Old Masters New Masters

Nichols and Shepard engine

20-70 Nichols and Shepard engine belonging to Don and Margaret Blecha of Wichita, Kansas.

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The following is an account of the 6th annual Ternings Steam and Gas Engine Show. This show is held annually over the Labor Day weekend in Valley Center, Kansas. Valley Center is located just 500 miles southwest of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, about 700 miles south of Rollag, Minnesota, and 12 miles Northwest of Wichita, Kansas.

One could not exactly put a finger on it but there seemed to be something distinctly different about this particular show compared to all the others. At first glance, the total overall appearance did not seem to be that much different from the shows of past years. This year there were 19 full sized steam traction engines scattered around the grounds with their 'old masters' at the throttle. The Case wooden incline was standing in the middle of the grounds looking as ominous as ever just waiting for its next challenger. The wheat stack located at the east end of the ground was considerably larger than that of other years just ask Gary or Quentin Base, Joe Harper, Butch Olson, and countless others and they will testify to the truth of that statement. We heard that the town of Valley Center sold out of Ben Gay that particular weekend!!! The gas engines had their own little corner of the grounds and were putt-putting away at their own speed. All of the craft and concession stands and the grist mill were busy selling their wares.

A more detailed, in depth look seemed in order to give us the answers we were seeking. Just what was different about this show?

As was state done could readily see the 'old masters' at the controls. Every show in the world has people who qualify for the coveted title of 'masters of the throttle'. But the difference with the old masters at this show was that they were giving much sought after advice to the younger generation. By advice we mean much more than giving the order to bring more water or coal. They fully realized that there is no way in the world these young people could go to the local library and check out a book and learn how to properly operate these engines. One must have hands on experience and the old masters must be present to offer advice. For many months prior to the show the young people were expected to be around to receive proper instruction if they were to be allowed to be an assistant or be in control of an engine during the show. The engineers both young and old were issued operator's licenses only after they demonstrated their skills with a particular engine.

Out to the south field went the 50 HP Case with Doug Base and Aaron Terning at the controls. On the eight bottom plow stood Dan Base, Frank Harper, and David Hutcherson. Perhaps you are thinking that this is not such a noteworthy statement. However, when one considers that the ages of all involved ranged from 12 to 16we do think that is noteworthy. There were several fathers seen here and there in the crowd, just in case a bit of advice was needed. As Jim Thomas of Graford, Texas soon announced, these young people needed no advice or assistance. They full well knew just what to do and when to do it. They maneuvered this unit so smoothly many surely thought there must be an old master hiding somewhere. Before the show was over there were many people in agreement to the fact that these boys were the 'youngest old masters' they had seen.

The youngest engineer was Scott Burkhardt. He and younger brother Seth, were seen going round and round the show on a half-scale Case 65 model steam engine. Every few minutes Seth could be seen heading towards the funnel cake wagon it soon made one wonder if they were fueling their engine with funnel cakes!! One look at Seth's tummy and one knew that the engine was not devouring them. Scott appeared as cool as a cucumber and in control. His mother was busy giving guided tours of the show and did not have much time to worry. The rumor was that she was just a tiny bit nervous. Scott's father was busy operating the new Huberbut did keep a watchful eye on his number one son.

David Hutcherson was also operating a half-scale model Case. His father, Dane, was keeping watch from the Aultman Taylor he was operating. His mother, Sue and sister, Christine, were also assisting with the show wherever needed. Several other half-scale model Case engineers were close at hand in case assistance was needed. They were Mr. Lorraine Peterson and his wife Nadine from Pawnee Rock, Kansas, Mahlon Giffin of Sedgwick, Kansas, Jim Hijek of Medford, Oklahoma, and Bill Koska and wife Lorraine who had ventured from St. Cloud, Minnesota to be at the show. Mr. O. A. Thomas and wife Dorothy from Farmington, Illinois, were displaying their almost completed quarter-scale Case model. A safe bet would be that next year this model will be in tip-top running condition. Ed and Dian Routh of Miaze, Kansas were busy on their quarter scale also. Bill Billings also with his brother Jack and his wife had their Rumely and Peerless models in fine condition.

The Ron Harris Family of Hutchinson spent many days during the summer months helping to prepare for the show. They also had several tractors on display.

Meanwhile, back at the wheat mountain serious thought was being given as to the most efficient method of converting the stack into wheat in the truck and bales of straw. All seemed to be in agreement and the call went out for Mr. 'Avery' Sullivan of Wichita, Kansas and his assistant Hardy Wunch of Goddard, Kansas to bring forth the mighty 120 Avery. At the same time a call went out for Quentin Base to bring forth his beautifully restored Yellow Fellow separator. There were many pieces of equipment at this show that were real 'show stoppers'. This Yellow Fellow was certainly one which many people just stood and gazed at. This had been a winter project for the family even Quentin's wife Vivian got in on the action. She was responsible for all the lettering. When this team grew weary the Joe Harper family of Sedgwick, Kansas pulled two other real show stoppers into position. The 20 HP Russell steam engine and Nichols and Sheppard separator were a source of constant picture taking. Joe had acquired this engine in late December of 1982. It was truly difficult to understand just how such a transformation could have taken place in such a short time. The before and after results were truly amazing.

Much of the equipment at this show was owned, restored, and operated by many younger people. In fact there were three more separators. One of the owners of a matched pair of tractor and separator was Dan Base. His was a C Case and a 1948 22 x 36 Case separator. Brother Doug Base is the proud owner of a 1948 John Deere 'D' and a 28' John Deere separator. Frank Harper owns a 1937 W-30 and a 1931 McCormick Deering separator. A love of this type of equipment and the desire to keep alive a part of history was very evident in the pride of ownership displayed by these young people.

Dave Sebits of Hesston had his two sons with him as he operated his 30 HP Case. They are dad's constant companions and do know much about the operation of the equipment.

This show is definitely not a show where the husband comes and the wife stays at home. The great many husband and wife teams that have been mentioned already attest to this fact. Several more we saw in the gas engine department were Fred and Maxine Collins of Chanute, Kansas, and Artie and Sally Middendorf of Humboldt, Kansas. There is never a dull moment in the gas engine department with these four around. Artie and Sally had their grandson Miles with them for the first time. They were doing their best to acquaint him with every aspect of the show. He also provided some entertainment during the evening, which was most enjoyable.

The James Leake family of Muskogee, Oklahoma had much equipment at the show again this year. A big thank-you goes out to them for this.

John and Florence Forney of Bellwood, Nebraska came down to operate some of the equipment. Some of their children also came. As it turned out, it was their wedding anniversary and they made the mistake of telling someone. So along about midnight there was a shivaree for those who could stay awake that is. But they will not soon forget it but took it all in good fun. Rumor was that they did not bother to change into their sleeping clothes the rest of the time just in case!!

Don and Margaret Blecha of Wichita, Kansas not only had their 20-70 Nichols and Sheppard engine but were also displaying their 16 HP Port Huron. This was a very special time for this entire family as Uncle Frank and Aunt Vi had come from Loveland, Colorado to assist with the Nichols and Sheppard. Uncle Frank had operated this very engine about 50 years ago in Northern Kansas. The engine was 'left to die' so to speak until Don rescued it several years ago from this fate and restored it. It was a real joy to see this engine family together once again.

The Case wooden incline saw a new challenger this year. The previous year had seen Tom Terning climb this ramp solo. This year his 12 year old son, Aaron, was with him on one of the climbs. This seems to be an event that one marvels at no matter how often one may have seen it. Joe Mitchum again expertly kept the 40 HP Case in exact readiness for the climb.

There were several very young participants at the show this year. Two of Jack Johnson's grandchildren were still babes in arms. But they were there with grandpa and of course mom and dad to take it all in. One other grandchild was a bit older and his position was clear as he proudly rode around in his shiny red wagon being pulled by grandpa or dad or anyone he could catch a ride with. The Advance model engine seems to be the Johnson favorite. Another family with their grandson was Larry and Ella Hedrick with their Advance-Rumely model. Whenever

Tyson can go somewhere with grandpa and his engine, he is right on top of the world. Larry's son Dan, is also at ease with most any engine he may encounter. These two families of fine model enthusiasts are both from Arkansas City, Kansas.

An attraction which drew much attention were the horses. John Hoogoboom of El Dorado, Kansas, was present each day with his fine team and his stagecoach to offer rides. Bruce Cowan and son Tom had their beautiful team of Belgians for people to admire. They pulled the canon and casson each day for the flag raising event. Harold Tonn and Winston Summer felt also brought their teams. It took two teams to maneuver a new piece of equipment that was acquired this past summer. It is called a header-barge. There are very few left across the country and very few in the condition this particular one is in. It took a short while to acquaint the teams with the header but once they had a trial run they did beautifully.

The Elmer Schragg family of Goessel, Kansas had their homemade ice cream factory in full operation. They had acquired some new equipment and were better able to keep up with the constant demand during the heat of the day.

When one combines mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, grandchildren, and many, many fine friends, the result is a magnificent family show. There is something here for everyone to take part in. This was the feeling one had upon leaving the show grounds and this seemed to be that 'something' that was hard to put a finger on in the beginning.

So we encourage you to plan your 1984 Labor Day weekend to include the 7th annual Terming Steam and Gas Engine Show. It is a fun filled and friendly event you will not want to miss.