Connecticut Antique Machinery Association 1990


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47 Clinton Avenue, Westport, Connecticut 06880. Reprinted from the Spring 1991 Connecticut Antique Machinery Newsletter

Although the 1990 Fall Festival was the largest to date, with 275 exhibitors, the friendly spirit of earlier shows was still very much evident. New show-goers commented that they couldn't find a better bunch of people anywhere and exhibitors were pleased with the enthusiasm shown by the crowds. It was also a great time to chat with old friends, and, as always, the show seemed to be over too soon.

During the week preceding the Festival, volunteers worked on the grounds, putting out stakes and ropes, hooking up the steam soup kettle to its manifold, setting up our new food booth, and assembling steam lines for the engines and model table. They also hooked up our 85 HP Ames boiler to the steam lines from the Industrial Hall, completed the feeding heater and condenser lines for the Tiffany and Pickett engine, and installed its muffler on the roof.

Our new mill whistle, donated by Kevin Shail, was mounted above the roof with the large two-stage valve placed inside. When we tried the whistle, we found the pilot valve leaked and needed lapping. While we were taking it apart, something fell inside the steam riser pipe. We took off the fitting at the end of the run and placed a bucket there. Opening the steam valve, we gave it a shot of steam from the boiler, and, along with several gallons of condensate, we retrieved a spring. We also found that the valve main piston was stuck, so we took the valve down for re-machining, after which it worked fine.

As things worked out, the feed pump for the Ames boiler was perhaps a little undersized and worn, but by dropping the boiler pressure a bit, we were able to get it to work. This package boiler was built in the mid 40's and was donated to us by Henry Miliski, who had it set up on a trailer to be fully automatic for rental as an emergency steam-heat unit. One of its last commercial jobs was to supply heat one winter for our state capitol in Hartford. Cleaned up and painted, when the boiler was running, it was an interesting and attractive exhibit in its own right.

Dudley Diebolds New Huber steam traction engine arrived a few days before the show, and after unloading, it was towed in with Mort Lowenthal's Russell traction engine. Temporary power lines were run overhead from the electrical panel, through the trees, to the Industrial Hall, to supply electricity for lights and the Ames boiler. Water hoses were run from the well to supply the boilers. All of the boilers passed their state inspections on Friday and were ready for operation.

On Saturday, a large group of people turned out to help. Ed Bezanson came early in the day with his motor home and family, and soon had his children helping him put the contents of the five-bay shed into shape. Also among those setting up was Asa Beckwith, with his operating blacksmith exhibit. Our crew of volunteers made quick work of the remaining projects, and by sundown we were ready for the public. The weather had cooperated all week and on Sunday it continued to do so. The Tiffany and Pickett engine ran the whole day, and the mill whistle worked perfectly. Attendance was up and the day had few problems.

New this year was a bake sale/food booth, with soup from our steam kettle, along with coffee and iced tea. All these services were huge successes and were supplied and staffed by Marina Golub, Noni Diebold, Peg and Don Capozi, Nancy Stuart, Felicity Sidewell, Dolly Whitney, Caitland Diebold, Stephanie and Ali Gennaris, Eric Phelan, Martha Carlstrum, Katherine Current, Ellie Lowenthal, Pat Leonard, Mrs. Reeves, Theo Golub, Janet Coates, Alice Hungerford, Mark Wilson, Leo Meyer, Francine Oliva, Toni Chila, and Jean Stauffer. One of the big hits was Eric Phelan's carrot cakes they went fast and all day long people were asking for more. Eric, who is 10years old, might consider a career as a baker or chef.

Noni Diebold came up with a great recipe for vegetable soup, and served it piping hot from our large steam kettle; it sold very fast. From a booth donated by George Brower, the ladies sold cakes, cookies, and coffee. Other food services were supplied by George Brower, who brought in his colorful popcorn wagon as he has in the past. But this year, he also brought along a booth where he served french fries and chicken sandwiches. Again this year, the Kent Lions Club served up their good fixings of soda, coffee, hamburgers and hotdogs. New, was the addition of a breakfast menu, which included coffee, donuts, and a sausage-and-egg sandwich.

Our hospitality tent was again staffed under the able direction of John and Jean Stauffer, with Dick Greene, Katherine Current, Pat Leonard, Myron Winifred, and Fred Witt. This hard-working group served a constant stream of fair goers, who wanted to take out memberships and buy souvenirs. Our raffle engine this year, a 1930 1VS HP McCormick Deering engine, was rebuilt by our resident master restorer, Bob Current. It was won by David Thorp of Cheshire, who wanted to buy a full book of five tickets. Halfway through filling in the stubs, he was called away to get a hamburger. Upon returning, he found someone had taken the middle ticket in the book he wanted. A bit upset, he was persuaded by Pat Leonard to take a substitute ticket, #911, which was the winning number. Coincidentally, Mr. Thorp is a Connecticut State Representative who initiated the 911 emergency telephone legislation. Now, how's that for a raffle ticket story? (Since then, we've learned that David Thorp has donated the engine back for the 1991 Festival raffle.)

Steam has continued to grow, with many nice stationary exhibits hooked up to the manifolds at this year's show. Among them, a vertical single-cylinder engine, which once ran a machine shop, was brought in by Al Meyers and his father Al, Sr. They spent most of the week finalizing the details and painting of this finely restored engine. There was also a horizontal 35 HP sawmill engine, a small tailor shop engine (which once ran several sewing machines) and a nice model of a portable boiler on skids with a beautifully built Corliss engine mounted on top of the boiler. Dan Reeve spent the day with Alan Carlstrom in the Industrial Hall running the big Tiffany and Pickett Greene engine, and keeping steam supplied to all of the other engines, as well as tending our Ames boiler. Tom Trenka and Frank Olivia operated the Buffalo steam roller and our steam crew was filled out with Mort Lowenthal and Frank Cassella operating Mort's Russell traction engine.

This year's crafts section was the largest yet with 23 crafters exhibiting and selling all sorts of items including stained glass, wooden bowls, toys, leather goods, pottery, home craft, beads and jewelry. There was also a silhouette artist. Lee Pedersen was there with his tent and a nice display for both the engine men and the general public.

Many of the exhibits were so finely restored, that they looked like showroom samples from a sales floor rather than antiques. Among these was one of the oldest engines, but a new one at our show. It was a Reeco-Rider hot-air engine owned and restored by Jim Boice of Salt Point, New York. Another example of this unique class of engine was a similarly restored Reeco-Ericsson engine owned by George Covill. Jerry Ellis of Winsted, Connecticut also had a nice display of model gas and hot-air engines. Other finely restored exhibits included antique cars, such as a 1904 Olds, along with many trucks, tractors, and stationary exhibits. There were all sorts of gas engines, from a small Maytag to a 17 HP Ruston/Hornsby diesel engine. There were pumps, lathes, corn shellers, an ensilage cutter, feed grinders, wood splitters, drag saws, orchard sprayers, cider presses and buzz saws. Other attractive exhibits included Mark Bianco's restored lawnmowers and Mike Nott's English-style model traction engines. There was also an interesting safe display and a nicely restored motor canoe.

Exhibitors came from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island. Mike Cleary of Bolivar, New York, who traveled the farthest, (7 hours) brought a trailer with a gas-engine-powered machine shop. With its line shafting and belts, the shop demonstrated the uses and transmission of mechanical power. Along these lines, what seems to please the public the most are working exhibits something being run from a belt on an engine and we are continuing to encourage this type of display.

Again this year, the Dennis Sharon family of Ridgefield hosted a picnic for friends and relatives and had over 35 guests attend. Our tag sale was run by Vinny Reynolds, who, along with his sons, also worked hard all year long keeping the grounds in shape. We also had an increase this year in the number of tractors, representing manufacturers such as Case, John Deere, Panzer, Farmall, Massey-Harris, Ford and Beaver. There was also a 1918 Indiana. With our new ensilage cutter and wood planer, tractors with power take-offs had something to work with. Kevin Biebel delivered our New Holland rock crusher and elevator. With some work, the unit should be ready for next year's show.

Revenues were up, and a great job was done by Fred Phelan, Foster Whitney, Ed Vaniky, Mark Wilson, Gabe Harris, Bill van Derbogart, Bob Amstutz, Pat Rudzavice, Babe Pitcher, Jack Farrell, and Nicki Hine, who acted as lot supervisors, spotters, admission collectors, and shuttle bus drivers. The weather was dry and crisp during the show that is. But towards evening, after the crowds came and left, and after most of the exhibitors had packed up and left too, a very light drizzle began to fall. Nothing to be concerned about at this stage. However, one of the last ones out of the gate, Tony Dorbuck reported rain so heavy by the time he got home, that water was gushing up through the holes in manhole covers. Serves him right for hanging around so long!

On Monday, the grounds were picked up, campers, trailers, exhibits gone or put away, bare areas seeded, trash taken to the dump. Boilers were drained and benches were put away. On Tuesday, when I spoke to John Stauffer, one of our steady volunteers who is retired, he said that after two weeks of working on the grounds in Kent and getting ready for the show, he now doesn't know what to do with him self he feels 'retired' again. I tried to reassure him there was plenty to do, but he did have a point. The show was a success and over, so now, on to next year. The 1991 show is scheduled for September 29.