IBLS Journal 1938

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Letter to Leggett

Jim Leggett wrote, 1 February 2011:

I've been reading some of my grandfather's correspondence (Bill Leggett, Sr) with his fellow live steamers and thought this letter from Carl Purinton, dated Feb. 7, 1938, quite interesting as it is the first mention by Carl about the NELS and the possibility of a track being built behind Friend's Box Factory.
CarlPurinton LetterTo BillLeggett 7Feb1938.jpg
Feb. 7, 1938.
Dear Bill:
One good thing about taking your vacation when you did was that you could go outdoors without being bothered by mosquitos, and also by the heat. I bet you took it then so you could work on the frames for your new 4-6-2. It is pretty hard work getting frames out of the solid for a big job like your new one will be. You sure like to make patterns, personally I hate wood working and will do twice as much work at times to avoid having to make up a pattern or two.
The last time I had an engine on the track was Christmas afternoon when I took the 4-6-6T out to see if the crank pin setting was all right. Guess I got the eccentric crank set OK as the engine ran just as well as ever. Ashamed to say that I have not as yet gotten around to pinning it, but will do that before I run it again.
I have taken the old boiler off of Hash for investigation and found that some of the 3/16 Tobin bronze stays were eaten half way through. I did not like this condition at all and decided that the best and safest thing to do was to make a new boiler for it. This is coming along all right and am planning to use copper stay bolts in it. There is apparently enough difference between the copper and the bronze to set up electronlisis (or however you spell it) under certain conditions. It may be that the Marblehead water has something to do with it as we have to have copper pining in the domestic water line in the house.
Saw Ed Leaver about ten days ago and he seemed to be pretty well. He is still on the regular engineers spare board and never knows which way he will be sent out. His job is coming along slowly and I imagine that his next job with it will be the brazing up of the boiler.
Yesterday we had a meeting at Lester Friend's house for the purpose of getting a group of the local boys together to discuss a continuous track. Friend has room behind his box factory in Danvers for a 600 foot continuous run and we decided to start the erection of a track there. This group will be known as the New England Live Steamers and we are also going to incorporate it. Everett Ryan was made president, Les Friend the vice-president and myself the secretary which fits in very well with my job with the Live Steamers. It will be a good location as it is handy and easy to get to.
This will also solve my problem of holding the annual meeting here, as the one last fall showed me that they had out-grown my facilities. We can hold the annual meeting there and on the invitations we can say that luncheon will be served for 35 cents each. This will make a little money for the NELS and at the same time will keep a lot of them from bringing all their friends for a free feed. At the same time it will give the boys a real track to try out their engines on. How many times do you suppose Dougs great engine will go around. Maybe this track will tempt him to come down again and show uo.
So far this month the weather has been pretty mild. The thermometer was 50 degrees this morning. Almost like spring although it is too early yet to hope that this warm weather will last. Sorry to here (some spelling) hear that you were without a car, but sometimes they can be an awful lot of trouble and expense and I think that a lot of us would be just as well off without them. At least the railroads would benefit.
We are well and hope that you all are the same. Best regards to all from all of us

Diamond Point Memorial Day Meet

Diamond Point Live Steam Meet

The Modelmaker

June-July 1938

The Live Steam meet held over the Memorial Day weekend at the home of Ed Bergh, Diamond Point, N.Y., was one of the smaller gatherings but one of the best because there was not the confusion of a crowd and there was more opportunity for endurance running. Every engine performed beautifully.

The 3/4 inch scale Timken of Fred Jerome, Toronto, was the star performer. It pulled eight men and never slipped a driver. Harry Fisher's Yellowstone articulated, 1/2 inch scale, could do the same thing. There wasn't a poor steamer in the place, and in fact the safety valves were popping all the time and about as much steam was blown off as used.

Mr. Bergh called attention to the fact that all but two of the engines were piston valve, and anyone doubting the workability of piston valves in models should attend a meet and see.

Unfortunately the day was cloudy and threatened rain, and while no rain came it was bad for photography. We have one good picture from L. D. Langworthy, who also furnished us the information for this article. While the invitation read "From sunrise to sunset" it was 10 p.m. before the last fire was pulled.

Men present and their locomotives were as follows:

  • H.F. Austin, 131 Phillips St., Wollaston, Mass., 3-1/2 inch gauge Boston & Albany 4-6-4 (running)
  • S.G. Evans, 801 Rose Pl., Utica, N.Y., 3-1/2 inch gauge 0-6-0
  • H.B. Fisher, 169 Joralemon St., Belleville, N.J., 2-1/2 inch gauge 2-8-8-4 (running)
  • M.E. Fletcher, 446 Sixth Ave., Watervliet, N.Y., 2-1/2 inch gauge 4-6-2
  • John Herman, 46 Perry St., Belleville, N.J., 3-1/2 inch gauge 4-6-4 (running)
  • F.G. Jerome, 701 Windemere Ave., Toronto, Ont., 3-1/2 inch gauge 4-8-4 (running)
  • L. D. Langworthy, 21 Grove Ave., Westerly, R.I.
  • J. Pedrant, 146 King Ave., Yonkers, N.Y., 1 inch scale 4-6-4
  • C.A. Purinton, 251 Pleasant St., Marblehead, Mass., 2-1/2 inch gauge 4-6-6T (running)
  • Carl Strub, 20 Burkhardt Pl., Rochester, N.Y.
  • J.S. Hild, 165 Thenth St., Woodridghe, N.J.
Mr. Purinton and son Charles firing up their 4-6-6T B&A tanker for a run at the live steam meet at Diamond Point, N.Y. Photo by L.D. Langworthy. From "The Modelmaker", June-July 1938.

BLS Meet

On September 18, 1938, the Brotherhood's annual meets began being held at the brand new New England Live Steamers track at Danvers, Mass.

The track was 620-feet in length and was constructed in less than a month on property owned by Lester Danforth Friend assisted by several Live Steam "brothers", which included 'Carl" Purinton and his 16-year old son, Charles S. Purinton (Charlie) . Despite the absolute worst kind of New England weather (known as an "Easterly spell") the activities continued. However, there was trouble, the alternating drizzling and pouring rain kept the rails too wet for good traction. The track could accommodate both 2 ½ and 3 ½ gauge locomotives and rolling stock.

A large turntable, with its stalls, and an ample service track adjoined the loop, with which the latter connected by an ingenious transfer table device.

Despite a driving rain, the first engine to run that historic day was "Carl" Purinton's 4-4-4 tank engine, followed by a ¾" scale Timken "four aces" 4-8-4 built by Fred Jerome of Toronto.

When lunch was served to all of the day's participants, the members and visitors had a chance to see some of the models and chassis under construction, which were all exhibited under cover.

The work that was done by those early day live steamers on those little engines was deserving of the respect by anyone who admires fine machine work.

Speaking of "lunch"--- the main entrée for the day's historic event was Mrs. "Carl" Purinton's memorable fish chowder which she was well known for. "Carl" said it was officially known as "Marblehead Chowder" . Evidently, as always, it was the hit of the day !

The meet at Danvers was the sixth Annual Live Steamers meet of which many were to follow in the ensuing years, during the course of the BLS existence.

Modelmaker Magazine Report

From the October--November, 1938 issue of The Modelmaker magazine, comes this story of the great track at Danvers, MA and the "pioneers" who started the live steam hobby as we know it today on the East Coast. Even the late Mary Purinton's "fish chowder" is mentioned here.

The cover of The Modelmaker, October-November 1938, featured a photo from the 1938 BLS Meet at Danvers.

Photo above is a general view of the roundhouse at the Brotherhood of Live Steamers meeting at Danvers, Mass., Sunday, Sept. 18. Upper right is E. W. Leaver raising a plume with his 3-1/2" gauge British 4-4-2. Lower right is F. T. Jerome of Toronto firing up his 3-1/2" gauge Timken 4-8-4. Photos by John Leonard.

Live Steamers' Meet, 1938

New 620 Ft. Track at Danvers, Mass., Accommodates Many Locomotives Sept. 18.

by John Leonard

Despite the worst kind of New England weather, a very satisfactory sixth annual Live Steamers Meet was held in Danvers, Mass., on Sept. 18. Besides the steam engine builders, a considerable crowd of interested spectators gathered.

This year the meet was held on the new track built by local brothers in Danvers. This track is 620 ft. long, and includes both 2-1/2" and 3-1/2" gauges. A large turntable, with its stalls, and an ample service track adjoin the loop, with which the latter connects by an ingenious transfer table device. The engines were run on a definite schedule, managed by E. W. Leaver. Since each engine's schedule was posted, most of them were fired and ready by the time their half-hour running periods began.

Despite a driving rain, the first engine to run, Charles A. Purinton's 4-4-4 tank engine, was fired and under steam at 10 o-clock. It was followed closely by a Timken "four aces" in 3/4" scale, built and run by Fred T. Jerome of Toronto. Seven other fine jobs followed these. We noticed particularly a very fine 3-1/2" gauge Pacific, Central Vermont prototype, built by Ralph McElvey of Portand, Me., and Harry Sait's B&A 4-6-6 tank. Ed Weaver ran his British Atlantic later in the day. Somewhat confusing was another 3-1/2" gauge Timken, built by C. F. Robbins of Keene, N. H. We were able to distinguish Mr. Robbin's engine from mr. Jerome's because the former carried a working power reverse gear.

As we have said, the weather was very poor--what New Englanders call an "easterly spell." Because the alternately drizzling and pouring rain kept the rails too wet for good traction, load-pulling tests were out, and some of the various engines, timed by Parker Kemble, were run on speed tests. Here are some results; time are given for one circuit of 620 ft.:

  • F. T. Jerome's 3-1/2" gauge 4-8-4 - 39.2 seconds
  • C. F. Robbins' 3-1/2" gauge 4-8-4 - 37.4 seconds
  • H. E. Sait's 3-1/2" gauge 4-6-6 tank (driven by Mr. Jerome) - 36.8 seconds

Before these tests were run, your reporter requested a ride from Mr. Jerome (who, as you can see, is a "highball" artist) and got it. Balancing on a trolley behind this gentleman, on a trestle 10 fto. above a little gulley, is only recommended for those with strong nerves!

When lunch (Mrs. Purinton's traditional and memorable fish cowder) was served, we had a chance to see some of the models and chassis under construction, which were exhibited under cover. The work done by live steamers on their little engines is deserving of respect by anyone who admires fine machine work.

George Roberts showed a beautiful array of parts and patterns for his CNR 4-6-4 engine. Lester Friend, the genial and hard working president of the Live Steamers, showed the chassis of a B&A 4-6-6 tank engine.

L. D. Langworthy, of Westerly, R. I., was on hand with a 3-1/2" gauge Hudson chassis and boiler.

S. O. Vaughn, of Brockton, Mass., had a Timken chassis, with real Timken bearings throughout. And there were many other very fine jobs. We noticed, too, a 3-1/2" gauge 0-4-0 chassis, shown by Charles S. Purinton, son of "Carl" Purinton, who, at 16, is probably the youngest operating live steamer in the country. A. W. Wegner brought a beautifully detailed Pacific chassis, 2-1/2" gauge, from Denver, Colo.

Here is a complete list of engines present:

  • 1-1/4" Gauge
    • 4-6-2--L.D. Friend, Marblehead, Mass., finished
    • 4-6-4 (Josie)--N. W. Burtt, Kenmore, N. Y., chassis
    • 4-6-4--G. B. Nutting, Saco, Me., chassis
  • 2-1/2" Gauge
    • 4-4-4 Tank--C. A. Purinton, Marblehead, Mass., finished, ran at the meet
    • 4-6-2 (B&O)--A. W. Wegner, Denver, Colo., chassis
    • 4-6-6 Tank--C. A. Purinton, Marblehead, Mass, finished
    • 4-4-2--H. B. Kimball, Swapscott, Mass., finished, ran at the meet
    • 4-6-0 (PRR G-5)--Joseph Pedrant, Yonkers, N. Y., chassis
    • 4-6-2--Albert Woodward, Marlboro, Vt., chassis, ran at the meet
    • 4-4-2--Norman Steele, Woods Hole, Mass., finished, ran at the meet
    • 2-8-4 (B&M)--Joseph Smythe, Lynn, Mass., finished, ran at the meet
  • 3-1/2" Gauge
    • 4-6-6 Tanker (B&A)--L. D. Friend, Marblehead, Mass., chassis
    • 4-6-4 (NYC)--A. L. Jones, Auburn, Mass., chassis
    • 4-6-4 (NYC)--C. A. Chabet, Worcester, Mass., chassis
    • 0-6-0--Stuart Evans, Utica, N. Y., chassis
    • 4-8-2 (New Haven)--Herbert Henry, Providence, R. I., chassis
    • 0-4-0--Charles S. Purinton, Marblehead, Mass., chassis
    • 4-6-4 (NYC)--L. D. Langworthy, Westerly, R. I., chassis and boiler
    • 4-6-2 (PRR)--C. W. Woodson, Aurora, N. Y., chassis
    • 4-4-2 (British)--E. W. Leaver, Providence, R. I., finished, ran at the meet
    • 4-6-4 (CNR)--George Roberts, Toronto, Ontario, chassis
    • 4-8-4 (Timken)--S. O. Vaughn, Brockton, Mass., chassis
    • 4-4-2 (Free-lance)--Gene Stevens, Norway, Me., finished, ran at the meet
    • 4-6-6T (B&A)--H. E. Sait, Old Orchard, Me., finished, ran at the meet
    • 4-8-4 (Timken)--F. T. Jerome, Tonronto, Ontario, finished, ran at the meet
    • 4-8-4 (Timken)--C. F. Robbins, Keene, N. H., finished, ran at the meet
    • 4-6-2 (CV)--Ralph Mc Elvey, Portland, Me., finished
    • 2-4-0--Walter Jordan, East Providence, R. I., chassis

Charles S. Purintan, 16-year-old son of the long-time secretary of the Live Steamers, ranks as youngest bonafide live steamer in the country. Here he is highballing Joseph Smythe's B&M job down the main stem at the meet. Photo by C. W. Woodson.