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Corliss engine

Installation of the 400 HP Special Murrey Corliss engine which is now housed in the new museum building with our story writer, Pat Cross, standing in front of flywheel, to give you some conception of its size. Courtesy of Andrew J. Fischels, Antique Acres

Andrew J. Fischels

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Pres., & Patty Cross, Resident Antique Acres, Inc.,Cedar Falls, Iowa

Talk about news! Talk about change! Just take a gander at the showground's of Antique Acres, Cedar Falls, Iowa.

The year of 1975 at Antique Acres' Oldtime Power Show turned out to be a very busy year for many of the members. Beginning as early as February, a 400 H.P. Murrey Special Corliss Engine was acquired and during the following thirty days or so, several trips, 80 miles south of the Acres, were necessary. First to disassemble the engine, which required about ten people, one full day, the hiring of a crane, arranging for two low-boys, one large farm truck, and several pick-ups to bring the engine to Antique Acres, four and one-half miles north of Cedar Falls, Iowa. On arrival here, it required another large crane to unload the engine parts on railroad ties, spacing these parts in such a way that they were accessible for cleaning. Then, of course, it required another full day on the part of Andrew J. Fischels, Pres. and Harold Pries, Sec.-Treas. and another trip to Whatcheer, Iowa, along with a lot of measuring to make a foundation lay-out print for the fly-wheel pit, fly-wheel outrigger bearing, main engine base, and a very accurate lay-out for anchor bolts. As soon as the weather moderated, so you could work outdoors with reasonable comfort, there was about two weeks of scraping grease and twice over with a steam gun to get all the possible grease off we could. Then a man was obtained with a portable sand-blaster and beginning at one end of the parts line-up, each piece was sand-blasted clear down to the bare cast iron and immediately sprayed with a rustoleum preservative. Then began the digging of the fly-wheel pit opening and foundation for the outrigger fly-wheel bearing. Forms were made up and the fly-wheel pit and out-rigger bearing base were poured. Next came the main engine base forms to be put in, anchor bolts located and template, and the main engine base poured. Two weeks later, the engine was mounted on the base, out-rigger bearing set, half of fly-wheel put down into pit, crank shaft installed, top half of fly-wheel put on crank shaft, and fly-wheel, both rim and hub, bolted together. Next was the setting of the base for the cylinder section and then mounting the cylinder section on the base and bolting to the engine main frame. This all required a full-time crane operator and at least a half dozen people. This was a 'big' project and they worked long, hard hours, hoping to have it ready for Showtime, August 21-24. And it was! Standing there in all its glory, turning 35 RPM's. It was powered by the Smolik Brothers' 110 Case Steam Engine and engineered by Andrew J. Fischels.

But the Acres weren't satisfied with just that. Wheels of progress were constantly turning over in their creative minds, progress for the coming year. The 75 show had barely gotten over with before they were out there working away again. This time digging out the foundation for the remainder of the 40' by 80' floor for the balance of the new building which would shelter this new show-piece and several other antique items. Along with this, steel bulk-heads from Government grain bins, donated by the Smolik Brothers of Osage, Iowa, were being processed to be used as side walls for the building. New rafters, 40' long, were purchased and spaced 8' apart with cross-rafters nailed in between. A new galvanized roof was installed and the men worked almost up to cold weather to enclose the building and make it winter-proof. Due to the engine being worn considerably, a new set of piston rings were cast and machined and put on the piston. The cylinder bore was honed to bring it back round and straight. We feel this will require about 50 H.P. less boiler capacity as we were leaking a very large amount of steam passed the piston. Other than this, the engine runs very quiet, all valving working OK.

Continuing into 1976 with this project, there are plans for a porch, about 10' by 40', attached to its Western front. Also, they hope to find a stationary boiler suitable for handling the Corliss Engine. This will be installed outside the building, steam lines will be run from engine to the boiler, and insulation around lines and evaporation cylinder will be used to conserve more steam. These guys are one determined bunch!

Another new project the Acres displayed in '75 was tractor pulls. It was decided at a business meeting that the Acres would stage tractor pulls, both during their Showtime and also a few days during the summer months. They graded up a track, 50' by 320', hauled in 170 tons of clay mixed with fine limestone, and graded and rolled this into a firm bed.

Poles were set on both sides of track, electricity wired down from the main grounds, and lighting installed for night pulls. Also, the track was wired for sound, which is necessary for tractor pulls. Mr. Dale Hansen, from the Waterloo KWWL radio station, MC'd our pulls; Becker & Stevenson, grain dealers, furnished the pull-back tractor; and many of our members were kept busy measuring, etc. This entailed a lot of work on the part of a lot of people, but in the end paid off rather handsomely, plus being a lot of fun. Those hot-rod tractors are something else, but we even drew a round of applause when a couple of our steam engines got out there and gave it a go. We didn't finish in the money, but the crowd enjoyed the comparison just the same. We're looking forward to having them again in 76.

Along with all of this, 30 acres of oats and 30 acres of corn were planted. But due to the lack of rain in July and August, along with our light soil, our corn crop was rather a dismal failure. We are debating the possibility of all small grain, rather than corn, for 1976. Also, during these busy summer months, there was the cutting and shocking of oats, threshing off some of the surplus, and storing some on hay racks for Showtime.

Threshing during Showtime is always a crowd-pleaser. This year the rigs used were A. J. Fischels & Sons' 18 H.P. Woods Brothers Steam Engine and Hummingbird Thresher, a complete Iowa product; and Alfred Lindeman's Case Thresher with a slat stacker.

Another interesting feature of our show was the saw mill, owned by J.S. Fenton, and powered by Shelby and Dean Bellingers' 20 H.P. Rumely Steam Engine, and the Smolik Bros. 22 H.P. Rumely Steam Engine, engineered by Jack Fritchard. Also, along this line, was Clifford Johnston, Vice-Pres., with his regular size shingle saw; and our good friend and helper, Art Robinson, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with his 1/4 size shingle saw. The boys were kept busy sawing the souvenir cedar shingles. Art also brought along his 1 3/4' scale model of one of the first John Deere Power Balers and a 1 3/4' scale model of a Canadian Standard Gas Engine. He constructed all three of these. Art is always a great help during the show and you can usually find his wife lending a hand at the Acres' Souvenir booth.

During the summer months, it's not unusual to hear the buzzing tune of Andrew Fischels saw mill. It is usually powered by the Fischels' Wood Bros. Steam engine, engineer, John Sundermyer. The lumber is usually walnut or cherry, for various hobbiests.

The Acres was alive with action this summer as everyone tried to outdo the other with the paint brush. Our baby of the family, a 6 H.P. Russell Steam Engine owned by Mrs. Alfred Lindeman, sported a new set of colors; and the Smolik Bros. 140 H.P. Reeves received freshly painted lettering. These two engines enable us to boast of having the smallest and the largest engines left that we know of to be in operating condition today. The Russell led off our daily parades and was also featured at our Cattle Congress exhibit this last fall in Waterloo, Iowa. The Reeves is always an eye-full and especially when it hooks up to the newly painted 14 bottom John Deere plow of the Smolik Bros. for their daily plowing exhibition during the show. They also put this giant on the proney brake and you should have been there, she performs like the lady that she is. Mr. & Mrs. Lindeman also did a fine job painting their Case Thresher, though I wondered at the time just who was painting who. But that is what it takes--hard work and determination. Mr. Lindeman also exhibited two new items this year, a 12-25 Waterloo Boy, and an 18-36 Hart Parr. Both had been completely restored. Mr. & Mrs. Larry Cross and their two daughters put in many hours with the brush on their General tractor they restored last year. Mr. & Mrs. Richard Whitt did a great job on A.J.Fischels' (Mr. Whitt's grandfather) 15-30 Hart Parr that is a 1919 model. They also have a little gem of their own they are restoring for the 76 show. It's a 4 cylinder 1918 Moline Universal. This gives us a complete line of Molines, most of others belonging to Harold Pries. Marv. Lonergan to Harold Pries. Marv Lonergan spruced up his 2 cycle propane gas engine with paint and had it on display. He also added a Case Tractor and a Model H John Deere to the line-up. I know I haven't begun to cover all the items, as they were given a lick here and a swipe there, but I know we sure had a 'colorful' parade each day of the show.

I think about the only thing that wasn't restored and repainted was Mr. Everette Hildebrand's five Belgium horses. This is their second year with us and they really fit right in. Besides being in the daily parades, giving rides to kids (of all ages), and hauling wagon loads of bundles to the threshers, they are also in on the plowing exhibition, three on sulky plow and five on the gang plow. And this year the Acres even built a horse barn for their convenience and comfort. It is 12' by 40', five stall, pole building with a galvanized siding, and one side and roof open to the East. It also comes in handy for storage during the winter months.

With the exception of sand rather than sawdust, the show days seem like one huge carnival as calliope music rolls out of the many speakers. John Ruth and Clair Bohan were in charge of the PA system this year and did a great job. Shelby Bellinger was our MC during the parades, his assistant, Patty Cross. Our parades are different each year as new items are brought in. But, it's always a treat to see those that have been around for awhile, too. To mention just a few: John Sundermeyers' Minneapolis Farm Motor; the Smolik Bros.' Phoenix Logger; about any make of tractor made, belongs to various members; Roy Harper's 'homemade' tractor, with a Buick motor and Massey rear axle; over a dozen steam engines, belonging to variour members; a 30 H.P. Townsend tractor owned by A. J. Fischels and John Sundermeyer; numerous oil pulls owned by J.S. Fenton; and water-wagons, threshers, and various antique cars. Two of the newly restored ones are: Don Gibbons' 1927 Buick; and Firmin Rottinghaus' Fordson.

Other attractions during the show are: the old time Blacksmith Shop, literally bursting at the seams with intriguing items and will have in its collection in 76 a cold cut steel shear, a tire shrinker, a power hammer, all belonging to A.J. Fischels' father who used them in his own blacksmith shop in 1915; the ever-growing collection of gas engines, most of which are owned by various members; two buildings chock full of antique items, novelties, and about anything imaginable for sale. These exhibitors are from various states and they offer a great selection for the flea market; numerous concessions around the grounds, along with the Kentucky Fried Chicken tent; and a very busy performance of the engines and tractors on the prony brake and baker fan.

There are also hundreds of other antiques on display, such as, 100 year old wooden wheel corn planters, washing machines, cream separators, and many others, too numerous to mention. Due to our building program, many of these items will be on museum display in 1976 from May 1st to September 1st. Some construction will be going on during this period, because this is one way to get them under the roof and make them readily available to most people. We have already had many comments on our exhibits from people all over the U.S. and Canada; and we have really not been in a position to properly display these items, as we can now with our new buildings. We extend our thanks and appreciation for the kindness of these many visitors who stop to see us as we are developing this lay-out.

One of the busiest places around is the Antique Acres' Souvenir Booth. There you can find just about any book on tractors, farm machinery, antique cars, cookbooks, gas engines, steam engines, subscriptions to Iron-Man Album, Engineers & Engines, and Stump-town Steamer, and new additions yearly. They also offer a wide selection of jewelry, hand-made items, and novelties. The people can't seem to get enough of these, as they really sold up a storm all summer long, during the show, at the Cattle Congress, and even through the winter months. Our watch-fob collection and belt buckles are a big seller, also. For information on these items, you may contact Mrs. Harold Pries, Bremer, Iowa. We are hoping to build a new and bigger souvenir booth this coming summer.

It's been one busy year and it looks like this one is following the same pattern. Besides all of these events already mentioned, there are also negotiations going on in hopes of the Bicentennial celebration out here at the Acres.

We wish to extend our thanks to the many friends who bless our camp-grounds for their help and encouragement; and to our out-of-state members who give it their all during show time, the Krugers from Missouri and the Fischels from New Jersey.

It seems good to be able to say, 'Only about five more weeks and the Acres will be arousing from its winter hibernation.' So, remember, the welcome mat is always out.