE. People ask me what make the traction engine is and I tell them 'FRICASE' (pronounced 'Frick-us').
It is evident that much time and effort have been expended in building this engine and that those responsible possessed much skill, talent and ingenuity. The extensive welding and machine work suggests that it was made in a well-equipped machine shop. There is evidence chat some sort of identification plate was at one time attached to the crosshead guide assembly.
The two questions asked most frequently about the engine are: (1) Who made the engine? and (2; How old is it? It is for this reason that I am trying to establish who built the engine and when it was made. I would also like to give proper credit to the builder. Considerable differences of opinion have arisen among several who have seen the engine. Some say it was made by the late Harry Bricker of Plainfield, Pa., while others say it definitely was not. Still others say it came from Ohio.
I will pay for a one year's subscription to the IMA or GEM for the first two persons who can identify this engine, or furnish information leading to identification and the year it was made.