Northwestern Pennsylvania Steam Engine

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R. D. 1, Box 149 A, Ellwood City, Pennsylvania 16117

The Northwestern Pennsylvania Steam Engine and Old Equipment Association held their annual show for 1977 at the show grounds in Portersville, Pennsylvania in August. Again, several new improvements were in evidence on the grounds for this, the third show at the club's own park. For the first time the show was expanded to four days, Thrusday through Sunday. The fourth day was an effort to escape bad weather which had disrupted much of the 76 show activities, and sure enough the rains rolled in on Saturday and Sunday and caused lots of mud, especially in the parking lot at the north end of the grounds. We seemed to have learned a lesson that other shows might be interested in and would be very interested in comparing notes with any other groups having similar experience. Two of the improvements were a greatly expanded eating shelter attached to the cookhouse and a barn with attached shed for the housing and display of animals. These along with the picnic shelters, main display barn and sales stand with its awnings, greatly expanded our ability to shelter people from the showers which were on and off Saturday afternoon. Our helpers all remarked afterwards that every shower brought a rush of business. This was obviously good for the business ledger and it also held the crowd by giving them something to do till the rain stopped and they could move out to other displays. Perhaps with sustained rain the effect would have been different, but with intermittent showers we met a surprising degree of success, as people took their chances.

Among other improvements were a gate with improved visibility which was incorporated with a beautiful white picket fence down both sides of the driveway. Harold Bupp engineered this project along with the barn and food shelter and most of the help was provided by Bill Henry and Bud Beiber. The paint was applied by the faithful crew of Lilliam Bupp and Carrie Henry, aided by Mary Badger, now the wife of the vice president, Tom Downing. The railroad was greatly improved in appearance and useability with the brickwork started on a platform-loading over the original beginnings. The railroad crew was headed again by Chuck Burr and Al Bupp with other help as needed (but never quite enough). With most of the rest of the grounds developed rather well, the finish, grading, and seeding of that area in the lower end will soon be getting its share of attention and may well be the most picturesque picnic site on the grounds with the trestle and railroad.

The threshing site was moved down into the shady northwest end this year and worked out quite well in spite of the weather. Bill Reynolds horse baler made quite a hit, even operated by a mule. A team of beautiful (yeah, I think so) young and well trained mules were among the first occupants of the new barn provided by Abe Mengel. The weather apparently prevented a better showing of draft animals which add so much to the show.

The food service provided by the Portersville-Muddy Creek Firemen and Ladies was better than ever and the threshermen's dinner was expanded to two evenings, Friday and Saturday.

The gas engine area was well visited again under the leadership of Paul Boehm and friends. One hundred and fifty-eight engines were registered from as far away as Glenville, West Virginia, a lot from Ohio and Pennsylvania. Small engines ranged from the Maytags at less than 1 horspower, to the 14 horse 'Ball' oil well engine, the 25 HP 'Reid' and the 18 horse upright 'Cook' from the 'Cyclone Driller.' The Cook was limbered up this year to the extent of running on two explosions per minute 30 seconds of coasting between. Is that some sort of record, fellows?

The tractor display was organized partly by make this year by our Fordson man, Don Martin of Butler. The front row had seven or eight Fordsons all different, including a mounted mower, mounted plows, an industrial model. Parading was planned, but it was stopped by the weather, as cleats would be bad for the soggy turf.

The Model Table was well handled by Mark Williams and his friends this year with some help by Tom Henry on the hooking up. Other steam equipment of the stationary type was run by Bob Kearns and his Eclipse return flue boiler. Bob also helped some on the portables which power the sawmill and shingle mill. I was having some trouble keeping the 'Orr and Sembower' hot on the shingle saw when Bob showed up and took over firing while I was on top with the throttle. In ten minutes or less, the old engine was going full tilt, the injector was on and the pop valve was up, all at the same time. I didn't think it would do all that at once, but a good fireman does make a difference.

Our indoor display was well handled again by Bob Bodescheim and his helpers and was, in the wet weather, a great attention getter. Features this year were music by Bill Reynolds' Player Piano and on Sunday, by a band organ displayed by Jake Debence from the Music Museum in Franklin, Pennsylvania. The Harmony Museum provided spinning and weaving crafts and the potter, Rob Szakelyhidi, demonstrated several times each day. The flea markets, as well as the womens' craft booth, provided bargains and goodies even though many of the flea market vendors were not prepared for the bad weather and left early when showers came.

All in all, a good year was recorded. The grounds held up very well and the bills are paid and we are looking forward to a better year in 1978. Come see us on May 19, 20, and 21 for the free 'Spring Gas UP,' and August 3, 4, 5, and 6 for the Summer Steam Engine Show. Just a note on directions. For reasons only politicians know the Interchange Numbers on Interstate 79 are changed AGAIN. At first and now again they are numbered in sequence, ours being #28 at Portersville (Route 488-thank heaven that is still the same) and #29 at U.S. Route 422, just about three miles north. For the past two years they were numbered by mileage as #96 and #99, so if you follow directions on an obsolete poster or card, you will have to be sharp or you may find yourself in Erie, Buffalo or West (by gum) Virginia.