Terning's Power Show

Horse-drawn steam pumper


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Palisades, NY 10964

Mr. F. 'Avery' Sullivan, in cab, prepares to operate the largest of the Avery steam traction engines (120 HP). (Photo was taken at Terning's Steam and Gas Engine Show 1986, by Thomas C. Wilfred.)

For the 1986 Labor Day weekend, I travelled west to enjoy three eventful days at Terning's 9th Annual Steam and Gas Engine Show in Valley Center, Kansas, close to Wichita.

On entering the show grounds, I was attracted by a great geyser of water from a fire hose attached to an 1898 horse-drawn steam pumper of the Wichita Fire Department (photo #1), which Tom Terning helped restore to operating condition. A nearby column of smoke marked the location of a large skid-mounted Worthington steam air compressor powered by a vertical fire tube boiler.

Among the many steam traction engines exhibited was an unusual 14 HP Aultman Taylor return flue straw burner with a side shaft (shown in photo #2) and bevel-gear (shown in photo #3) drive, built around 1905, and belonging to James Leake of Oklahoma. Close by was a beautifully restored 65 HP Case engine of 1914, finished with authentic colors, lettering and logos, owned by Jack Wilkerson of Pittsburg, Kansas. A colorful 1915 Russell 25-75 HP engine, complete with canopy and matching water wagon, was exhibited by Joe Harper of Sedgwick, Kansas, who also brought an Advance Rumely Oil Pull tractor.

There were many oil and gas tractors. Quentin Base of Sedgwick exhibited three beauties. Two were IHC Moguls, a 16 HP of 1916 and a 45 HP of 1912, and the third a 50 HP Avery of 1925. Gary Base showed a 60 HP Aultman Taylor of 1924. There were a couple of dozen smaller gas tractors.

A trailer-mounted Rider Ericsson hot air engine powered a water pump with an 8-inch bore near a large assortment of antique motorcycles, including a 1931 Indian in showroom condition.

Machinery to be powered by the assembled engines included two large threshers, a corn sheller, a Baker fan and a sawmill. In photo #4, Mr. Terning is sawing a cedar log from a tree planted by a Civil War veteran. The boards will be used to build a cedar chest.

Of interest to the ladies was a whole pioneer village with log cabins and tepees occupied by families dressed in authentic clothing and cooking over open fires with the utensils of that era. A flea market and handicraft dealers provided shopping opportunities.

In addition to a collection of gas engines hitting and missing, there were quite a few model steam and gas tractors ranging from quarter to half scale. My favorite was Mahlon Giffin's half scale 65 HP steamer (photo #5). It was built from the blue prints, boiler and castings that Tom Terning has made available to those who would like to build their own engine. Tom also machines large castings for those without such equipment.

A 30 inch gauge steam locomotive with four large gondola cars (in background of photo #5), all built by Mr. Terning, circled the grounds to provide the passengers with good views of the show. A stage coach transported visitors through the exhibit area.

The most exciting event was young Joe Mitchum of Sedgwick climbing the only true replica of the original Case steam traction engine demonstration ramp with a 40 HP Case engine. In photo #6, show host Terning (holding microphone) explains the danger involved as the rear wheels of the engine start down the ramp and the great weight of the boiler water is thrust against the rear of the boiler.

The biggest machine in this unusual show was Terning's 24 ton 120 HP Avery undermount steam traction engine, with two 7 by 10 inch cylinders, built in 1912. It was skillfully operated by 81-year old Mr. F. 'Avery' Sullivan.

Ultra light airplanes from an adjacent field circled overhead, as radio-controlled gas model planes performed acrobatics at one corner of the show grounds. The Kansas National Guard displayed current military vehicular equipment, and the Military Collectors Club provided some models dating back to World War II.

All you steam and gas engine fans will find a visit to Terning's Show to be a rewarding experience.