A BAKER AND A BUFFALO-PITTS

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At Kendall, New York in 1962. Here the Baker is belted to a separator.

Reprinted with permission of New York Steam Engine
Association Bulletin, Board of Directors. Submitted by Watty Wood,
3510 Laurel Drive, Holiday, Florida 33590

It all started when I asked Bob Marshall if he would let me take
his twin cylinder 1912 Buffalo-Pitts out of the garage and get it
running. Bob had bought this 16 HP engine about five years before,
but he never found time to steam it up. Without question he said,
‘Go ahead.’ After a few minor repairs, finishing the cab,
some paint and a few ‘steam-ups’, things started to happen
for it seemed everyone wanted us in parades or at a fair.

The first event was a parade at the Penfield Sesquicentennial,
where probably the only time in recent years an engine was driven
in a town with lugs on. It was our first success with more to come.
After that, we went to the Monroe County Fair for five days, then
on to Hemlock for another four days ending up for the big show at
the New York State Fair in Syracuse.

For an engine that had been declared obsolete many years before
someone was wrong for the old Buffalo-Pitts had proven she had as
much ‘go in her’ as the day she was built.

During the winter of 1960-61 we restored the old big 1922 A.D.
Baker. This process included placing rubber on the wheels since we
planned to drive it on pavement. This engine is one of the most
powerful in the state developing 90 horsepower which is a lot for a
steam engine. 1961 found us swamped with calls wanting us to have
an engine in a parade. We started the season by going to Kendall,
New York on a Thursday afternoon. Bob and I worked up a little
steam, unloaded the Baker, and found ourselves in the middle of a
celebration which lasted several days. On Saturday, along with
Luzerne Ball and John Farrell, we steamed up and took part in the
parade pulling a thresher. We ended up in the Firemen’s Park
where we setup and threshed a load of barley for the delight of the
onlookers. That evening, when we were ready to load the engine, the
truck backed into a small ditch for easier loading and got stuck.
You guessed it! Luzerne Ball hooked the Baker on and pulled it out
with ease. An auto also backed into the same ditch at another point
and we pulled that out too. The people of Kendall were gracious and
hospitable and served us all a steak dinner like the old days.
We’ll always remember our trip to Kendall.

A short time later we were asked to bring the Baker over to a
celebration in Homer Prudom’s hometown of Fairport. I’m
sure it was a great day for Homer since he had just come home from
the hospital the day before. The parade was a long one with a large
crowd. On this occasion Homer Jr. joined me and we ended up with a
good old fashioned ham dinner. I might say that just about
everywhere we took the engine our hosts would inevitably give us a
large dinner maybe we reminded them of the old days when they used
to feed the threshers!

Our next stop that year was at Gates near Rochester where Al
Turner volunteered to haul the engine to his home on Elmgrove Road.
On Saturday morning Ed Faulkner and I steamed up and drove the old
engine to the corner of Lyell and Howard Road the starting point.
From here we paraded to the Gates Shopping Center on Chili Avenue.
This turned out to be the longest parade we’ve ever been in, in
fact, some of the marchers pulled out and didn’t go all the
way. It was no problem to the Baker and we received standing
applause all the way and ended up winning a trophy which we
promptly took back to East Bloomfield Headquarters and placed on
the trophy shelf!

Mr. Turner brought his trailer in to the parking lot and there I
loaded the engine to an audience of over a thousand on-lookers.
Maybe not much of a feat, but a thrill to me.

On another occasion Harold Synder, Homer Prudom and I journed to
Bethany Center. This little town was formerly the home of Dayton
Nichol’s father who was the local thresher many years ago. The
parade was short but we had an enthusiastic crowd and you guessed
it we were treated a delicious chicken barbecue! For old time’s
sake, we belted the Baker to the threshing machine that once
belonged to Dayton’s father. What a thrill for the local crowd
after 40 years.

By now the old Baker and Buffalo-Pitts were rapidly becoming one
of the most sought after parade exhibits in this part of the state.
On one Saturday, Harold Synder and I drove the Baker to Lima, New
York. The parade was not long, but there was a large crowd on hand.
On this occasion our hosts treated us to an ox roast and ended up
by giving us another trophy for the shelf! The following week
Luzerne Ball and I drove the engine back home along Route 5 &
20distance of about 12 miles. It was a beautiful day and many times
tourists stopped and took pictures as we lumbered along at 5 miles
per hour.

In the following two years we made in-numerable trips and
participated in many events. I remember the time Phil Rowley joined
me and we took the Baker to Naples for the Grape Festivalan 8 hour
trip. Leaving East Bloomfield, we journeyed south down through the
valley to Bristol Springs. Here we took the high road to Naples.
When we arrived at the big hill just this side of Naples, we
unhitched our tank wagon, turned the engine around and hooked the
tank on the front. In this manner we slowly backed all the way down
the hill a distance of about one mile.

Because of the large crowd it was felt advisable to have three
run the engine. Clarence Rounds was the fireman, Harold Snyder
steering, and I was at the throttle. I might mention that our tank
wagon was well loaded with N.Y. S.E.A. members.

After the parade, we were joined by Bob Marshall, Lester Norris,
Ray Alexander, Ken McCormack, Clarence Rounds and wives and went
over to the Redwood Inn for dinner. Although a good dinnerit
couldn’t compare with the home-cooked ones! It was another all
day trip returning the engine to East Bloomfield one which by car
would take only 30 minutes. Harold Snyder volunteered to accompany
me so the trip wasn’t too bad.

At East Bethany, New York the author is in the center and Harold
Snyder and Homer Prudom St., at right. Gentlemen at left are local
citizens.

When the distance is too great or the engine isn’t equipped
with rubber a flatbed trailer is used. Here we are moving a Case
from Honeoye Falls to East Bloomfield.

As one gets older one becomes more sentimental and I suppose I
could go on telling about other trips with the old steam traction
engines such as trips to Canadaigua with Ed Faulkner, Harold Snyder
or John Farrell, but I had better stop and tell about the one I
remember most the one to Bergenmy home town. To me this was the
best event of all.

It is hard to describe the thrill of driving an engine down the
same street that my father was a thresher and this was his home.
Here and there I could recognize an old house and other familiar
landmarks. It was an opportunity to meet old friends (and there are
not too many left) as well as several I went to school with. It was
like living all over again.

Phil Rowley and I took in two parades, one at 2 P.M. and another
at 7 P.M. It was dark when we left the village park after the last
parade so the Sheriff gave us an escort back to the Wilcox farm
where we parked the engine. Say, I almost forgot something. While
we were driving the engine around the village a young man got on
the engine and asked, ‘Would I drive the engine over to his
father’s house and blow the whistle for him?’ Although
pressed for time, I couldn’t refuse maybe I was thinking of my
father.

As I drove the engine toward his house he told me his father was
blind and crippled and unable to leave the house. We drove the
engine into the driveway and blew the whistle. I then went in and
said, ‘Hello’ and shook his hand. With tears in his
sightless eyes, he thanked me and said what a wonderful thing it
was to hear the sound of an engine and hear a whistle again.

With a ‘toot’ of farewell we left. It was ‘goodbye
forever’ for that winter Billy White passed away.

Some may say or ask, ‘What good do you get out of all the
time you spend around those old engines?’ Do you like pleasant
memories of your youth? or have you watched a youngster’s eyes
as he gazed at a puffing engine as it moved down the street
belching smoke and steam? I think you have the answer.

Farm Collector Magazine
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