Community shop Talk

To Walk or Ride? . . .


Content Tools

Online Engine Conversations from SmokStak and the Stationary Engine List


I belong to a club that throws two shows a year and a swap meet. Our club allows exhibitors, vendors and the public to bring golf carts, four wheelers and modern lawn tractors to ride around on. As attendance has grown, the vehicles have become a problem, and the exhibit and flea market aisles have become congested.

It has become almost impossible to navigate a larger-than-aver-age tractor even on main roads of the show grounds due to the parade of golf carts. Trams are provided to move people to and from different areas of the grounds, so having to walk great distances is not an issue.

I was wondering if anyone else out there has experienced similar problems at shows and how you all feel about it. - Dan

Dan, there are a couple of ways to look at it. From your prospective, those golf carts and lawn tractors are in the way. From my prospective, my vehicle allows me to buy numerous (large) things from the swap meet vendors and have a place to put them while 1 shop. It also allows me to keep my rain gear with me, it gives me a place to store my jacket as it warms up and a place to leave my coffee thermos while I shop. More than anything, it's a place for me and my wife to rest, as some of these shows are getting pretty well spread out. - Bill

I don't have a problem with older gentlemen driving around with golf carts who have a hard time walking. There is nothing wrong with that. But for the younger people, I wouldn't allow it. I mean come on, is it really that hard to walk? You wonder why America is the most obese country in the world? Because everything is made too easy for us. - Tanner

I have done the show and swap for over 20 years and just can't do it anymore without wheels. I always thought I was bullet proof - but it's just a part of getting old. - Dick

It's funny this subject came up as I was wondering if golf carts were allowed at the Portland swap and sell. I'm going for the first time this year and would like to take mine, but I don't want to get there and have to leave it on the trailer.

I know I'm going to be like a kid in a candy store when I get there, and I'm going to need something to haul around all my 'candy.' Also, I'm going to have a friend with me who recently had a hip replacement. He can't do very much walking at all. - Mike

As for golf carts and ATVs up here in Alberta, there are very few carts at our shows, and people that use them are organizers and older people. That's fine, but our shows aren't as big as some of yours down there, and you probably can't walk around the whole fairgrounds and still have time to show and run your engines.

As for the swap meets, I agree it's hard to shop for 'candy' and have to walk back and forth to the car. - Andrew

My wife is handicapped, and we love to go to these shows. In the past, I've had to push her in a wheelchair. With the grass and gravel, it was almost impossible. I bought an old golf cart, and we now have a great time.

At the Portland show, you have to register and show a handicapped sticker. We didn't have a sticker the first year, but they took our word for it. It's a great show, and you'll love it. - Bob

I'm hearing a lot of different thoughts here, and I'm inclined to think a cart or small tractor is a nice thing to have, especially if you're buying or trading iron.

I think the angle Dan's taking is the liability factor club officers and directors face from the possibility of someone getting hurt by a moving vehicle on the club grounds. I also know it's a growing concern from being a past president of our local engine club and a past county fair board member and president.

I enjoy riding my cart at shows like everyone else, but it may be necessary at these more-crowded events to take some precautions. What to do though, that's where it gets interesting. - Preston

What I find wrong with those who drive around in the carts is they seem to think they can drive right up next to whatever they want to see, and it doesn't matter if it's an exhibit or sale item. First of all, they block a large area of stuff that others now can't view, and secondly, they seem to think they have the right of way and expect you to move out of their way.

As for the comment about a good way to haul the stuff you bought, why don't you park it and walk. When you buy something, put it under the trailer or off to the side and come back and pick all of it up later. I have yet to find a vender who won't hold something to the side for you to retrieve later. - Tim

Very well put Tim! After attending the Le Sueur swap, I wasn't at all happy about the ATVs and scooters. I'm glad to hear the club recognizes it's a huge problem. I was only able to see an extremely small amount of what was at the swap meet because I'm recovering from a knee injury. I barely could walk around without almost being run over by ATVs and scooters.

I realize that some people are handicapped, but I can guarantee that 99.9 percent of the people running around on ATVs and scooters had no physical limitations. It's my opinion that if a handicapped person wants to attend a show or swap meet, they should contact the club that's sponsoring the event to find out the club's rules regarding golf carts or other means of transportation for the person in question. - Ironman

One solution is to have those battery-powered rental handicapped scooters available at the show site. Those who need transportation must rent them or walk. I know of one show that does that, and there are no ATVs, lawn tractors or golf carts to be seen. - Glenn

Some shows are so large that in order to see the whole thing you must have some form of motorized transportation. I suggest that show organizers adapt to the needs of the public, so able-bodied walkers and us old farts can both be accommodated. Further, I and many others really enjoy seeing all the varied 'butt buggies.' If you tell us we can't ride around, well fine, we'll just stay home. -Hank

It seems to me that no matter how many people respond to this thread with their support or complaints about butt buggies -regardless of what they ride - this argument is a waste of time and effort. Because, until show sponsors/clubs make some hard and fast rules and enforce them on what is allowed on the grounds, this debate will only get worse. - Joe

The purpose of this thread is to give everyone a chance to voice their opinion. Maybe if enough people become more aware of both sides of this issue, something could be done. I talk to the directors at the shows I attend and express my point of view. If more people would do the same, something may get done. Hopefully there will be a compromise that will be agreeable to people on both side of the fence. -Dan

SmokStak ( smokstak.cgi) is an engine conversation bulletin board with over 50,000 messages on file, and is part of the Old Engine series of Web sites that started in 1995 as 'Harry's Old Engine.' Harry Matthews is a retired electronic engineer and gas engine collector from Owego, N.Y., now residing in Sarasota, Fla.

. . . Diesel Discussion

Stationary Engine List By Helen French

Last weekend should have been the start of show season for us here in England, and we were planning on the UK debut of my Baker Monitor. However, the English weather altered all our plans with torrential rain.

While that prevented us from taking engines out, it didn't stop us from rebuilding a shelter in the garden to house some of the engines currently being stored under tarpaulins. Also, we constructed an impressive-looking exhaust for the Crossley VOE out of an old riveted fire extinguisher and some large-bore heavy copper pipe.

To finish a successful weekend on a high note, Jim dragged out his R&V, which ran badly for most of last year. For a while, he was convinced the coil was the problem, but this time he looked further and homed in on the igniter. A thorough cleaning to remove 90 years of carbon deposits, and she was running as sweetly as ever.

In addition to dealing with technical restoration queries, the Stationary Engine Mailing List sometimes deals with more general engine topics, such as 'What is meant by an oil engine?' This type of query usually generates a broad discussion, with contributions from the readers of in-depth historical literature, as well as those with sound, practical knowledge. The original question continued to ask, 'Are we talking diesels, any type of combustible oil, or what? How is the fuel ignited? I know oil field engines are methane/propane, but can't fathom just plain old oil engine.'

Oil engines run on heavier distillates than gasoline. Diesels are one sort of oil engine. Others are ignited by spark, hot bulb, hot plates, etc. Some inject the fuel directly, and some use carburetors with or without heated vaporizers.

A diesel is an engine with injected fuel and compression ignition. We have a St. Mary's oil engine at our club with an Hvid fuel system and compression ignition. This system takes fuel into a cup in the chamber on the intake stroke, it's ignited by compression and as the piston descends, it sprays fuel into the cylinder through small holes at the bottom of the cup to complete combustion.

Two of our club members rescued a large Buckeye oil engine from a cane field where it was installed in 1923. It was used for drainage and came with a 6-foot centrifugal pump, 20-inch discharge and riveted pipe. This engine is a 100 HP single-cylinder, 20,200-pound unit. It was restored, and we ran it for the first time at this year's Cypress Sawmill Festival in Patterson, La.

This engine uses a heated bowl in the combustion chamber for ignition and won't run without it. They cranked it for the first time, and it ran away. I wasn't present, but they were still shaking when I got there the next morning, and had decided not to try it again. While it was running away, they tried shutting off the fuel, and it kept gaining speed. I think what happened is that while they were testing and trying to start it, they filled the heated chamber with fuel. Attempts to start it with a propane burner for heat didn't work; my guess is the fuel was cooling the head.

They used a rosebud for heat and got the fuel boiling, and once it started the boiling fuel produced vapors to keep it going even though no more fuel was being injected. I suggested they install a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher plumbed into the intake to provide emergency stopping.

This engine was quite a crowd pleaser with its 10-inch exhaust blowing smoke rings over 100 feet into the air.

I've talked to several Hercules-Hvid owners at Portland and from what they've told me, running away is a real problem with these engines. That's why so few are left!

Interesting idea you have with the carbon dioxide to shut it down. How effective is an air shutter? Just a valve to shut off the intake air in an emergency?

The St. Mary is a four-cycle and has a butterfly in the air inlet to help throttle it if necessary. The Buckeye is a two-cycle and takes in air below the base.

I thought about a lever to open the air check valve, a large leather flap. This should stop the breathing process. The carbon dioxide could be mounted on the trailer where the controls are -there are plugs in the engine that would allow tapping in with no modifications. I have the fuel injector at the shop because the bypass valve wasn't seating. This is a plunger with a 45-degree seat like a valve in a head.

It's a smart design - the bypass is activated by a fork on the fuel plunger. As the speed increases, the governor pulls a wedge and causes the fuel to bypass at the end of the stroke. The injection always begins at top-dead-center when compression is highest and allows for maximum burn time. We ran it on a manual bypass and controlled fuel by holding the primer lever to limit the stroke. This holds the fuel back until late in the stroke, which was probably the reason for the spectacular smoke ring display!

A modern equivalent to the 'oil' used to define 'oil engines' would be diesel fuel. It's not a very precise term, and would include fuels as light as kerosene to fuels heavier than diesel.

A benefit of fuel oil is that it contains more calories/gram than distillates. It also has better lubricity and was cheaper to produce. The downside is it's harder to ignite at cold temperatures and is prone to detonation in engines with a conventional ignition. This necessitates lower compression ratios or water injection.

I appreciate your explanation. I didn't want to ask what Hvid was. I thought it was something like HVAC or something similar. With a little research, I've come to find out that it's the last name of the Norwegian or Swede who pretty much had the mechanical rights to the first diesel. Rudolph Diesel bought the rights, and there was mention that Diesel had problems with fuel, which brought the slide valve into play. Then, I guess Cummins perfected the injector pump.

Oil engines are generally a class of engine that run on the heavier distillates from crude oil, and are usually one of a small number of types, but as a broad generalization, you can break them into two types:
-Hot bulb or semi-diesel

Diesels generally are high-pressure injection and ignition, which takes place through the heat of compression.

Hot bulbs and semi-diesels tend to be low pressure or sprayer injection, and a blowlamp is needed for starting (and running, sometimes).

Rasmus M. Hvid (pronounced veed) was Danish. There are five patents involved. One by Brons, one by Timmer & Brons and three by Hvid.

Original books and manuals are much prized by List members, who are always happy to share the knowledge contained in them. There is also a great deal of research being done through patents, a time-consuming method of study, but one which has become much more accessible thanks to the Internet.

Engine enthusiast Helen French lives in Leicester, England. Contact her via e-mail at: You can join the Stationary Engine List on the Internet at: