Bethlehem Blowing Engines Work Session Report


Seven volunteers converged on the blowing engine house this morning for this, the fourth work session at Bethlehem Steel. Our task was to continue working on the number 11 and 10 engines, and through the course of the day it felt as if we painted a mile of handrails!

One major accomplishment was breaking free the number 11 engine. With an arrangement that would make Rube Goldberg proud, we used a 1 ton chain hoist to pull the flywheel over a couple of degrees. It was just enough to verify that all the rods and pistons could move and were not frozen in their bores.

Our improvised engine turning gear.

Yep! It moved alright! View of the blowing tub tailrod support

Ray Boothe and Mike Piersa taking a break amongst the freshly painted handrails of the number 11 engine. Notice the control panel on the right that Ray has freshly repainted silver.


New member
Keep us informed about the next work session.

My brother and I were botg planning to be there this weekend. Unfortunately,
I pulled my back and would not have been any help. By brother got
unexpected company from overseas.


Here is what engines 10 and 11 looked like at the end of Sunday.

Here is engine number 11 with newly painted handrails.

View of engines 11 and 10.

The control panels were repainted. Gauge faces were removed, rims painted and glass cleaned and reinstalled. The green valve stand on the left is from a can of original Bethlehem dark engine green, and was a test to see what that color would look like. We are going to match that color and have enough made up to eventually repaint both of these engines.

It is our intention to make these two engines look as close as possible to the way they did when in operation. The six other single blowing engines and three of the four twin engines will probably not receive anything more than conservation work, while eventually three engines will be restored.

Many thanks to Dr. Boothe who paid for most of the supplies used this weekend, and to our volunteers who scraped and painted until they could not longer stand it!


This is a rather poor qualiy photo, but is the only color photo I have of the gas engines.

The one thing that this photo shows clearly is how bright the engines once were. We are used to seeing dark engines in a drab building, but this photos shows that is only a recent occurance. The engines were kept well painted, the red tile floors were cleaned and polished, and the walls painted silver to give the building a brighter appearance.

Our intention is to restore a portion of the engine house to this appearance.

This photo came from a 1952 Bethlehem Steel produced booklet about the Bethlehem plant. The picture was taken before Bethlehem started painting all of the handrails on the engines yellow, and this is a photo of the number 17 generating engine.


New member
The Jacktown engine show is only about 20 miles from Bethlehem

The Washington, NJ show is a few miles farther.

Possible you could coordinate having a work day on the weekend when they
are having the show.

You may not have the exhibitors helping but many of the visitors have to go right by Bethlehem on their way to and from the shows.