Because I am interested in collecting and restoring antique engines, I was invited to help with the annual Steam and Gas Engine Show at Bridgeport, Nebraska this fall and it proved to be one of the most interesting days a house painter (my trade) could ask for.
It takes a lot of hands to keep those old monsters running and some fancy footwork to line them up and handle the big crowd that attends. Little things like sand in your shoes or sanburrs in your socks are forgotten when one of the big ones makes a successful swing around the parade ground. And they were all there - Aultman-Taylor, J.I. Case, Waterloo Boy, Rumely, John Deere, Huber - to name a few.
The old Aultman-Taylor came to an obstinate halt half-way around and had to be dragged off by a proud old Case. The 12-ton giant was a load for the smaller steamer and the smoke billowed and the steam rolled as it dug into the sand. I had misgivings about the Waterloo Boy but it made it without a hitch. Last year the governor stuck and I had to drop into low gear and run by adjusting the speed on the carburetor
The 1910 two-cylinder Rumely was hard to start because it has make and break ignition (no spark plugs). The old monster gave the little G. P. John Deere tractor a tussle just to turn over those immense iron flywheels, let alone start it; but the big four-cylinder Huber came around the parade ground with its head in the air, no smoke and without missing a shot.
We had one ancient hard-tired G. M. G. which we finally got started by advancing the spark by hand. It has no battery, just a magneto. I held the spark lever while my assistant engineer drove. Those old rigs are hard to steer and when we came a-round the corner, we ended up against a tree. To complicate our embarrassment, it took quite a while to find reverse and get back on course.
One of the most interesting added attractions was a steam calliope pulled by a pair of bay mares. It was run by an electric motor.
The crowd also liked the 22-inch, hand-fed Case separator powered by eight head of horses. This year it had a 'cheater' on it because it had given the horses such a load last year. A car transmission was installed next to the separator, but you could still hear that beveled gear drive pick up speed and it did my heart good to hear that old familiar sound.
Among the one cylinder gasoline engines was a real work of art by Don Messing, Route 2, Sidney, Nebraska. Its shinny black castings and bright red flywheel were mounted on a four-wheel steel frame. The engine, a twelve horse Seager, was found in a scrap heap and took many months to restore. The piston was rusted tight and to loosen it, Messing packed it with dry ice and used a twelve ton jack to move it a little at a time. Some parts were missing and had to be handmade. The ignition is a battery and Model-T coil.
The engine was made by Seager Engine Works, Lansing, Michigan and dated 1908 or 09. The motor appears to be older than that, a 12-horse Olds, 250, Type A-6. The original owner was Raymond Walker who lived in Iowa. It was brought to Nebraska in 1916 and used on a corn sheller. It has a horizontal saucer muffler. The block is cast in sections and has a pot head. The red and black paint is purely a guess as there was too much rust to find a hint of the original color.
There were also an old Sears Roebuck, six horsepower upright I. H. C., John Deere, two Fairbanks-Morse and a Fuller and Johnson geared to a pump jack.
My latest acquisition is a small Novo, upright, one cylinder engine which I found and bought at Wallace, Nebraska enroute home from the steam engine reunion at Bird City, Kansas.
I would like to tell other readers that anyone having trouble finding good drip oilers that they can get them at the Cornhusker Machinery Co. in North Platte, Nebraska.