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Original John Bull Engine Smithsonian Institution

John Bull Steam Engine Info

1893 Columbian Exposition

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NY License Plate
David Morrison

 I read in the Autumn/Winter 1990 "The High Line" of the Philadelphia Chapter PRR Tech & Historic Society magazine something quite interesting.  In discussing the 1940 NY World's Fair and the John Bull PRR replica that had operated at the Fair, the following was written about what happened with the John Bull replica after the Fair was over: 
"LIRR employees decided to run the John Bull replica from the fair to the Morris Park Shops, where it would be readied for shipment to Chicago to participate in ceremonies inaugurating the S1 into regular service.  However, the trip took almost 4.5 hours to cover the eight miles because the fire twice grew low enough to force the crew to search for burnable wood in the neighborhood."

At last, we know that the John Bull replica operated over the tracks of the LIRR. What an interesting story, too - in 1940 LIRR employees were searching for wood for a locomotive.  Dave Morrison


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1892-93 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition John Bull Ticket

This scarce original ticket was issued for use on one day - September 16, 1893 - which was Railroad Day at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair - the Columbian Exposition. It was issued by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company for use on the John Bull Train which was the centerpiece of the Railroad's exhibit at the Fair. The ticket allowed Mrs. S. Wolfe to ride the train on that day - it was for first-class passage.

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USA Scott Catalog  #2365

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2008 Lionel Trains Catalog Vol. 1 Signature Edition artwork

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Bullville, NY FDC 10/01/1987

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Bachmann Trains:  The John Bull Set

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John Bull with an advertising banner on it for the 
May 17th dedication day.  
Photo: Dave Morrison 05/11/2008

The crane that lifted the Hicksville John Bull and the John Bull pilot assembly had the capability of weighing the pieces that were lifted. The total weight of the Hicksville John Bull is 15,000 pounds.

Featured Tour: 

Saturday, May 17
8:15 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
$35, Museum members $30
Children (5–17) $15

All aboard for a day-long outing to celebrate a remarkable chapter of railroad history in Hicksville, Long Island. Acquired by the Smithsonian in 1884, the 1831 English-made John Bull locomotive served on one of the United States' early railroads, the Camden and Amboy, and subsequently influenced the design for Ariel, the famed first locomotive of the Long Island Railroad, built in 1835. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Jim Pavone, president of the Hicksville Chamber of Commerce, we can now celebrate the dedication of a full-size replica of the John Bull at Kennedy Memorial Park, followed by a visit to the Gregory Museum’s own steam locomotives and a railroad symposium. Lunch will be provided.

John Bull Dedication Day, Hicksville  May 17th, 2008

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Hicksville Chamber of Commerce 
John Bull 1831 Plaque
Photo: Al Castelli
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Dedication view N
Photo: Al Castelli
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John Bull driver detail 
Photo: Al Castelli.

Wood Construction Information

When I found the tree in upstate New York it was a white Oak tree. It was timber from a tree growing in the 1820's/1830's. time period (John Bull era) and came from Cayuga, NY, about 280 miles from Hicksville.  The timber looked very good, but it did have checks (apparent cracks and or imperfections in the timber). I used a marine Epoxy that would be applied several times to insure penetration and seal out any potential problems. It worked very well. It was done to preserve the frame in and out of doors for display. I went over it until it was solid. Then primed it twice and finish coated the Green.
The wheels were even more intensely considered. The wheels are hickory and ash. The wheels were contracted for with the famed wheel Wright -Jacob Witmer and his son Dale, in New Holland, PA. We had many discussions and it took about $10,000.00 to construct the wheels that were approx .(4) -  55" in Diameter and(2) - 28" Cow Catcher. The wood was coated with boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits. They were mixed at a 50/50 ratio. It was observed in our discussions that the survival rates would be greatly enhanced following this procedure. We did! The solution was applied with spray bottles and left to dry for a week at a time and repeated the process three times. The wheels were primed and painted . The Locomotive is set 30" above grade to insure the maximum snow drifts that average 24"  would be able to protect the wheels from various forms of precipitation.
We did the same procedure with the cab. It is our intention to maintain the locomotive.
The engine was bead blasted and metalized by Atlantic Coast Metalizing & Coatings Corporation, in Melville, NY. The engine was then epoxy coated for longevity and final coat painted. I believe we will be using a wax to preserve the finish and it is being looked into. We expect to maintain the John Bull like an Airplane; something I am very familiar with. It will be maintained 100%. It will become the property of the Town of Oyster Bay on May 17th, and  I will need to complete a full comprehensive maintenance and facility report to insure that maintenance is properly done and recorded.
I have taken the steps to insure that the locomotive is properly constructed and maintained. Did I forget something? It is possible, but as time moves on we will have the knowledge to alter and make changes. It was built to last and it can be said of other structures like the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, "...if properly maintained it will last a lifetime..."
I hope this sheds some light on the process we considered. The information isn't generally spoke about as it is considered behind the scenes and for those more deeply interested it is posted here.
Best regards, Jim Pavone