Steam Show Shenanigans

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Walden Cope lines up tractors & steam engines for picture taking at the 1988 Montgomery County Threshers Show.

17837 Lindenwood Road, Lindenwood, Illinois 61049.

What’s a ‘dingy broad’ doing writing about steam
engines at a steam show? For one thing she’s tired of hearing
everyone complain that many show reports seem to forget why
reunions started: to watch the steam engines run one more time. For
another, she does not accept the philosophy that flea markets and
craft demonstrations have been included at shows entirely to serve
the purpose of keeping the women out of the men’s hair.
Thirdly, since the tender age of five years she’s been
attending steam shows, hanging around the steam engines, much to
the distress of her mother! And finally, I’d rather run our
25-85 double Nichols and Shepard than be chief cook and bottle
washer any day!

I may not be able to cite you all the specifics about every
engine I’ve seen, nor am I a machinist who can talk to you at
length about engine restoration. What I can tell you is how one
group of Illinois steam engineers made the Sycamore Show fun to
attend this year.

Seems like there’s always some sort of friendly competition
started among the engineers at our shows. This year it began on
Friday by seeing who could develop the fastest r.p.m. on the Flink
fan. Boy, did the excuses fly around on the breeze caused by that
little contest. You know the ones: ‘The belt’s slipping.
The governor never was right on this engine. Your engine’s got
a higher pressure rating than mine. What! That’s all the faster
you can go and you’ve got 150 lbs. compared to my 125
lbs!’

Our Sunday crowd was treated to a new event. Three steam engines
competed in a modified belting/threshing contest. Each engine
backed up to the separator. The clock started when the hitch
dropped and stopped after the engine was belted, the separator up
to speed and 60 bundles threshed. Bill Karl Sr. ran the bundle
wagons, Les Peterson, Larry Marek and Jim Tesch were the
separator/belting crew. Phil Blanchard and myself ran the stop
watches. Tom Runty of Coal City, Illinois on the Advance had a time
of four minutes and 59 seconds (belt slipped). Paul Anderman of
Oswego, Illinois on the single Nichols and Shepard had a time of 4
minutes and 16 seconds. (Paul was in the belt fastest but took
longer threshing.) Joe Somers of Linden wood, Illinois on the
double Nichols won with a time of three minutes and 28 seconds.

Evening activities included the public shower available courtesy
of the ‘Marek’ Fire Department, Hinkley, Illinois. Larry
now owns two fire trucks. Steam heat warmed the water. After
official events closed for the day everyone was welcome to bring
their swimsuits, soap and towels and to jump into the shower. There
were plenty of volunteers willing to man the hoses. Of course when
two fire trucks are found in one place and there’s no fire,
there has to be a water fight. Innocent bystanders don’t stand
a chance of staying dry.

Overnight visitors are often treated to music around the
campfire. Everyone is welcome. Bring along a chair. Pull up a
place. Play an instrument? Bring it along. Like to sing? Come lend
your voice. We aren’t professionals but we sure have a good
time. Saturday night remained still and clear with a moon peeking
over our shoulders while we watched one of the prettiest spark
shows yet. Everyone left their campsites to witness the shower of
dancing lights put out by the Advance on the fan.

Why don’t you come see us next year? Maybe we’ll have
time for Billy’s Block Race again. Bring along your ideas to
‘liven up’ the show. If you won’t take the time to
write an article about your steam engine activities the least you
could do is come share your stories in person with this ‘dingy
broad’. See ya in August!

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment