5710 Monroe Concord Road West Milton, Ohio 45383
Kim Besecker's 25 HP Baker, Dale Smith's 22 HP Keck Gonnerman, Bill Scheiding's 16 HP Keck Gonnerman, and John Holp's 20 HP Advance firing up in the early morning October sun.
The sometimes annual Leaky Flues Weekend was held the weekend of October 27, 1989 at the home of Sam Myers near West Milton, Ohio. What is the Leaky Flues Weekend, you ask? Well, this all came about last summer in the late afternoon action of a Central Ohio steam engine reunion. A certain group of active steam engine owners were indulging in a 25 HP Baker under fairly heavy load, on John McDowell's Power Eater. We jokingly asked John to flip a few more switches on the generator so that we could hear the Baker talk a little more. Someone in the background said something about John having a secret switch hidden somewhere on the generator with the label of 'leaky flues' on it. John laughed and said that if we didn't watch out, he just might use it. As the day went on, we talked about getting a few steam engines together in the fall and having some fun. I think that's when John Holp, Jr. said it could be called 'The Leaky Flues Weekend.'
The location was set here at my residence, some 30 acres, near West Milton, Ohio. We already have two engines here: a 16 HP Keck Gonnerman #1227 owned by Bill Scheiding of Arcanum, Ohio and a 22 HP Keck Gonnerman #1845 belonging to Dale Smith. John Holp, Jr. hauled his 20 HP Advance #13439 here a few weeks prior to the big day. Kim Besecker ran his 25 HP Baker some 12 miles from Arcanum, the week before. Paul Cole brought his 1/3-scale model Baker over the Friday evening before. Howard Miller brought his 6 HP Russell Saturday, the day the Leaky Flues fired up. Howard unloaded his Russell, then set out for John Holp Jr.'s to pick up Bill Nash's newly acquired 10 HP Russell. So in all we had 7 running steam engines and two unrestored engines of my own; an 18 HP Keck Gonnerman #1260 and a 20 HP Keck Gonnerman #1568. John McDowell and Dan Ruffner rolled in with the Power Eater ready for action. Dan Gregor brought his Baker fan. Another added attraction was a nice steep hill, so we could all try our hand at the famed Case incline stunt.
Things started to happen at about 1:00 in the afternoon. The Power Eater, the Baker fan and the incline were busy all afternoon. Each engine was busy trying out all three positions. We kept up the pace until about dark. John Holp backed his 20 HP Advance into the belt on the Power Eater and put on a real nice spark show that lasted 45 minutes. After everyone had shut their engines down for the evening, we headed for the shop to watch some slides from the past 20 years of area shows.
We got started at 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning. Bill Nash put a ham in John Holp's Advance smoke box, which was still belted to the Power Eater from the night before. Bill cranked up the Advance and gave her a nice workout, while smoking his ham. The ham was snugly wrapped in aluminum foil. After 40 minutes or so, he pulled the ham out and unwrapped it. Boy, it turned out great! The women prepared the rest of the meal, and what a great meal it was!
After lunch things started rolling again. John McDowell's Power Eater got a good workout as did the incline. But we were looking for something different to do. I know! We could pull some trees. There were some honey locust trees over in the east pasture field that had to come out. These trees and our horses just don't mix. We got John Holp to take his Advance out in the pasture and hook onto some of these trees. We pulled 8 or 9 trees, which left me a good sized pile to clean up and burn.
This is John Holp Jr.'s 20 HP Advance. John pulled some honey locust trees with this engine. It was almost 20 years to the day that he pulled 25 apple and 25 peach trees at my Dad's orchard near Brookville, Ohio.
By now everything was starting to wind down. Dan Gregor jumped into his '54 International pickup to go home, but the battery was dead. So we hooked a steam engine on to it and pull-started it. We tried to do everything with steam. There were NO tractors here. Also there were NO Case engines. We are tired of hearing about Case. You will notice in the accompanying photos that all of the engines are of the pegged on cast iron type, that the Case boys say are inferior to the Case engine. I didn't see one leaky stud on any engine, even after pulling trees, and some of them pulled mighty hard.
The weekend ended with no leaky flues and no leaky studs. Everyone had a good time, including our golden retriever, Leo.
The following weekend we proceeded to drive the engines, with Bill Nash in the lead, John Holp second, and Kim Besecker bringing up the rear, about 12 miles to John Holp's place. We started about 9:30 a.m. About midway Kim opened up the Baker and passed the other two. It was quite a journey! We arrived at our destination at 4 in the afternoon.
Altogether I feel our little 'Leaky Flues Weekend' was a huge success. Maybe someday, we'll do it again!