Restoration of a 1902 Frick Traction Engine


Our 1902 Frick traction engine was donated to CAMA back in 2005, by CAMA member Dick Evert. Dick had begun a restoration of this engine following a fire where the garage containing the traction engine burned down around the engine.  The fire was hot enough to melt out all the babbitt from the bearings. Dick decided to donate the Frick to CAMA with the intention of completing the restoration in our shop in Kent. An early examination of the boiler indicated that the shell thickness was good, however, the boiler tubes were in poor condition necessitating retubing.  In August, 2009, the boiler was fired and passed state inspection. As of August, 2009, work remains to adjust the steam engine for proper operation, and to rebuild water tanks and wooden platforms destroyed in the fire.


Trevor Marshall inspecting the Frick engine in 2005. Dick Evert had arranged to store the traction engine at a boatyard on the Connecticut River. 


Dick Evert inspecting the condition of the steam engine on the Frick traction engine.


The late Dick Greene tries out the  controls of the Frick.


Inspection of the smoke box indicated that one tube (at least) had sprung a leak and was plugged.


Trevor Marshall gets down and dirty to inspect the Frick's firebox.

back in kent

After moving the Frick back to Kent in early 2006, it was determined that two staybolts in the crown sheet of the firebox were corroded and in need of replacement.  This required removal of the steam engine to access the bolts. 

Engine off

The steam engine was hoisted off with a combination of the gantry and a forklift. The engine is shown in the foreground of this photo.


This photo, taken in 2008, shows the smokebox end of the boiler after the old tubes were removed. Ultrasonic testing of the boiler shell and endsheets at this stage, indicated plenty of pressure vessel thickness, meaning retubing could commence. 


Jay Monroe is shown feeding a new boiler tube into the shell.  


Working in the cramped noisy bowels of the Frick, Trevor Marshall crawled into the firebox to receive tubes as they were inserted.


A special tool is used to expand the tube ends to make a tight fit against the end sheets. The protruding edges of the tubes are then rolled over using a pneumatic tool to complete the job. 

piping and painting

With the retubing completed, replumbing could begin.  Jim Daly also got a headstart on repainting.


In August of 2009, smoke can be seen rising from the stack of the Frick for the first time in many, many years. 


Where there's smoke, there must be fire.

steam pressure

Steam pressure begins to build.

The pressure relief valve does its job to prevent overpressure in the boiler.

This 2009 YouTube chronicles the first critical test steam-up to assure that the boiler and pressure relief valve operate correctly.

Running the Frick Traction Engine at the 2009 Fall Festival (YouTube)