We're hardly out of the woods yet, but it's gratifying to realize the dark days of winter will soon be behind us.
Winter, at least here in the Midwest, presents serious challenges to steam engine owners, limiting many owners' ability to keep on top of equipment maintenance for the coming season.
And the coming season is certainly reason for optimism, as we all look forward to another round of shows across the country. The steam show season is our chance to educate, inform, and entertain — not only ourselves and each other, but new attendees previously unaware of the glory days of steam and agriculture, but lucky enough to take in one of the hundreds of shows scheduled across the country.
The 2005 season should also present more than a few opportunities for many of us to witness some of "Steam Engine Joe" Rynda's old engines at play. Since the May 2004 auction of Rynda's engines, at least six of his engines are back in the fold, and most of those will be up and operating at various shows as the new season progresses.
We've shared a few of those engines with you already, and a few more are waiting in the wings, engines we'll feature in coming issues of Steam Traction.
This issue we're lucky to feature a fabulous assortment of old iron, ranging from Wayne Murphy's recently acquired Farquhar Ajax portable engine to Dean Fischer's recently restored 1904 Case compound. Wayne's Ajax was literally cut free from an encroaching forest and the engine promises to be a challenging restoration — Wayne's looking to Steam Traction readers for information to aid him in his campaign to get the engine back to running condition.
Dean's Case, which was restored by David Long, has a long history on the West Coast, and with its future secured it's set to continue making history for generations to come.
We also have some artwork from the glory days of steam: spectacular watercolor farm paintings commissioned by Aultman & Taylor Co. to advertise its products. The article notes our lack of information on the specific pieces shown, and we'd love to hear from any reader who might be able to round out our knowledge on Aultman & Taylor's colorful advertising campaigns.
The page stopper for me, however, is the photograph regular contributor Bruce Babcock discovered at a flea market. It's a poignant reminder of our past and our present — a magical image that perfectly conveys our attachment to steam.