(NECN: Mike Cronin) - One man's trash is Jim Paquette's treasure.
“This is a hedge trimmer,” the Uxbridge man explains.
“It's a gasoline powered skill saw.”
He's restored engines, generators, even a bicycle in his Uxbridge, Mass. garage.
“They would only go 11 mph.”
A retired engineer, his latest project is a World War II steam engine. Paquette says 11,000 engines were built to power World War II liberty ships.
“If I had to guess, I would say there's less than 100 of these engines in existence.”
The machines were made by Whitin Machine Works in Whitinsville, just a few miles from his home.
“Their basic business was building spinning equipment for making yarn, but during World War II, the government came to them and asked them to build these engines.”
Paquette bought the steam engine 10 years ago from a scrap yard. He's just now getting around to cleaning it up.
He's enlisted the help of his grandson.
“Before this thing started, it was all like this color right here. All rust,” Ryan Paquette said.
He has learned a lot from his grandfather about old machinery. He admires what he does.
“I think it's really cool. I like everything he does, how he picks up old stuff that people would look on the side of the street and just say it's junk and it's something that he's really passionate about.”
The engine is already operational, now Paquette wants to restore it to its original condition and eventually donate it to a steam museum in Rhode Island. He says many old steam and gas engines have disappeared over the years. He wants to keep this part of history alive.”
“There are thousands of people like myself who just like this old iron and like to restore it.”