Our Hobby


| November/December 1974



They're doing some amazing

Yeah, they're doing some amazing things with soybeans, nowadays!

Mrs. Ed Schwerin

Burgessville, Ontario, Canada

While riding around on our steam engine or tractor that Wally and I were exhibiting at the steam shows last year (1973) I got to thinking just how and why so many good people, young and old, and in all walks of life were busy doing just the same as we were doing. How did we get into this hobby? What was the very first reason that started us into collecting, cleaning, rebuilding and showing these grand old engines, be they large or small?

On a Sunday in 1962 in September, Blanche, Wally and I were visiting Jean and Bruce Kipp. Why were we visiting the Kipps? Well Blanche and Jean are sisters so that makes Bruce my brother-in-law. Now Bruce is a right good guy, he and I get along fine together, we don't agree on everything, neither do we disagree on everything. Jean and Bruce had been to a steam show in Milton on Labor Day, which I had never heard of before. Bruce, with great enthusiasm was telling me about all the gas engines that were there, all painted and running like new, also there was a whole row of tractors some of which he had never seen before all cleaned and painted and then he said there were more great big steam engines there than he had ever seen in his life. All the time he was telling me about the show I kept murmuring to myself ya ya I know, and then I told Bruce that when I was a kid we threshed and filled silo with steam, and that my Dad had a gas engine that used to run the orchard sprayer and pump water, that is after our windmill blew down, also we used it to buzz wood. I also could remember some of the old tractors. Our neighbor had an 8-16 Mogul, like the one Wally and I have now. I watched it steam and bounce and bang away while it filled my uncle's silo.

My Father and Mother bought the farm in 1913, which Blanche and I are still living on now. I was 6 years old when we moved here. Oh my gosh, I've nearly told you my age. Oh well, so what, I am certainly not bragging about being that old, but s I look back to my boyhood days I believe it was a good time to be born.

There was something about steam engines, tractors and gas engines that fascinated me. The days we threshed and filled silo were the biggest days of the year for me. I watched every move the engineer made while running the steam engine and in my dreams I often thought how wonderful it would be if I could have a steam engine all of my own, just to play with. At that time I never thought that dream would come true.

This gas engine that my Dad had was an International Famous Upright, the kind that never wore out. One day when Mother and Dad drove the horse and buggy to Woodstock, a distance of 11 miles, I got curious to see what was inside this engine, so I got the monkey wrench and an alligator wrench and hammer and cold chisel and proceeded to take the head off. (That was about all the tools my Dad had) When I got the head off I would turn the flywheels and watch the piston go up and down and I soon figured out why the engine would run. One afternoon my Dad went to start this engine and after about an hour of cranking and cussing he gave up and went to the barn to start chores. Well I started tinkering with it and in about 10 minutes I had it running. I heard Dad tell my Mother that night, that he couldn't understand how I got that engine to run. He guessed my head was full of wheels. Now that I had found out why an engine would run I began to try and find out why they wouldn't run. This was very important because in the early days of the combustion engine the knowledge and maintenance of an engine was very limited. A farmer may be a good judge of a cow or a horse, but his judgment of a gas engine was about nil. I soon got the name of being the neighborhood tinkerer. When our neighbors had trouble starting their engine they would call on me, most of the time the trouble would be very simple. Things like, out of gas, broken wire or loose wires, batteries wore out, dirty spark plug or igniter, dirty magneto or maybe a few drops of oil would fix it. Experience is in some ways a cruel hard teacher but a good teacher. It was not uncommon to see more than one person sporting a black eye or a cut nose or chin. You would say whatever happened to you and very often the answer would be 'I was cranking that d--- engine and the blanket-blank crank flew off and hit me in the face'. Believe me a cast iron crank can hit hard.