- Posted January 16, 2014 by
Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine The Eclipse Corliss Engine Group Classic Engineering
I have a few "books" to write, but there's not enough time in a day! As to the work, yes, it's a big undertaking. Keep in mind, Steve was full time on this. I worked Saturdays and some vacation days, and evenings making missing parts and researching. Since the first couple of years, others have joined in, some are regulars, some come and go, but it really helps to have a club or team approach to this.
Going into this, I knew it was going to involve a big commitment. I was working on some 7-1/4" gage live steam railroading projects, and building my home shop with side jobs, in between raising 5 kids. The kids were pretty much out of the nest, so it made room for this, but I still had to balance this with my home life and a business. What won out was the chance to work with the actual real thing, not a model or a replica.
It had to be preserved, as a piece of steam history, as a piece of local history, and the story had to be told. It literally was dropped in our laps to do. At every turn of the project, the right amount of money or materials would appear in the nick of time. Every time we couldn't get an approval, someone came through with an alternative to keep the project alive. I will probably never know how many friends we had working behind the scenes on our behalf. While no one could accuse me of being overly devout, I do believe in God and I do believe he likes steam engines, because there could be no other explanation for the amazing good fortune that has accompanied this project.
So, I'd say this to anyone that finds himself in a similar position:
Find a group of like mind friends in your area and just go do it.
Don't be intimidated. Like building a model, it happens one operation at a time, before you know it, you've got a few hundred operations behind you and it starts to come together.
As an unavoidable side effect, you get an education. When I started this project, I knew only the basics about a Corliss engine, less about the L.C. Smith Typewriter Company, and little about stationary steam accessories. Now, ten years later, I can rattle on about any of these topics as long as anyone cares to listen.
In addition, I couldn't begin to count all the great people I have met in the course of doing this. Steamers, teachers, historians, engineers, professors, modelers, engine men, tractor men.....well, you get the idea. It's an enriching experience. And now I get to relive it while telling the story here to a new group of friends! - Jim Mackessy
The Eclipse Corliss Engine Group Classic Engineering