Chautauqua County Antique Equipment Show

6 HP Ripley Rumsey

Dale Nickerson's 6 HP Ripley Rumsey.

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R. D. #4, Box 463, Jamestown, New York 14701

The idea for the Chautauqua County Antique Equipment Show was born one morning in 1975 over a cup of coffee. The instigators were two partners in a countertop installation business and their insurance agent. The evening of the same day, these men were on the phone and on the road organizing the first show. That show consisted of six or seven tractors, 25 or 30 engines, a tremendous downpour of rain, and sparse attendance.

The second year was far more successful.

Our 15th show, August 19 and 20, will be our third at the present location, Dart Airport, Hartfield, New York. Here we have a backdrop of small planes taking off and landing. Bob Dart also has a museum of aircraft engines, radios, propellers- some locally made-and many other items including the largest engine in terms of horse power many of us have ever seen, a 2,500 HP double radial!

Another feature setting our show apart is the antique radio display. These are old battery sets, really old, averaging nearly 70 years, some experimental, some early commercial, and all in beautiful shape. Some of the cabinets were made by local furniture firms.

In recent years our show has been strong in antique cars. Part of Sunday of last year's show we had more than twice as many cars as we had tractors. We usually have one, sometimes two, International Auto Buggies on the grounds for pictures and rides.

Our part of the country, near the historic Pennsylvania oil fields, is fortunate to have a supply of oil field engines both two and four stroke, many with hot tube ignitions and cross head design.

We draw exhibitors from as far as Ohio and Ontario and we usually have about 100 engines (ranging up to 40 HP) and one to two dozen tractors. We had two steam traction engines at early shows and in recent years we have a small stationary engine and boiler mounted on a cart.

Some of our unusual engines have included a 1905 Neverstop, and an 1898 Dixie drag saw in our early years. In more recent years our current president, Dale Nickerson, has restored and displayed a Rumsey, manufactured around 1905 in Ripley, Chautauqua County, New York. Last year he restored a five horse power DuBois. The DuBois, manufactured in the northwestern Pennsylvania city of the same name, is the only known example of that size and the second known example of that make.

Another feature of last year's show was Ward Smith's display of the Anderson milker. He had two models of pump along with a milker unit and pail from this defunct local manufacturer. He had consulted a former engineer from the firm and assembled an interesting history.

Although our contingent of tractors is not large, it has variety. We always have well conducted and narrated parades and some special displays such as slow races or the riderless circling of Richard Wise's Titan.

Other past and present features of our show include a sawmill, shingle mill, scale model display by our sister club the Chautauqua /Cattaraugus Model Engine Club, log hewing, and elaborate model railroad display, and the 'magic faucet' that hangs on a thread and runs a full stream of water all day. We have had threshing, stone milling, and a one horse treadmill. Last year we had a veneer mill. A young woman made cheese boxes from the veneer employing machinery salvaged from a local factory.

In the past we have included vendors, but now we are set up tight against a flea market larger than our own show grounds. Parts dealers can join the general flea market and family members who tire of engines can wander and spend the whole two days hunting treasure.

Our show is on a highway not far from the New York Thruway in a major tourist area. We are only a mile from Chautauqua Lake which has both a paddle wheel steamboat and a meticulously authentic 16th century merchant sailing ship. Our area also has world famous Chautauqua Institution, numerous historical and railroad museums, six wineries, and many quaint bed and breakfast places and craft outlets.