15700 Santini Road, Burtonsville, Md. 20730
As I have said in the past, we need our young engineers, and this is a story about one of our best ones, His full name is Thomas Taylor Ackerman, but he is known to all of us here as Tom. He lives in Waretown, N.J., just a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean. His first attempt at operating a steam traction engine was a few years ago at the show at Berryville, Va. It was at this show that he operated my 20 h.p. Aultman-Taylor, and asked me. and one of my friends where he could buy one. He now owns three engines, of which two are Aultman-Taylors. His interest in Aultman-Taylor engines is especially highlighted by the fact that his middle name is Taylor.
Tom is 32 years old and quite active in the collection of steam cars, antique fire trucks, clocks, books, traction engines, and other antiques. Amongst his prizes are a Cadillac V-16, and a 1910 and 1922 Stanley Steamer, plus 1922 Franklin Air-cooled with an all aluminum body. For frosting on the cake, he has a 1924 Ahrens-Fox 1,000 G.P.M. pumper and a hook and ladder truck, amongst many others. I might add that the 1,000 G.P.M. fire truck is in factory original condition, after his rebuilding with a lot of time and effort. Tom says that he was never really satisfied with his antique collection until he got the traction engines, because he wanted something bigger.
He now has added another item to his collection, a railroad station. Yes, I said a railroad station! It was the old Waretown, N.J. station of the Toms River-Waretown R.R., and was built about 1895, replacing an earlier station. It was moved about 1/2 mile to Tom's home. Tom used his 16 H.P. to clear the roadway through the woods, and then he helped the house mover by coupling on and helping move the station. Moving a building with a steam engine today? Knowing Tom and his 16 Hp. Frick yes!. We suggested that he buy a railroad for his next project, and I saw a strange light in his eyes. Who knows?
Tom regularly travels 200 to 300 miles for the steam shows at the times of the Shenandoah Valley show and Berryville, Va., and the Md. Steam historical show at Arcadia, Md., plus many others each year. We operate each others engines, and alternate between them, depending on which ones we take. We have a good time, and are always assisted by some of our younger engineers, who often show us up when it comes to running an engine.
He is becoming a member of our local 'gang', as we are sometimes called. We fire up on a moment's notice, harass traffic, and create a general disturbance any time we get together. We have had a couple of complaints to the local police, but following a ride on the engine and a good natured laugh, the cranks, (human that is), have gotten nowhere.
I assisted in transporting his 16 Hp. Frick from Arcadia, Md., to Waretown, N.J. recently on a Saturday morning, a distance of 200 miles. After we turned off the N.J. turnpike, Tom met us in his 1930 Cadillac V-16 to guide us in. A 7 passenger limousine for an escort is first class! My young engineers and I proceeded to fire up so we could unload while the tractor trailer crew, Mr. Truman Stemm, and two of his family who had helped, had their stomachs refueled at Tom's table. After we had unloaded and the tractor trailer crew had left for home, the rest of us 'went to the trough' as Tom puts it. I can say this; Tom is a very gracious host.
I was assisted by two of my good young engineers, and was met in N.J. by another one and his parents, who had preceded us. They were Joe Newton, Rick Obbink, Wayne Boerum and his parents. The Boerum's watched after us, the house etc., as we proceeded to play with the engine all day and the majority of the next day. A good deal of time was also spent on Tom's trail bike, riding the many miles of trail through the N.J. sand and pines.
While we were firing up to unload we soon had many guests, including some members of the local police force and fire department, who seemed to think the woods were on fire. Tom fires up frequently, and they always seem to have to check on the fire. He fired up on Halloween and went out to the end of the road. As the Halloween parade passed, he blew the whistle, and there was a slight disruption, in fact total disruption.
Since all but the truck crew spent the weekend with him, the steam never went down. I was assigned a bedroom full of books on historical things and got two hours of sleep. On my next visit, I stayed in the same room. Thanks Tom, you know how to keep a steam nut up all night.
At the present time, one of his 16 hp. Aultman-Taylors is at my place being worked over by myself and some of my young engineers. We hope to have it rebuilt by the end of this summer. This includes tubes, piping, cab, platform, etc. It is otherwise in good shape. Tom's other Aultman-Taylor is in New Oxford, Penna. It will undergo some repairs, under the direction of Mr. Sam Osbourne, at whose place it is stored.
The house in which Tom lives is one huge museum. He has an untold number of antique clocks, a player piano, an organ, and numerous gauges, tools, etc. Direct descendants of his family have lived in the same house for 200 years. One of the interesting things concerning his collection is that in order to get two of his grandfather clocks into the house, he had to cut holes in the ceiling, due to the ceiling being too low. He also has two of the propellers from the lighter than airship, Los Angeles, which was seized by the U.S. as repatriation for war damages. It was dissembled at nearby Lakehurst, N.J. after its use by the navy. Later in the evening he took us for a ride in his Cadillac V-16 to see more of his collection, which is truly beyond belief.
Of course, all of Sunday was spent with steam up much to the delight of the local population, most of whom had never seen a steam traction engine.
One of the added features of the weekend was on Sunday afternoon, when Tom had to leave to chauffeur the bride-to-be of a friend, to her wedding. This is something Tom has done several times. I wonder how many brides can say that they went to their wedding in a Cadillac V-16 limousine?. If any eligible young girls are reading this, I might add that Tom is a bachelor.
After one of the most enjoyable weekends of our lives, it was Sunday evening and time to depart for the 200 mile trip home. Our thanks for your hospitality Tom and we hope to be back for another weekend, - a Wild Wild Weekend, steam-style.