Whatever your various ground hogs had to say on the subject, there should be
at least a hint of spring in the air as you read this. Which means one thing - show season is just around the corner. email@example.com
During long, dark and cold winters, it has been known for the ATIS Stationary Engine Mailing List to suffer from cabin fever, but we have one dedicated member who tries to prevent this by stimulating interesting engine-related discussion with a well thought-out question. One of these, entitled "Show it or Stow it" has provided the subject matter for this month's article, and should provoke some thought as to which engines will be rallied this summer.
* Are there engines you should just leave at home, rather than take to a show?
Or ..... how do you decide which engine(s) to take to a show?
* Personally I take what ever was my latest engine or restoration or whatever I can get out without tearing the whole garage apart to get it out.
* Why "stow it"? Why not show it?
* Because it is not ready to be shown. I've got a 2hp R&V engine, the hopper still has dirt in it and the piston is stuck. It is still just like it came off the fence row at a farm in MT. It's a project waiting for me to find time to work on it.
What would be the point in taking it to a show unless it was being used as a "before" example to sit next to a restored one?
If you've only got one engine, then you really don't have a choice. But if you've got several engines why not show the ones that have been fixed up and run as they should. Doesn't matter if they still have original paint or a high gloss job, but at least they should have something about them that adds to the show.
I think too many people will take any old engine to a show just to get in as an exhibitor without any thought of whether their engine adds to the show or just adds to the engine count.
* I like to take my runners and just one non-runner and the parts to finish it.
It is a lot of fun firing one up at a show.
The only runner that I left home for several years was my FBM ZC 52. It was close to a runner, but it needed a few details worked out. Anyway I did take it to Portland 2003 with me, then I traded it off for a very nice (hot) Wisconsin mag and bracket for my 1918 1-1/2 hp Hercules F.
* If it is on wheels I'll show it. If it is NOT on wheels I stow it. (Which explains why my wife's New Way is still gathering dust in the shed.)
Also LIFO is a factor. Last engine In the trailer, First Out next engine season.
Hey, both of those boil down to plain old laziness don't they?
* I have a lot of engines that haven't seen the light of day for years, does that make me a hoarder? I don't think so.
I used to haul several loads of engines to our local shows but that just got to be too much work, so now I just take one trailer full now.
Too many toys, too little time!
* Why is that a problem - especially if you'd be so kind as to rotate what you show?
It can be all one can do to haul one load, so insisting on more might just make some not want to show at all, and that would be the shame of it all.
* It can be a pain to dig the engine from the far corner of a small,l already crowded storage area. I have to move a tractor, washing machine (yes, Maytag) a mill, and other engines to get back to my pump display and mud-pump.
And the LA is not on wheels, so it's a pain to move and load, but it is a nice looking little engine - runs, too.
* I often take my ugliest engine (which is probably one of the most common in Australia) the Rosebery 2HP vertical. Why? Simple, it is so common it is often the only one there and secondly because it is mounted on a drag saw and it always draws a crowd when I start ripping into a log. The sound of the 10' saw running back and forth in the log draws people away from the shiny "doing nothing but spin" engines and self-answers the
oft-asked "what did it do".
My favorite often comes with me - the Southern Cross P type - but people don't realize why it is special until it is the last one running at the end of the show and people realize that you cannot hear this 4hp engine running except for the rhythmic clicking of the valves and the whirr from the magneto chain. That usually surprises people. It's flywheels are so heavy it hardly ever fires - not bad for a throttle governed engine.
* Reliability is the key for me. If it runs reliably it can go. I go for the spectators, not to impress the other engine guys. My 3HP Fairbanks Morse is one of the most common engines out there but at the last couple of shows, it was the only one there. Unfortunately, the people who lived and worked with these engines are leaving us rather quickly so the spectators have lots of questions and probably couldn't care less whether an engine is rare or rusty. They just think it is neat.
The issue of reliable running engines brought up another point about the adventures which can be had showing them.
* Trust me on this one; if you want to entertain the spectators, take your hardest to start engine. Any time that I'm fiddling, cranking, and sweating, I've got a crowd of spectators. Once the engine is running nicely, they drift off. The engine guys are impressed by a nice running engine.
* That works both ways. If you want something to not start or to run badly just get a bunch of people watching... If you are alone with it, it will always start right up.
* Your words are the truth as always. I have sweated on an engine at shows numerous
times and the crowd just keeps growing.
And, of course, the WORST part is when (after a large crowd has gathered and you're tired and sweaty) your engine "buddy" comes up and whispers "Try it one time with the fuel turned ON." then walks away snickering.
Been there, done that. At least the crowd applauds.
* Now that brought back a memory. I had shown engines and the John Deere at a show here a couple of years ago and had just packed up to head home. I had to wait for the guys who were hauling the tractor so I was just walking around killing time. I saw a fairly elderly gentleman trying to hand start a John Deere D. He was pulling it over and
pausing to catch his breath so I went over and offered to help. He was very grateful and I proceeded to start pulling the flywheel over and this tractor wouldn't even cough. He wouldn't let me choke it more than halfway as he was afraid of flooding it which is not good on a D.
After pulling on that flywheel for about twenty minutes, we got a friend of mine to hook on the front with another tractor and started to pull it around the grounds with the gentleman on it and me running along beside playing with the choke. I even flipped the choke to wide open and no gas was coming out of the taps. Finally we stopped and I asked the older man if he was sure there was gas in it. He said there was then got a funny look in his eyes and reached under and proceeded to turn the gas on at the sediment bowl. Sigh.
I pulled it over twice and it fired right up
* When at the Coolsprings show this past June, my never-fail, first-flip, 7HP Economy would not start one morning. I changed spark plugs, wires, spare magneto, new gas, checked timing, and numerous other things, of course getting more frustrated by the hour. Many people would stop and watch me trying to get it started. Finally out of shear frustration, with head hung low, I asked a friend if he had any suggestions. He came down the row, looked things over, and "back flipped" the damn thing and it fired and took off, making me look like a fool!!! I later found out that my Wico magneto trip spring had gone bad and needed proper shimming.
* I've got a few engines that will generally start on the first pull over compression. Although I know that these are easy starting engines if I have someone watching I'll often say that I'm not sure if it will start or not. That way when it starts so easy everyone is amazed!
I've gotten burned a couple times when I've told someone that it will start on the first pull and then have it not do it. So it's better to just play it safe.
And with that little side discussion, the talk moved back to the original subject and what constitutes "hoarding" in terms of engines.
* Too many "hoard" them, collect and stow and prevent anyone else from ever seeing them again.
* I still have about 75 engines, down from 155, and I am hoarding them. I do it because I can. And I got a lot of them cheap, $25 to $300. It didn't seem all that cheap then, but now, it was a bargain.
When someone brings up the subject of the evil folk who hoard stuff, I think of my favorite television show and it's hero, Archie Bunker. On one episode the luscious Sally Struthers was trying to convince Archie about the necessity of gun control laws, she tells him about the thousands of people killed every year by handguns. Archie simply responds by asking her "Would it make you feel any better if they was pushed outta windows?"
And so it goes, would it make you feel better if they had been scrapped?
* I'm not a hoarder. I try to keep only the engines I really like. I've told myself that I'd like to limit my collection to about 12 engines. Of course when it gets over 12 I then tell myself I'll limit it to 15, then if I get over 15 I'll have to limit myself to 20! Actually I haven't counted lately so don't know if my limit is 12 or 15!!
There's nothing wrong with hoarding as there are enough engines out there that anyone wanting one can have as many as they have room and money for.
However, I still hate it when a really nice engine goes to one of the black holes of engine collecting. I know of a few collectors that never exhibit at shows and also don't show their collections to visitors. A person with a large collection obviously can't haul all their stuff to shows, but it's almost a crime to hide the stuff away and not let others
see what you've collected.
* This hoarding thing reminds me of an incident at an auction a while back. It happened to feature a copper-tubbed washing machine. All shined up, it would have made a beautiful centerpiece, anywhere. A lady bidder really wanted that machine, badly, but it went to an aggressive bidder, a rather unfriendly sort who also bought most of the half-dozen, or so, engines being offered.
Someone told me, later, that the guy has barnfuls of antique engines, washing machines, and the like. He just buys them and stuffs them away, never to be seen, again--at least in his lifetime.
The fellow's motives are anybody's guess. Shrewd investor? Selfish hoarder? Who knows.
* I only keep the stuff I really like. Problem is, I like 'em all. I also realize that if Person A puchases an engine, they are purchasing it for themself, not for me. While I would like to see some of the iron brought out of the cobwebs, if they desire not to that's their business. I've got about 75 old engines, some Model T's and other old cars, model engines, and a lot of junk. While I get very little of it out at show time, the doors are always open for anyone to stop by and play with it. I probably have 5 or 6 apart right now with parts loaned to folks. If I hadn't "hoarded" it, I wouldn't have it to loan.
So there you have a little food for thought about your engine collections, and something to think about when choosing which to take out and show. There are so many things to take into consideration - your own satisfaction, pleasing the spectators, attracting other engine collectors, preserving and demonstrating history … Above all, remember that this is a hobby and should be fun, so don't get stressed agonizing over these questions!
Whatever your various ground hogs had to say on the subject, there should be
at least a hint of spring in the air as you read this. Which means one thing - show season is just around the corner.