The Sycamore Show


| January/February 1976



582 West Lincoln Highway DeKalb, Illinois 60115

8,941 automobiles rolled through the gates of the Taylor Marshall Farm on Plank Road North of Sycamore, Illinois on August 7-8-9-10 bringing thousands of spectators to the 19th Annual Steam Engine Show and Threshing Bee, 'The Sycamore Show', sponsored by the Northern Illinois Steam Power Club, a-not-for-profit organization. This is not the largest of the steam engine shows, but from the comments of those who come back year after year, it is one of the best.

Starting at about 9 a.m. every morning there was a varied program, under the supervision of Roger Baumgartner, providing many things for spectators. The big steam engines were operating the threshing machines with Leslie Petersen in charge; the saw-mill was using steam power and President John Malsch was supervising work there. An old corn chopper with a blower was cutting green corn stalks demonstrating silo filling with cattle feed. Model steam engines were working on the buzz saw cutting slab wood for the big engines to burn.

Over 175 hit and miss gas engines of all sizes popping away in a group by themselves powering simulated water systems, buzz saws, generators, washing machines and some 'Rube Goldberg' contraptions with a lot of activated parts demonstrating how to put the cat out for the night with out getting out of your easy chair in front of the TV. . . .once you got the engine started!

Incidentally that Flink Fan draws a lot of questions. It was built by club-member and director Gene Flink, patterned after the Baker fan which was designed to test the efficiency of a steam engine. Weights were applied putting more pressure on the brakes on the fan, in turn, coal used to fire the engine is weighed and after the fan is operated by the engine for half an hour, one can use an abacus, computer, or a dull lead pencil and the back of a politician's poster and come up with the footpounds of energy, per pound of coal per hour. . .I got lost someplace there's supposed to be water, steam cylinder oil, and a state boiler inspector in there. But it really doesn't matter. . .the fan blows a nice breeze through the building where the 4-H Club exhibits a petting zoo of farm animals.

Flour grinding with an old stone mill was busy all the time grinding whole wheat and whole rye flour. This was sold at three pounds for a dollar and the Wielert boys were busy for long hours every day. Close by was the shingle mill demonstration where Chuck Malsch sawed huge blocks of cedar into evenly tapered wood shingles. This was in contrast to the hand method of splitting, using hand tools, cedar shingle shakes, the thick heavy wood shingles. The shake-makers alternated their work with rail-splitting, gate and fence making, using antique hand tools and old telephone poles for their stock.