This article is a real hands-across-the-sea item. It was written by David Gray, a British engineer who lived in the U.S. for several years, and is a steam traction engine buff. He attended the Rough & Tumble Reunion at Kinzers, and traveled elsewhere in the V. S. to see steam engines. He has now returned to Great Britain, and wrote this article about the R & T teeter-totter for Steaming, the magazine of the National Traction Engine Club in Britain. We wrote to him in England and obtained permission to reprint, along with the pictures that appeared with the article. His address: David Gray, 60 Harbour Ave., Comberton, Cambridge, CB3 7DD, United Kingdom.
Since my article on American traction engine preservation in the March 1980 issue of Steaming, I have had numerous requests to provide more information about the 'teeter-totter' that I mentioned.
The teeter-totter is a heavy timber platform measuring approximately twenty-eight feet in length by some twelve feet in width and constructed of timbers two inches thick. This wooden platform is pivoted, either on a heavy timber log or on a specially built steel and timber trestle. The trestle is located under the platform at the mid-point of its length so that the platform becomes a large see-saw.
The object of this piece of equipment is to prove the drivers' skill and ability at controlling their machines by driving up onto the platform, and manoeuvering their engines into a central position so that the platform is balanced with each end equally off the ground.
It certainly takes a considerable amount of practice before a driver is able to match the skill of Paul B. Stolzfoos of Leola, Pennsylvania who is able to drive his Peerless traction engine straight up onto the platform and into the balanced position without the necessity to reverse his engine once. He does it with such speed that no sooner is his engine mounting the platform than he is blowing the chime whistle in triumph having 'balanced out'.
My pictures show Paul demonstrating his prowess at the Rough & Tumble Engineers' showground at Kinzers in May 1980 firstly driving on the tipped up platform and then standing, seconds later, balanced in the horizontal position.
The teeter-totter certainly provides an excellent form of competition for the drivers of engines and also, at times, some amusement for the onlookers.