LeRoy Pennysaver & News

LE ROY PENNYSAVER & NEWS - JANUARY 29, 2023 by Lynne Belluscio Some of you might have been lucky enough to see Chris Rueby’s working model of LeRoy’s Marion #91 steam shovel. Chris’ model is featured in this month’s edition of “Live Steam.” The article also includes a very detailed history of the 100 ton “Consulship” as the Marion #91 was called. And as most of you know, the steam shovel on Gulf Road is the last remaining Marion #91 left in the world. It was placed on the National Historic Register in 2008. Chris began building his model in 2017. This was no easy task and it required thousands of detailed measurements and photographs. Chris’ model shows the shovel in its final configuration on the day that it was driven out of the quarry by Dominic Stefani in 1949. Dominic had been the chief operator of the machine for fourteen years. Originally these huge machines were equipped with railroad wheels called “trucks.” In fact, that was how the steam shovels were shipped from Ohio. The boom and bucket were placed on a flatbed railroad car, and the main engine was pulled behind. When the shovels were working in the quarries, a crew of men laid track so the shovel could move around the rock face. In 1923, the Marion Company offered conversion kits that would eliminate the railroad trucks and the need for tracks. The conversion kits also included “jackstands” on the side of the shovel as well as a small steam engine mounted behind the boiler that was used to steer the rear tractors. I knew that Chris was working on the model so when the crew from Steamtown National Site in Pennsylvania came to inspect the shovel, I called Chris and told him to come to LeRoy. He was with them the whole time taking pictures and asking questions. I also gave Chris a copy of their report. During the time that Chris was building the 1/16 model of the shovel, he was out to LeRoy often. Chris points out that the shovel was originally wood-framed and at some time it was replaced with metal siding. Chris explains how the four twin-cylinder engines operated the huge machine. In addition to the engine that moved the rear tractors, there were three other engines that worked off the boiler. There was the main hoist engine. The slew engine moved the boom from side to side. The crowd engine, which is located on the main boom, moved the dipper boom in and out. Chris explains in the article that these engines were designed by the Marion Company and were very efficient and made the Marion shovels very powerful! This was important for the shovel that came to LeRoy because it was being used to move stone, not earth. The Marion #91 was usually equipped with a 5 yard bucket, but General Crushed Stone Company who ordered and owned the shovel, had the shovel equipped with a smaller 2 ½ yard bucket. A couple of things that Chris does not mention in his article. The boiler of the shovel on Gulf Road is filled with honeycomb, and at the time the guys from Steamtown inspected it, the hive was filled with live bees. The crowd engine is filled with water because there is no protection from the weather. The huge boom is starting to warp because there is no support under the dipper. Chris does mention that a protective coat of a type of asphalt was applied to the exterior of the shovel in order to protect it and for over 60 years, that coating has helped preserve the shovel. However, the layer of asphalt has started to separate from the surface and water is beginning to collect beneath the surface and that is not good. Another problem that could easily be solved, is that the north side of the machine is open to the weather and the wooden floor is rotting because of the rain and snow that collects through the opening. And there are open seams in the roof that need to be sealed. Hopefully, all of these issues can be remedied in due time. For two years, Chris came out to LeRoy before Christmas and attached Christmas lights to the shovel. Perhaps some of you saw it. Unfortunately, this past year, that wasn’t possible. Age has crept up on all of us. Chris is willing to donate the lights, but we need to find a younger crew to decorate the Marion. Chris has also donated a set of his drawings to the Historian’s office. These drawings will be used for new signage at the site on Gulf Road which will be going up this coming year. And Chris will bring his working model of the Marion #91 back to LeRoy this year and folks will be able to see what an amazingmodel he has built. (A date has not been set yet, but it will be announced in the Pannysaver). We also hope a fund can be started to begin some restoration work on the last Marion 100 ton “Consulship.” Live Steam – Volume 57