A 100-year-old steam engine with a new purpose

Brendon Adams, the current custodian of a rare Tangye 5 HP Colonial 5” x 7” Steam Engine. Photo: Catherine Fry.


For diesel mechanic and Hauraki Vintage Machinery Club Inc stalwart Brendon Adams, buying a rare vintage steam engine from the family of his good friend, the late Murray Stent, was a no-brainer.

“Murray had put so much time and effort into restoring the machine, and none of us wanted it to leave the area,” says Brendon.

The Tangye 5 HP Colonial 5” x 7” Steam Engine, No. 1576, is a well-travelled machine, starting life in Birmingham, England, circa 1910. It was used to drive a milking machine at Ongarue, in the King Country. “Before electricity, this type of steam engine was used in the dairy industry and sawmills,” says Brendon.

After a fire, the machine lay outside Bolton’s Garage in Ongarue for many years. Over time all the bearings, brass and governor were stripped off.

The engine was “rescued” in 1983 and brought to Auckland. It came into Murray Stent’s possession in 2000, and that was exactly the right place for it end up, says Brendon.

“Murray was a man of steam, he’d be one of the last steam engine drivers to work in a steam-powered sawmill.

“He had also worked at Price’s Foundry in Thames and had a heap of knowledge in that area.”

Murray used his skills to make patterns for the brass fittings, and then machined them himself. The engine is fitted with the original valve tail rod pump for boiler feed. Parts from a Boothmac stationary baler were used to make a carriage for the engine to sit on and be transported more easily.

“Murray’s attention to detail, and meticulous craftsmanship can be seen throughout the machine.”

A beautifully made wooden box sits on the carriage, carrying rags and oil. The whole engine is in excellent condition, and runs well when attached to a steam source.

When Brendon bought the engine, he immediately saw a use for it, which would not only keep it in the area but also assist with another restoration project close to his heart.

He has a vertical, wood-fired boiler from Auckland Gas Works, sitting in his shed. When he can get that up and running, there is the perfect space for it on the steam engine’s carriage.

Brendon is intending to use the engine to power the Kerepehi Flax Mill in Kaihere, where he and other enthusiasts are hoping to get it up and running as a museum for the area.

“It would be the perfect home for the engine, and I am sure Murray would be delighted with that outcome.”

Does your farm or your boss have a pet tractor? Or maybe a pet digger or bulldozer? If so, we’d love to hear about it! Email: merle@sunmedia.co.nz with a photo of it and a contact name and phone number. We might even throw a prize your way for a good yarn.


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