Let's get one thing abundantly clear at the outset I have fired and ran traction engines to my satisfaction but I have also stepped down to watch my father move around barn lots or set on a graded barn driveway. No one ever said of me as I have of him, 'I'd as soon watch him as to watch a Fairground Demonstration.'
Have you ever considered what a force for honesty in advertising were the Montgomery Ward and Sears Robuck catalogs? The article had to be as described or your money was there waiting for you. In machinery catalogs, by contrast, the sky was the limit. The machine offered was perfection itself and when you got it home, brother, it was yours. Only by field tests and demonstrations could a man hope to determine what he could expect of a machine.
Two things were accomplished in a good demonstration. One; interest could be aroused by proving how easily and surely a good machine could be put through its paces. Two; A competitor could be 'shown up.'
I thought of these points as I listened to Mr. Ira Young of Amanada, Ohio in the fall of 1950. Mr. Young had 7 threshing rigs in operation for years, has sold Case machinery and has demonstrated Case engines on 'Incline.' There on a plank surface pitched about like a barn roof the engine was made to climb, hold, descend part way and climb again always under good control. When you got through swallowing your heart you had witnessed adequate power, good clutch action, ample strength in every part and you realized that somewhere the demonstrator had run an engine before.
An excellent demonstration was made of the 2 cylinder Hart Paar tractor, prior to 1930, when they made it hoist itself vertically by means of steel cables around all four wheels and secured to a steel enclosing framework. The demonstrator rode up with the tractor, held it by means of the pulley brake and could reverse the travel up and down by means of the clutch lever alone. You would not be surprised after witnessing that demonstration to know that the 1224 Hart Paar would, on occasion, pull itself over the wheel chocks by a good load on the belt.
Newark, Ohio has produced three traction engines - the McNamar, Scheidler and Walker. Demonstrations at the Licking County Fair were, therefore, a lively affair and will, perhaps, repay the telling.
One of the above engines was being demonstrated at the Fair by causing it to hoist and control an iron basket of castings rigged by means of a pulley attached to a stout oak limb. It is reported that the basket was made to weigh several tons. In the course of events a sizable wager was arranged that a competing engine would try to hoist the basket. This engine with mud hooks attached and with the son of the builder at the throttle hooked on to the chain. As were his instructions, the boy never looked back after he got under way nor did he pause at the end of the travel. His engine took the basket aloft, broke the pulley fastenings and and dragged chain, basket and contents over to his own show space leaving his father to collect the bet and settle the damage.
It should be recorded that Mr. Scheidler built and ran a road engine geared for considerable speed. For years he offered to race any contender and since none appeared he would race his engine alone around the dirt track for the entertainment of the crowd.
It may very well be true as that Grand Old Machine Man, Bascom B. Clark, used to claim That paint has sold more machinery than engineering. It may also be true, as I have suggested, that the catalog claims had to be taken with a grain of salt. It is common experience that, even with out faith, a man will believe what his eyes behold and many a man has spent sleepless nights after a good 'field demonstration' until he could get one of those wonderful engines out on his farm.