| November/December 1978

108 Carfield Avenue, Madison, New Jersey 07940.

Sweet are the uses of adversity. I had just arrived at the Leatherbark Campground in Cass, West Virginia for the 'railfan' weekend on the Cass Scenic Railroad when I noticed that one of the tires on my travel trailer was going flat. Now Cass is not the best place to get a flat tire. The nearest service station is in Green Bank some five miles away. So after much huffing and puffing I managed to get the wheel off and into my car for the trip to Green Bank. At that point I was expecting the worst, since the culprit was an arrowhead-like piece of stone piercing the tread itself.

As I paced up and down the gas station awaiting the verdict as to whether or not the tire would survive the repair, I chanced to look down the road a bid and there to my curious surprise was a sight to make me take a second look and to begin to ask questions. There nested among some buildings and behind a vegetable garden was a 'home built' steam powered traction engine. Its vertical boiler topped with a jaunty cap over the smoke stack obviously served the vertical stationary steam engine and could bring movement to a collection of gears, chains and jack-shafts. The grass was beginning to climb up along the rubber tired wheels suggesting that the vehicle had seen little motion at least this year.

The more the people in the service station answered my questions the more I was certain that I would enjoy talking to the owner. And, a subsequent visit proved this to be correct.

I timidly walked up the driveway to the house wondering if the owner might call the local police when the door opened and a smiling woman stepped out. Thus was to begin a series of visits to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Merritt Gum. This most gracious and interesting couple turned out to be subscribers to Iron-Men Album and readers of Gas Engine Magazine.

When one goes to the various historical shows featuring agricultural machinery and sees all of the painstaking restorations, we are perhaps inclined to forget or at least overlook the hours of tender loving care that has to go into making these machines operational. But in every case it just simply has to be a labor of love. All of the pictures and stories in IMA and in Gas Engine telling of the restoration and maintenance of these engines and machines cannot begin to give more than just a glimpse of the hours and hard work required and the technical knowledge needed to keep them operational. Similarly, seeing this old engine in the Gum's yard was only the tip of the iceberg.