Rt. 2, Box 178B Westminster, Maryland 21157
The Thirteenth Annual Steam Show of the Maryland Steam Historical Society, Upperco, Maryland, was held at the Arcadia Fire Department show grounds, Arcadia, Maryland, on Septmeber 12, 13, 14, and 15, of 1968.
The weather was in our favor, engines and other show material began arriving on Wednesday, the 11th of September. The first day was one of excitment--the love of steam engines, with the odor of steam engine oil and coal smoke. One young blood, Bill Burke, had to prove that his engine was ready for the show. Bill belted his engine to the fan. He burnt every shovel of coal available and began to fire up on wood, just for the pleasure of hearing the melodious sound of his 9 x 10 Frick exhaust, to smell the perfume of steam engine oil and coal smoke. Bill put on a good exhibition of his ability to keep his 9 x 10 Frick hot and puffing. Food and soft drinks arrived; the kitchen and eating stand were set up under the expert supervision of Bob Gearheart. Some of the ladies were getting used to a new system of satisfying the hungry personnel who now had to line up and be served cafeteria style. Those served paid at the end of the line--this proved successful throughout the show.
The flea Market people were busy setting up their stands displaying anything you can name or imagine.
There has never been a more varied display of gas engine, large and small, even a gas engine converted and operated on steam-the work of the 'Wizzard of Fowblesburg'.
New steam traction engines, built to exact scale, made their appearance. A Case model, built this year by the same 'Wizzard of Fowblesburg', excelled in performance on the fan. It ran so hot and hard that the exhaust burnt off the paint on the smoke stack. One failure occurred; the Fowblesburg Special after two days of hard running, stripped a spider gear. She remained a center of attraction for young and old the rest of the show.
Bill Hopkins, who took a quick refresher course in Blacksmithing last year, made small horseshoes on his anvil--to the joy of the youngsters. Bill's arm gave out-still he was pestered to make more shoes; seeing no way out, Bill told his young enthusiastic crowd 'there is the forge, hammer, anvil, and material help yourselves' -- they did! When he returned, his fire was out, his hardy dulled by hammer blows, his punch chipped, and his tongs in the cold ashes.
Wheat was threshed and the kids had a ball jumping in the thrashed straw.
Logs were sawed. The shingle mill got a good workout. All the kids fought for the shingles.
As usual, the farm wagon was loaded with kids each time after returning to the starting point.
The novelty stands did a good business.
The renewal of memberships was under the guiding hands and eyes of Mr. Lintz, and Mrs. Merket. Several hundred renewed their memberships.
Each day watermelons were served on the saw mill. Some 'wit' contrived a log dog that would hold the melon exactly in one inch cuts. The kids lined up with two hands out to receive the pieces of melon. One old saw mill operator, Dave Wantz, came back the second day and brought his 82 year old brother John to see this unique method up cutting up a watermelon.
Of course, the saw mill was operated by a sassy Nicholas-Sheperd steam engine owned and operated by 'Oil Pull Pete' who is from the Land of Pleasant Living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
As the crowds came each day, old acquaintances were renewed. Members of other shows (now over) were present from Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, and the Central West, and the two early Maryland shows-Mason Dixon Historical Society and The Eastern Shore Thrashermen and Collectors Association, Inc. All came for two good reasons-to see the engines perform and get acquainted again; and to revive the age old arguments of boiler thickness, side crank vs. center crank, double cylinder vs. single cylinder, bore and stroke valve adjustment, lap seam vs. butt strap boilers, return flue engines vs. the conventional flued engines, why the injector works, proper method of firing, coal vs. wood for saw milling and straw burning.
The New Hubers (Now 50 years old), the Fricks, Nicholas-Sheperds, Case, Peerless Altman-Taylor were topics of discussion and sometimes produced as much heat in an argumetn as the engines themselves.
Today we played with the engines but 35 years ago they were the very important part of serious work teams-working from dawn to dusk and being moved at night by lantern light to the next farm for an early morning set to thrash.
It is very fascinating to see an engine ten to fifteen tons, steam or gas, start to move its great bulk, slowly to the observer, but too fast at times to the engineer who is maneuvering it in sharp turns and at the same time operating the seemingly simple reverse-forward lever, clutch, and throttle controls with his ever watchful eye on the water gauge and steam pressure gauge.
No show is without those who enjoy a good laugh by some simple trick that can deflate the ego of a person who prides his restored piece of equipment This fellow, Bill prided his big restored 60 horsepower Minneapolis gas tractor; repainted, heads removed, valves ground, new gaskets and hoses, water pump rebuilt, brakes adjusted, and running as good as new. This day it had pulled the 56 inch saw equally with the 60 horsepower Frick steam engines. Her governor opened up each time the saw bit into the log. He was confident that it could handle the new fan that the Club had built. For two days he had looked up from his work at his anvil while making small horseshoes for the kids and said to himself 'I would like to see what the Big Minnie could do with the new fan'. Stories were about that the fan was a real test for even the biggest and best steam engines. As far as he could see no gas tractor had tackled it yet. The hour was late, he was tired from his work and duties in helping with the show in general. He was approached by a committee to get the Big Minnie out and put her to the test. The large crowd had dwindled to few other then the members of the Club. Failure at this time would only be a rumor tomorrow. He did not have time to warm up the Big Minnie or run it around to give good lubrication to the bevel gears and bearings on the belt pulley. However, he put the Big Minnie into the belt. He failed to note that he was receiving too much help holding up the belt and checking the fan. He backed into the belt and put the Big Minnie in neutral and proceeded to engage the clutch to operate the belt pulley. The belt flapped and and the engine stalled. The 'help' still holding the belt, advised him to back the Big Minnie further back and belt dressing was applied to the belt. Again he tried to engage the tractor only to stall it. This did not seem possible! He knew this tractor was in good shape, had pulled the 56 inch saw the day, had pulled a loaded truck from the mud this spring and had hauled 3,000 feet of green oak lumber from the mill to his home to build his pole shed. After several more tries and too much advise, it dawn on him that a joke was in progress and that he was in the middle of the joke. He complained that if the chains were removed from the fan blades or the steel bar (or whatever was holding the fan) be removed, he could show the tractor's ability. He was shown that the fan could be turned by hand. Fear that he might burn out the clutch, he resolved to give it up. By the ribbing from the crowd and their increasing laughter, he knew that they had the best of the joke. The next day it started again, the challange to put the Big Minnie to the test was renewed. He refused the challenge until a very good member told him, confidentially, to refuse the help on the belt holding. He backed the Big Minnie into the belt again and slowly engaged the clutch-this time the fan began to turn, the Minnie started, the governor opened up and the Big Minnie did a good job! The jeering now became cheers and laughter, for Bill had at last learned about the 'old belt trick'. It was all in good fun and Bill did not lose his temper, he had thus been initiated into the belt-holding gang.
Our show is made up of members who work hard and have a lot of fun putting on the show. Legend has it that two men, still in the membership, after a visit to Pennsylvania some fourteen years ago, were inspired to start a show in Maryland. One was asked what he could contribute in the way of equipment? He replied, 'Five steam engines', that he had held onto for no other reason than his love and devotion to steam engines beginning in early years on the farm. The other replied, 'Well, I don't have any steam engines', and when asked what he did have he replied, 'A hand corn sheller, and a farm dinner bell'. That was how the show got its start. Today we welcome anyone interested in steam engines, gas engines, antique cars, tools used in past performance of farming, saw milling, wheat thrashing, etc. Our antique gas tractors are so numerous that next year we will have a separate parade for them.
The numerous antique motor vehicles gas and steam, are of a great interest and have a large following. To these owners and operators goes a lot of compliments for the restoring of these old vehicles.
Our President, Gilbert Wisner, is like a ringmaster of the old circus for he has the complete cooperation of the directors and regular members at show time and does a grand job, but, being human, he does have a fault-he has a sadist enjoyment of buying old gas tractors and cing these old veterans to run again, even to the extent of cranking them with the belt of a modern diesel tractor until they cough and heave into regular exhaust rythmn.
I might say in closing, we will not run out of sweet cider and toilet paper during our next show on September 11, 12, 13,14.1969.