My name is Steve Bratina and I live in Cambridge Ontario. My first locomotive was purchased from a gentleman named Alex Skelton of Hamilton Ont. He started the loco around 1935 when an article in The Model Maker Magazine showed how to build a 3/4" Pennsy G5 using some of Coventry's castings. He continued building this loco with hopes of one day giving it to his grandson. Things didn't work out but he finally finished it in 1982. At this time he decided to sell it.
I was lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time and purchased the engine. Its first run at the old GHLS track at the pioneer village was a disaster. The engine wouldn't run and I ended up with 5 stitches in my pinky finger.
Over the winter of 1983/84, I was taken under the wing of some GHLS members like Berkeley Gilbert and Jack Greene. They guided me along with Joe Fosters book. In the summer of 1984, it ran fairly well but could still improve some. I attended the Winsor meet in September and there I met Tom Sullivan. He described his kerosene burner and how to make it work properly. That winter, I totally disassembled the engine and went at her whole hog.
In the rebuild, I installed a burner, put viton "O" rings in the pistons and piston valves and rebuilt other components as advised by the club members. The springing was changed to allow more flexing and the engine came out of the shop that spring. On kerosene, it worked very well. There were a few teething problems with some components but I was very pleased with the out come. I was going to leave the tender as is but after a day of running, I brought the tender home and ended up dropping it on the garage floor. I was so ticked at doing this, I spent the next several days making all the steps and do dads and removing a big dent on the side. It ended up looking much better.
Around 1987, I changed over to methyl hydrate instead of kerosene and have not seen the fron tube sheet since. The engine has been a perfect performer (for me) and has been to various meets over the years. There has been no major work done since the 1984/85 rebuild. The original "O" rings are still in it. I think that its dependability is due more to Mr Skelton's original work than anything I have done. I really enjoy running this old girl and even though there have been a few derailments over the years, ther was nothing that one night in the shop couldn't fix.