Out of the hills of New England

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Jim Robinson's 1955 International TD14 dozer

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Part 2

A big, red 1955 dozer - an International TD14 with a Buckeye Erie blade attached - helped mark the entrance to the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association's showgrounds during the annual fall festival in September last year. The dozer's owner, Jim Robinson of Derby, Conn., says he is only the second person to hold title to the big machine, which survived the flood of 1955 in the Housatonic and Naugatuck river valleys. For the past six or seven years, Jim has kept it at the CAMA showgrounds, north of Kent, Conn., and used it on a variety of tough tasks.

The big, red dozer also serves as a herald for more machinery that's parked down the lane. Agricultural Hall, on the far side of the showgrounds, shelters a number of vintage gasoline tractors owned by CAMA members, a couple of steam traction engines awaiting boiler work and a very well-preserved Buffalo Springfield road roller. Most of the tractors were out and moving about the showgrounds for the festival, mingling with other classics brought in just for the occasion.

The oldest 'visiting' tractor may have been a 1920 Titan 10-20, owned by Art Downs of Washington, Conn. An International collector, Art says he bought the tractor 10 years ago out of New York state and thinks it probably was used primarily for belt work as the wheels aren't very worn.

Possibly the shiniest tractor on display was a 1944 Massey-Harris model 81, serial no. 404758, owned by Richard Larusso of New Milford, Conn. He recently had the tractor professionally restored; it is rated as a two-plow machine, powered by a six-cylinder Continental engine with a 3.002-inch bore and a 3.38-inch stroke. The tractor features a three-speed transmission and has a maximum road speed of 12 mph.

A father-and-son restoration team, Louis and Steve Tencza, also of New Milford, trucked in a freshly restored 1939 Cletrac model EG42 that they bought derelict from Larusso, who is a neighbor. Along with it, the Tenczas showed a 1947 Gibson model D; Steve's own 1950 Ford 8N, which was featured in the Classic MotorBooks calendar a few years ago; a 1935 Farmall F-12 on iron wheels and a 1948 McCormick-Deering W-6 Standard, all fully restored.

Jay Monroe of Wilton, Conn., brought his Connecticut-made Beaver garden tractor and a CoPar Panzer, both dating to the mid-1950s. The Shaw 'Du-All' folks, holding their 2002 national show in conjunction with the festival, displayed 43 Shaws, including a bicycle with a Shaw engine in it that came all the way from Parsons, Kan.

The Shaw celebration was centered in a grove near Agricultural Hall, and Cliff Bridgford of Litchfield, N.H., national president of the group, said 16 exhibitors were responsible for the display. He personally brought the restored walk-behind model that his dad bought him 'to play with' when he was 9 years old -in 1959. Many in the group hope to attend the 100th anniversary Shaw celebration, scheduled for this July in Galesburg, Kan.

Toward the south end of the showgrounds, a quartet of couples set up small machine displays in front of their RVs - intent on getting in some good visiting with each other, as well as showing off their machines. Bill and Barb Davison of both Plainville, Conn., and Tribune, Kan., brought an extensive display of small domestic and military generators; Ed and Anne Jones exhibited brass oilers and 'What is its,' over which visitors enjoyed puzzling. Ed and Ruth Chicoine of Southampton, Mass., and Fred and Lois Nason of Westfield, Mass., set up corn grinders for visitors to watch and work.

Bill has been on the hydraulics and pneumatics faculty of the School of Technology at Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, for 32 years, and he is widely known for his Briggs and Stratton collection, which numbers about 400 engines. 'I'm missing an FJ1 and an FJ2,' he says, 'and so is every other collector in the world. They're out there; finding them is the trick.'

Bill and Barb also collect Griswold cast iron, gasoline (laundry) irons, air-cooled engines and generators - and a number of the generators were on display this year at Kent. Bill says they're a reminder of home and his childhood days in Kansas, where some of the couple's vintage farm machinery remains.

The generators on display were used for both domestic and military tasks -'Just about anything you can think of, they did.' He cites such military examples as heating armored combat tanks and operating radio equipment: 'They were a big part of the war effort.'

The oldest of Bill's generators on display at Kent dates to 1928, but he says he has some even older back home. Also on display was an Onan Electric Lite Plant, dating to 1932, which produced 110 volts on AC and 6 volts on DC, and had a 500-watt capacity at 1,800 rpm. It was powered by a 60-cycle model A Briggs and Stratton engine. A 6-volt Delco Lite airline charger, sold by both Montgomery Ward & Co., and Sears, Roebuck & Co., is similar to one used by Bill's parents to light their Kansas farmhouse before rural electrification came through in the 1940s. Bill remembers a windmill was used to charge the batteries on the generator.

Ed and Ruth trailered in a selection of old-fashioned corn grinders - and plenty of corn to keep the machines turning. Visitors saw how dried corn, still on the cob, was transformed in earlier times into meal for making such human foods as bread, flapjacks or mush, and livestock chow.

The Chicoines' display included a 1 1/2-hp 1917 Economy engine that powered an early-1920s David Bradley burr mill; a hand-crank International corn sheller of unknown age, but probably from the early 1940s; an early 1920s hand-crank Fulton 'style P' box grinder and an early 1920s Red Chief box grinder.

The International, which has that name on one side and 'McCormick' on the other, has a separator on it, so the cobs come out one hole; the grist out the next hole down, and the corn kernels out a third, at the very bottom. The Fulton sports a number of holes in its cast-iron body, and Ed says he thinks the design aimed to save metal and to help move cobs efficiently through the grinding apparatus, which ensured all kernels were removed. The Red Chief was made in Louisville, Ky.; children especially enjoyed operating it and the Fulton, both of which had hand cranks, to see how the machines worked.

'The grinders are all adjustable,' Ed says, noting they were probably used to grind feed for livestock, most likely fowl. Fred made a screen for Ed's burr mill, to separate the finer meal for cooking from the more coarse meal, for livestock or wild bird feed.

Of the foursome, Fred and Lois frequent an Amish gristmill near Ronks, Pa., which operates with a 16-foot overshot waterwheel. There, they stock up on their favorite roasted corn, which they use for the grinding demonstrations. Wearing his trademark top hat, Fred mixes cornmeal batter from scratch, using the freshly ground meal, bakes it into bread in a vintage camp oven and shares it with the crowd. FC

Cream Hill School rebuilt

The historic Cream Hill Agricultural School has been reconstructed on the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association's showgrounds. CAMA acquired the old school building in 1988, to save it from demolition, moved it to the showgrounds and reconstructed it in 1994.

The building was built by Samuel and Theodore Gold about 1845 in Cornwall, Conn., and remained in use until about 1930; the Golds taught 'the newest, scientific methods of farming,' which is why CAMA took on the project. CAMA member Bob Hunderford describes Cream Hill as 'a linear antecedent to the University of Connecticut,' and notes many original instructional furnishings, and Gold family personal items, remain in the building.