Stan Grigg

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Steve Bratina wrote the following, August 2020:

Stan Grigg lived in Greensville Ontario and was the projectionist for the Strand Theatre in Hamilton Ontario. In 1945, he took a train to New York City to get plans of the new Niagara Locomotive from the offices of the New York Central.

Stan started construction of the engine in 1946 and as he progressed, he would stamp dates in the parts. The engine has dates from 1946 to 1954 while the tender has dates from 1954 to 1959. All the bronze patterns were cast at Ferguson's Foundry in Dundas Ontario. I have heard tell of people visiting Stan and seeing what looked to be good castings in the garbage can. Stan would say he didn't like the way they came out and will get another one cast at the Foundry.

He worked on the engine at home and in the basement of Riley's Hobby Shop in Hamilton Ontario. There was a small machine shop down there. He would come to the hobby shop in the afternoon, work on the engine, then go to work at the Strand which was next door.

The finished engine was set on rollers and was piped into the chimney of the house. He would fire the engine up and run it on these rollers. My drafting teacher remembers visiting Stan a few times and said his was the only house in the neighbourhood that chuffed.

Stan had built a beautiful 1 inch scale CNR 6100 class Northern previous to this engine. It too ran in the basement. This engine eventually made the rounds through a few owners. As Stan got older, I was told his legs began to give him troubles and near the end, he rushed the tender so as he could finish it. The one side is not quite right and may be due to this. The tender has a bronze cast water bottom frame and weighs about 100lbs alone. The engine is about 160 lbs.

Stan passed away in the 1960's and the Niagara was eventually purchased by Berkeley Gilbert of the GHLS Club. He ran it once or twice at Art Ellis's track in St Catherines Ontario. They had to remove the front truck to get it to go around the curves. Berkeley began some upgrades such as installing a mechanical lubricator but later sold the engine to a Mr Morrison of the TSME club. I tried to purchase the engine in 1984 but missed the opportunity to do so. The engine had been sold to an individual in South Carolina. Bob Zawarski of Bethlehem PA eventually bought the engine from the estate of this man.

It was from Bob that I purchased the engine in 2014. From that first try in 1984, I never forgot about this engine and always tried to track it down again for another kick at the can. I located the engine when re-reading an old letter written to me by the late Harold Crouch. In this 1998 letter, he mentions that there is a guy in Bethlehem PA with a Canadian built Niagara looking for information on it. I was re-reading this letter in 2013. I don't know how I misses reading about the engine the first time. Through the live steam grapevine, Doug Pyatt of the NJLS Club was able to come up with the name Bob Zawarski. I contacted Bob and we agreed on a price. I picked the engine up in March of 2014. It took thirty years from the original attempt to buy the engine until finally getting the engine. The engine was completely dismantled by Bob when I purchased it but it was all there in neat little boxes and containers.

I gave it a complete rebuild and I have installed an alcohol burner. I am hoping to have the engine finished and ready to run by fall of 2020.

David Oram Photos

Steve Bratina sent the following email, 3 April 2023:

Here are some pictures of Stan’s CNR Northern that you can add to his page. The engine was started in the 1930’s and was finished before he started on the Niagara. These pictures are courtesy of David Oram’s collection.

Steve Bratina shared this YouTube video posted by David Oram of Stan’s engine running in his basement.

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