The Loss of a Young Engineer
(Page 3 of 4)
Mrs. Bly, Mr. Strosnider's sister settled the estate and Mr.
Bly suggested that since the engine would be no good to his elderly
parents he should offer to re-buy the engine. This Mr. Bly did, and
being grief stricken over the accident, decided that all of his
machinery must be sold and by the spring of 1923 all of Mr.
Bly's machinery was indeed sold. The Case engine was sold to a
friend, and the Frick to a Mr. Braithwaite. Mr. Bly then went into
the poultry business, but returned to custom baling with a gas
tractor before passing away in 1929.
To complete this story I will continue with the history of the
Frick engine, which led to my interest in this accident in the
first place. Mr. Braithwaite used the engine mostly on a sawmill,
and I do not know if he was ever aware of the engine's defects.
Its' use gradually declined, except for the possibility of a
brief period at the beginning of World War II, when it may have
been pressed back into service. It is reported that he used it for
a brief period to once again haul apples due to the gasoline
shortage, but it is unlikely that it ran into Winchester due to the
iron wheels and cleats. If it was used, as I believe it was, it
probably was from the orchards to a railroad siding. Mr.
Braithwaite began to scrap the engine in 1943, with his son's
help, due to its value in scrap iron, reported to be about $200.00,
and the emphasis on the wartime scrap drives. However, his son was
drafted and later killed in the War and this is as far as the
scrapping went. According to one report, Mr. Braithwaite pulled the
engine out from where it was setting and attempted to load it on a
truck to take home to rebuild. When he tried to push it onto the
truck the beams of the truck body broke and this is as far as it
was moved. It was about this time that several parts were stolen,
including the steam gauge and a special deep toned whistle. Here it
remained, and most of those that viewed it were of the opinion that
it was too much of a job to restore it. It had indeed been pretty
well demolished, including the cutting out of some of the rear
wheel spokes. However, it was found and rescued, and therein lies
the proof that this is indeed different from other Frick double
In the spring of 1970 the remains were purchased by one of my
friends, Mr. William Burke, of Finksburg, Maryland, who has had
experience restoring other so-called 'impossible' engines.
After getting it home came the usual closer inspection and the
thought, as always, 'Oh no, what have I bought?' Work was
begun, boiler repairs were made, and a replacement engine bed from
a later engine was found. However, when he attempted to mount the
replacement engine on the boiler, he found it would not fit. There
was a difference between the original engine castings and the
replacement. It was then necessary to repair and install the
original engine. This was proof that a change had been made in the
Frick castings as claimed by the factory representative. After the
restoration was far enough along and the engine placed in
operation, it was found that the valves could not be set so as to
exhaust evenly on both cylinders. Despite the complete rebuilding,
the uneven exhaust is quite noticeable when pulling in the belt.
After running in traction it was found that the engine would indeed
reverse when under heavy load with a wide open throttle. Many
experienced men have tried over the years, both before and after
restoration, to correct this without success. This engine is now
owned by Mr. Burke, and has been displayed and operated at the
Maryland Steam Historical Association annual show at Upperco,
Maryland, along with a Case owned by Mr. Burke since 1974.