"Restoration labor of love for son of locomotive’s creator" by: Mike Reddell

Sentinel photo/Mike Reddell
Bay City Lions Club members gather around their recently restored replica steam engine that has pulled carloads of Rice Festival goers since the 1950s. Sitting in the driver’s seat is Ellsworth Machlan, the son of the steam engine’s 1952 creator and who restored his father’s engine after 66 years of use. The Lions are, from left, Bill Newton, Tom Stanley, Gary Green, Stan Eldridge and Club President Terry Farrar.

   A 66-year-old steam locomotive carrying carloads of kids at the Bay City Lions Club Rice Festival for most of its life was given new life by the son of the locomotive’s maker.
   H.A. Machlan of El Campo built the replica steam locomotive in 1952 – he had worked on the engine for eight to 10 years - from the plans of a full-size steam locomotive, said his son, Ellsworth Machlan, also of El Campo.
   Machlan was at the Rice Festival Saturday to be with family members and Lions to mark the new beginning for the old locomotive.
   After the elder Machlan built the locomotive in 1952, he loaned it out to groups hosting events in El Campo and throughout the area – East Bernard, Palacios, Eagle Lake and the Bay City Lions Club Rice Festival.
   There are several Lions members who rode the train as kids in the 1950s and saw their succeeding generations climb aboard in the years that followed.
   The Lions purchased the locomotive in 1962 and the engine pulled the Rice Festival trains through the years.
   Last year, 2017, was the only year the engine was out of commission, Lion Bill Newton said.
   The locomotive’s parts “just wore out. They were so worn out the engine just couldn’t function right,” he explained.
   Newton and fellow Lions Gary Green, Billie Mann and Tom Stanley first tried to fix the old locomotive themselves in one of their garages, but they soon found the project beyond even their proven mechanical abilities.

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