One Cool Display for Antique Engine Shows

Engine-cranked ice cream a hit at antique engine shows

| June 2005

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    Below: Larry Flickinger, adding an essential component to the ice cream freezer.
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    Above: Sandra Flickinger and family friend Jim Gehringer, Leland, Ill., who restored her salesman’s sample ice cream freezer.Left: Larry and Sandra Flickinger’s vintage ice cream freezer, belted to an intermediate gear devised by Larry. Using what he calls “eighth grade math,” Larry computed the reduction for his ice cream operation. “I just like math,” he says modestly, “but I’m not a machinist.”
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    Right: Ice cream scoops and a salesman’s sample ice cream freezer from the Flickinger collection. “In the old days, scoops were called ‘dippers,’” Sandra says.
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    Left: The real McCoy: a De Laval cream separator on permanent display at the Old Threshers show. Decades ago, cream separators were used to separate cream from milk.Lower left: A model beautiful enough to make you forget about ice cream: This scale model cream separator was handcrafted by the late Edward Berry about 15 years ago. Displayed at last summer’s Old Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant by his son, David Berry, Clarence, Iowa, the piece is a legitimate work of art. “When my dad retired, he started building models,” David says. “This was a pretty early piece in his hobby. He just looked at a picture in the Sears catalog as a guide.”Right: Larry Flickinger’s P&O gas engine.

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Set up an old gas engine at a show, and you'll get a few lookers. Get it running and belt it up to a pump or a corn sheller, a few more folks stop by and take a gander. Use it to make ice cream and give away free samples, and it's "Katie, bar the door!"

Larry and Sandra Flickinger can tell you all about it. For the past two years, the couple has displayed a 1912 P&O gas engine at the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Several times each day, Larry fires up the engine, which is belted to a nearly 50-year-old freezer. As the mixture nears readiness, the crowd of onlookers swells. By the time Sandra removes the lid from the freezer can and begins to pull out the paddle, she holds the crowd in the palm of her hand.

"You see little kids come running when we open the freezer," Sandra says. "The most fun are the older people. They just watch, and reminisce … we hear lots of people's memories about making ice cream with their families. It just makes people happy."

Making ice cream at engine shows is no particular stretch for this couple who live, fittingly enough, at Sugar Grove, Ill. "I grew up on a farm and we always had homemade ice cream," Sandra recalls. "My granddad hand-milked 36 Brown Swiss dairy cows, and I can remember my mother making butter, and saving the cream for ice cream." Because homemade ice cream is a regular part of their summer routine at home, it was only natural for the two to take their show on the road.



It started with a new-in-the-box 1957 White Mountain ice cream freezer Larry found at a flea market. Next came the matter of converting gear ratios to his 1-1/2 hp P&O gas engine. "Remember that eighth grade math, and you never think you're going to use it?" Larry asks. "Well, you do.

"It was just a matter of ratio," he explains. "I just backed up to the engine rpm. It's either going to be 4-to-1 or 6-to-1, based on a ratio. I knew what the ending rpm was for the hand-crank freezer; it was about 40 rpm. The other 'given' was that the engine is about 350 rpm, so I reduced from there. The first reduction is 4-to-1; the second is 2-1/2-to-1."