Rules and Regulations at Antique Engine and Tractor Shows

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A regular discussion topic that crops up on the Stationary Engine Mailing List is about the rules and regulations that govern our hobby. Finding a compromise between protecting the public and keeping the rules at a sensible level so that all exhibitors are still able to enjoy themselves is a difficult one, and it's similar for show organizers around the world.

This issue, I've put together a compilation of opinions on the subject as expressed by show organizers and attendees. Regular readers will notice I've formatted the column a bit different than usual to group the subjects together.

I encourage you all to take note of the complaints, constructive criticisms and ideas for your next club meeting!

Ropes - Should there be one, two or none at all? We require a rope around engines, machinery and belts.

(The Australian members of the list declined to comment on this issue as the rules at their shows are becoming increasingly stringent. We expect to hear shortly that 6-foot-high, solid-metal fences will be erected at all show grounds, and the public kept away for their own safety!)

- Ropes around displays shouldn't be changed. They help keep unwanted injuries down.

- One rope is plenty.

- (UK) We always have two ropes or steel mesh around every engine compound.

- What if the engines are on a trailer or inside a covered trailer? I understand the concern, but I am against ropes as I don't run any engine while I'm not around (unless I've appointed someone to look after them while I'm away).

- I think one rope is sufficient. Mostly, it tells people where the boundary is and that they don't belong inside that boundary.

- Most people have enough common sense to stay out, but there are always those who feel they aren't the 'average person' and wind up inside your area. While they're talking to you, their kids are 'touchy-feely' on everything they get within 3 feet of. No amount of rope will stop them.

- One rope is fine as it helps keep spectators safe, and it keeps all the displays in line. At least once a day, you'll have to stop someone from crossing over the rope to get a closer look at a running engine without first asking permission.

- I personally don't mind if someone comes over to get a closer look, but I find if they cross the rope without asking they're also pushy enough to start putting their fingers where they shouldn't be.

- One rope works wonders, but some displays you want outside the ropes.

Gasoline - Is it free, available for donations, or not available?

- We cut out free gas the year that someone left the pump running unattended and spilled a bunch on the ground. That, combined with the Sunday afternoon gluttons heading to the gas barrel, makes free gas unlikely to return.

- Free gasoline is nice, but after spending over $400 for diesel fuel to get to a show, I'm not much interested in the $3.50 in gasoline that it will take to run my engine for two days!

- Having gas available for us stationary engine boys is great, and I don't mind paying for it.

- I'd rather pay for mine than see some creep put yours in his truck.

- (UK) Costs the earth, so it's never provided.

- Although I never use 'show gas,' I still feel it should be available free. Also, propane should be provided free. Remember who the show is for.

- At our show, we've always provided fuel. However, having someone attend the pumps is a good idea - both for safety and because some tractors come with empty tanks and leave with full tanks.

- I believe shows should provide gas - to an extent. Either set an amount for everyone, or base it on what each person brings. Maybe 1/2 gallon per engine per day and 2 gallons per tractor per day. Anything above and beyond that, the owner should be responsible for his own. It's nice to help out, but you always have people looking to take advantage of the situation.

- (Australia) I've never been to a rally where they provided fuel. Gasoline is a lot cheaper in the U.S. than here, so I would guess that's the main reason.

Kids on tractors

We have had a problem with people mad that their 5 year olds can't drive a crawler tractor through the parade by themselves. We also prohibit multiple persons on all tractors except the big stuff (OilPulls and steamers) where there is room for them and an extra pair of eyes is good.

- Don't let any kid under 10 years old drive a tractor anywhere. From 10 to 16, let them drive so long as an adult (over 21) is with them. At 16, make them produce a drivers license in order to drive a tractor on your grounds. EDGE&TA has an interesting youth driver program that you might want to look into.

- Yes, as long an adult is walking along with them.

- (OK) You have to be over 16 to drive.

- Make sure a parent or grandparent is with them! If you want to teach little Johnny how to drive, then do it at home!

- I feel any kid 10 years or older with experience should be allowed to drive in the parade. However, I've been to many shows where people allow their kids to drive around the show without much respect for others, and they almost run people over. Anyone driving recklessly should be warned once, and after that, no more driving for that person.

- Based on the behavior I've seen, I say no. I say anyone with a drivers license (16 years and up) can drive. Too often, I see problems because kids drive something they shouldn't. Granted there are ones who can, but the rules have to apply to everyone to be fair.

- (Australia) As most of our tractors tend to be involved in 'tractor treks,' they're road registered and driven by registered drivers.

- The rule regarding tractors is one person only, no passengers. Some younger members occasionally drive tractors in a secluded part of the rally grounds and a blind eye is turned. Common sense is always a good rule.

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: