A Club History
Some engine clubs very kindly send copies of their own newsletters to the Stemgas office so that we can keep up with their news. One such newsletter is that of the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association, a relatively new organization formed in 1983. Thanks to Bob Hungerford, club president, we were able to compile the following short history of the club from back issues of newsletters and club photo albums. We'll gladly do such articles on other clubs as well, since each club's unique events, exhibits, and individuals make interesting reading.
In October 1983, the first Connecticut Antique Machinery newsletter provided some background on the then pending formation of the association. The following goals had been established.
Establishment of a permanent antique engine park for members to
use and for the public to visit.
Semi-annual engine shows.
Preservation of antique machinery.
Encouragement of research, training, and education regarding antique machinery.
To receive donations of antique machinery.
To receive permanent loans of antique machinery.
The original officers were: Robert Hungerford, president, Dudley Die-bold, vice president, John Stauffer, treasurer, and Vincent Reynolds, secretary. Serving as directors were Fred Dahl, Wesley Schultz, and Walter Pritchard.
Bob Hungerford, Dick Greene, John Stauffer, Bob Current, Fred Dahl, Frank Current, and Phil Mazzucco gather at one of the early ground clearing sessions in the fall of 1984,
The first project of the new group was the acquisition of a 10-20 McCormick-Deering tractor donated by Jean Novacco.
By February of 1984, the club was well on the way to acquiring land for its permanent museum, and the one item in its collection, the 10-20, was joined by other pieces including early threshers, gas engines, mowing machines, a seed drill, and fanning mill. By September of that year, final lease arrangements were announced for a museum site in Kent. A long-term renewable lease of 8.5 acres had been negotiated with the state, with a 4.5 acre piece to be added later.
The club's wooded land is located adjacent to the Sloane-Stanley Museum, operated by the Connecticut Historical Commission. The Sloane-Stanley Museum is a collection of old iron tools and early horse-drawn equipment. The name of the museum comes from its benefactors: The late noted painter and author Eric Sloane, who donated his extensive collection of tools to the state in 1969, and the Stanley works, which donated the land. A common entry gate is shared by the state's museum and the engine club, and both are bordered by the Housatonic River.
Also announced in 1984 was the donation of a Greene mill engine from the Tiffany and Pickett Company of Winsted, Connecticut.
This engine was installed in the mill in 1904 and powered the mill for approximately 50 years. Mr. Tiffany, an MIT graduate, chose this engine and supervised its installation in the mill. He was quite proud of the engine and had it kept in immaculate condition. Along with the engine, we have received many spare parts. This fall we plan to move the engine to our grounds in Kent. First though, we will document the engine in the mill, with photos, measurements and drawings.
The engine was painted a light chocolate color and has black and gold striping, along with many polished pieces.
Transportation of the mill engine begins in Winsted with the loading of the cylinder onto Dudley Diebold's truck,
There is the possibility this engine was built in Bridgeport, CT by the Pacific Iron Works, just south of Arctic Street. This company was issued a license by Noble T. Greene to manufacture Greene engines at their facility in Bridgeport.
The next few lines offer a brief history of the development of the Corliss steam engine and the modifications by Noble T. Greene.
1848 First Corliss Engine
1849 10 March, First Corliss Valve Patent
1850 Second Corliss Valve Patent
1852 Third Corliss Valve Patent
1858 Fourth Corliss Valve (not patented, nor often used by him, but used on Harris-Corliss valve gear of 1867)
1859 Fifth Type, but called the Corliss Valve Gear of 1867
1875 Sixth type was applied to all engines after 1875
---- Seventh was basically a modification of the Sixth Type
1985 brought additional growth to the young club. Numerous work was being negotiated. Meanwhile, a smaller mill engine was being sought.
An important committee was formed to develop a master plan of the site so that the planning of permanent buildings could begin. Fund raising appeals were successful in helping with start up and acquisition days drew members to the museum site to clear the field, remove and bury stumps, burn brush and plant grass.
Over the winter the engine from Tiffany and Pickett mill was dismantled and removed, then placed in storage. Two 1936 Ford trucks were donated, and the acquisition of a 1926 Buffalo-Springfield road-roller costs, the expenses for the 1984-85 fiscal year were just under $2100.00. A Fall Festival was planned for late September at the club's grounds.
By the end of 1985, the club had purchased the yard office of the Taylor Lumber Company in New Mil-ford, and moved it to the club grounds, where it was mounted on skids and painted. The building will serve as a tool shed/site office until permanent buildings can be considered.
A well was put in with the help of member Bob Pitcher, electric service was installed at the site by Richie La Russo, and land fill was added to some low areas. Many stumps were pulled by Phil Mazzucco who, along with Bob Pitcher, donated services of their tractors and backhoes and who put in many hours on them.
On Sunday, September 29, 1985, the first show was held at the site, and drew over 1500 spectators. 'Operational exhibits included: threshing of oats on the 1880's barn thresher given to the museum by the Weiland family of Clinton Corners, NY, and powered by Mike Nott's 1914 4 HP Titan International Harvester engine. Roxbury Historical Society was represented with their wood planer and many a board was put thru the machine during the day. Power for the planer came from Loye Mason's John Deere AR tractor. Dudley Diebold's 10-20 McCormick-Deering was belted to the shingle mill and later was replaced with his John Deere D. Robert and Bob Current were busy sawing wood with their cordwood saw and supplied Sam Smith's wood splitter with many bolts of wood. Ollie Olsen made apple cider with his early cider press. As a Beckwith brought over an operational blacksmith forge and tools and was busy making cowbells during the day. We had 8 craftspeople demonstrating and selling their wares and the Housatonic Valley Association brought in their display booth.'
In addition, the club was working to acquire two buildings which formed the Cream Hill Agricultural School in Cornwall, Connecticut, the first agricultural school in the United States.
In February 1986, the club's board voted to engage the land planning services of the Housatonic Valley Association to help develop the master site plan.
Construction priorities were established, and the first building to be erected will be 'Industrial Hall' to house the Tiffany and Pickett steam engine. This building will have a temporary end wall which will be moved out as exhibits expand and will incorporate restrooms.
Meanwhile, funding was being pursued to move the Cream Hill buildings and a storage shed was being planned. Later exhibits to be added included a sawmill, farm power house, blacksmith shop, hand tool exhibit, railroad stop, quarry exhibit, cider mill, sugar house, water tower and windmill, along with other miscellaneous barns and sheds.
In addition, the Housatonic Railroad planned to extend their summer excursion service to the museum site, beginning this summer.
Also, the club worked with the Connecticut Department of Public Safety to rewrite the state boiler code to include the operation of antique steam boilers. The result was state senate bill #24, which included amendments to the state boiler code.
Another acquisition still in the works at press time is a windmill in the New Milford area.
Half of the fly wheel outside the old mill building, ready to be taken to its new home. It was winched out the window to the left with barely enough clearance.
Mike Nott, Dick Greene, Fred Dahl, John Stauffer, and Kevin Shail pose with a 7 HP Sattley gas engine donated by Kevin.
The first Connecticut Antique Machinery Association show in September, 1985, drew 100 exhibitors and 1500 visitors. Some of the steam equipment an Olmstead engine and duplex pump.