Rough and Tumble's Christmas

Otto Langen engine

Otto Langen engine forerunner of all spark-ignition engines: ton for HP.

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308 E. Derry Road Hershey, Pennsylvania 17033

Christmas 1988 came early to the agricultural heritage museum on Route 30 in Lancaster County, at Kinzers, Pennsylvania, known as Rough and Tumble. The gifts came in the form of an inheritance from the private estate and museum of William Willock of Chestertown, Maryland.

Notified of their gifts earlier this year, the curator committee of Rough and Tumble was amazed to find that they totaled thousands of pieces. When an evaluation was placed on these one-of-a-kind artifacts that figure was estimated to total nearly half a million dollars.

Not everything has been moved, but hundreds of volunteer man-hours have gone into bringing 60 steam engines, over 30 early gas engines, numerous gas and carbide lamps, water and gas-powered pumps, early household appliances, a collection of wood and coal-burning stoves, turn-of-the-century office furniture, early telephones and vehicles to Rough and Tumble.

The vehicles include six cars made before World War I. There is a 1904 curved-dash Oldsmobile, a 1911 Ford touring car, a 1908 Sears Model H, a four-cylinder 1913 White, a 1910 Maxwell and a 1906 Stanley Steamer. Because Rough and Tumble does not currently have a climate controlled building on its grounds, these six cars are at present on display at the Antique Automobile Club of America library building in Hershey, Pennsylvania, which is open to the public weekdays.

A rare 1924 Day Elder stake body truck was taken to Rough and Tumble to await restoration. It had not received the ground-up restoration the cars had had back in the 1950's. The restorations were very well done for their time, for the White touring car bears a plaque stating that it and its then owner completed a Gliddon tour from Long Island to California and back in the early 1970's.

The steam-powered engines range in size from a road rollerand a steam-powered cement mixer! down to a handful of working models which could fit on a shelf. William Willock was a man whose philosophy matched that held at Rough and Tumble. He wanted his mechanical artifacts to workand most of them had been restored to working condition by Willock himself, including a mid-sized stationary steam engine which he made by assembling a working one from parts of many others.

There are two examples of steam-powered 'walking beam' engines. The largest one was built about 1850 and ran for 50 consecutive years in the service of a New Jersey utility company. The engine was then donated to Stevens Institute where is was used as a classroom model for a number of years before finally being sold to a collector. In a 'walking beam' engine the piston rod rocks up and down. The rod is connected to a crank which turns a flywheel which in turn drives a pulley. When in use there is a graceful, mesmerizing movement to a walking beam engine which makes it a pleasure to watch.

A historic early gas engine was part of the Willock collection to come to Rough and Tumble. This is an Otto Langen engine, one of only three known to be still in existence, and the only one which runs. There is a similar engine on exhibit at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. but theirs is inoperable. This engine is the granddaddy of all internal combustion engines those using a spark ignition. Engine people will be interested to know that this model which weighs close to half a ton was capable of producing about HP. Built about 1870, before gasoline, the engine ran on coal oil. It was used to pump water.

The Willock collection featured many early attempts by inventors to make life easier or to move or power something better. An interesting example of this is a floor model fan now sitting in the corner of the meeting room at Rough and Tumble. A floor fan may not be much to get excited about, yet this one precedes electricity. It is kerosene-powered.

Rough and Tumble's new gifts once filled more than two buildings at the William Willock estate, and the immediate need to find a place to safely store and display their newly acquired artifacts has given the directors at Rough and Tumble some sleepless nights. The buildings on Rough and Tumble's grounds were already full to overflowing. A modest cash gift from the Willock estate has been put aside for eventual use in building a suitable museum building for portions of the Willock bequest. In the meantime, Rough and Tumble members are moving, tagging, and admiring their newly acquired artifacts and planning on how they can best display them when Rough and Tumble reopens its doors in the spring of 1989.