A Super Show

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805 E. San Rafael Colorado Springs, CO 80903

The 4-Corners Antique Power Association's annual display of tractors, engines, and old farm equipment was held during the La Plata County Fair in Durango, Colorado on the weekend of August 13, 1988.

Secluded in the grassy, shady corner of the fairgrounds, just inside two main entrances, in close proximity to the Animas River as well as the famous narrow gauge Silverton Railroad, FCAPA members enjoyed not only beautiful weather, but a steady flow of interested onlookers from all over the country.

Some 50 engines and 20 tractors were displayed, some coming from as far away as Utah, central Arizona and New Mexico, as well as a few from the east slope of the Rockies.

A tractor parade was held in front of the grandstands on Saturday afternoon with proud owners and guest drivers putting their pride and joys through paces designed for the enlightenment of the spectators. Later an official Pull was held, and although it was never determined exactly whether the Poppin' Johnny or the Farmall was the better performer, all contestants had a good time, and vowed to return another year to continue their rivalry.

Clarence Shock from Austin brought his miniature scale-model Rumely Oil Pull, powered by one humongous Briggs WI engine, but was not permitted to enter the pull, the fear being that the combination of both extreme speed and raw lugging power might melt the bottom of the sled!

'Ol' Abe', the club mascot, an 1897 portable Case steamer, was in operation intermittently at the forefront of the engine display, along with a couple of other steamers, all being run, for lack of a certified boiler, on compressed air.

Del Donaldson from Albuquerque again had his famous Puddle-Jumpin' truck actuated by one 20 HP Witte wound up to the exorbitant speed of 96 RPM, which not only demonstrated the inherent impossibility of balancing reciprocating forces in one-lunger engines of such a size, but showed us that our li'l' toys need not be all 'purtified up' and fancy, painted, polished and striped to be interesting and informative for us all. (Uh'Del, if you need some more balin' wire.)

A trio of ancient aircraft engines was shown by Dick Heath of Farmington, the OX-5 displaying the engineering nightmare of its valve gear, and the 5-cylinder cut-away radial, fitted with a crank at the rear to allow it's rotation, doing more to teach the basics of 4-cycle engine design than all the books ever printed.

Your reporter brought his worthy De Laval milking machine engines, but none of the dairy entrants to the Fair would allow such contraptions to be used on their prize-winning cows, and since no one else provided their old cow, I was left high and dry. Just as well, for neither of the engines would start, and when they did they wouldn't run. Any real dairyman worth his salt would have stripped his cows rather than cuss those newfangled contraptions!

The pride of the show, however, went to Max and Jim Speer from Delta for their beautifully restored 10 HP Model S upright Stover. This engine was located in their area along the Gunnison River, deep in the canyon, but on the opposite side from convenient rail access, where it once operated a water pump to irrigate a watermelon patch. This determined father-son pair first waded the icy river in mid-November, completely disassembled the engine on the spot, and then sledged it across, piece-by-piece on timbers over the rough riverbed boulders. And under water yet! A clandestine railcar was built to trundle it down-track a few miles to easy truck access. Woe, had a coal train appeared!

Notwithstanding the fact that this engine had remained out of operation outdoors for over 50 years, it was still free, and missing only a few readily fabricated minor parts. Truly a compliment to our beautifully preserving dry Colorado weather!

Only 511 or so of these big Model S's were ever built from about 1910 to 1917. Of these, only a very few are still in existence; less yet still in operation. But operate this one did-day in and day out, chugging along, hitting once and then missing 6 or 8 times, at some 100 RPM's or less.

Special thanks must go to the local clan of the club, Willie, Bob, Dick, as well as June, returning on vacation from his retirement in sunny California, all of whom worked so diligently for the resounding success of the show. (My apologies to those many not mentioned.) And last but certainly not least, Mr. Fred Jones, not with us exactly in body, but certainly in spirit, as he was recovering from a gallbladder operation in the local 'horse-pistal'. Get well, Fred!

See y'all next year!