Early morning rain and leaden skies didn't discourage the many engine people and their fans who defied the elements on opening day at the 4th Kansas and Oklahoma Steam and Gas Engine Show at Winfield, Kansas in September, 1985.
The Cowley County Fairgrounds proved an ideal site, with plenty of space for engines and the events on the program; areas in buildings for food, antique, book and flea market sales, and the big grandstand for the antique engine pull. Unfortunately, the second day was rained out.
By the oddest of coincidences, the batteries on both my cameras failed. On one, taking prints, I was able to buy new batteries from a helpful vendor whose name I don't know. The other camera appeared 'broke', but I learned about the dead battery after returning home.
Margaret, who knows about engines from her girlhood on a Montana ranch, and I both enjoyed the visit. Margaret's brother, M. K. Gordon, and his wife Betty live in Winfield. They issued the invitation for our visit, showed us around and had a good time, too.
Participation has been growing each year, according to Mace Archer, a jeweler who is on the club board and does 'what needs to be done' to help the gathering move smoothly. He cited the tractor pull as an example. The first, three years ago, drew about 15; the second, 30; this year's 50. He predicts 75 for 1986. Cutoff date is 1938.
Probably 175 exhibitors were on the grounds, most with gas tractors or stationary gas engines.
On Sunday, the second day, Col. L. L. Penniger conducted worship service at 9 a.m. under the grandstand, but weather prevailed against other activities.
As with all clubs, this one is already looking forward to 1986 with the hope that the sun will shine.
The club drew plenty of attention to two steam traction engines which were in action Saturday. The club owns one of these, a 1914 Aultman-Taylor. The other is a Nichols & Shepard brought in by Don Bleck, of Wichita.
More than 70 tractors and other types of equipment were shown in the Saturday parade. John Logdson, of Winfield, was announcer for the parade and tractor pull and he gave Stemgas some deeply appreciated plugs. Participants in the parade included youngsters, and that we are always glad to see for it means the hobby is being kept alive into a new generation.
We talked to quite a few collectors. Bill Alter, of Ark City, Kansas, was showing a 2/5 scale Advance Rumely, which he and his son Albert built in three and a half or four years. He also built a half-scale Case which took a year. He paints in authentic colors.
Jack Billings, of Wichita, showed a 2/5 Geiser Peerless 1909, which he built 15 years ago.
Jeanette Nichols, of Rock, Kansas, was present to take movies in video for the club. This is her third year on this type of assignment. The films are shown at club meetings. She takes three hours of film but says that's too long for the members to sit through, so she cuts it to one hour.
Max Lemmons, of Wichita, a GEM faithful, told us he wants to see prices brought by engines at auctions (We're working on it.)
One of the novelties of the day was the small green car, a sort of a cousin to a golf cart, made from a 3 HP John Deere stationary engine by Frank King, of Moore, Oklahoma. The transformation required about five years. It has two whistles, one on an air pump and the other off the exhaust. He could take it on the highway, if he made a few additions of equipment.
Kirk Hammersky, of Cheney, Kansas, showed five gas engines on a trailer. One was owned by Deborah Baker.
Visitors included Lyle and Jolene Norland, advertising the Central Kansas Flywheels on their T-shirts. They mentioned that their 1986 show is set for August 15, 16, 17.
Dennis Metz, of Wellington RR1, was on hand with his sons. So were E. C. Hall, of Oxford, and his grandson Eric Hall, of Winfield.
Walter Reinhart, of Fredonia, Kansas, recalled that the 'worked here as a kid' for a dollar a day in the 1930s, pitching bundles and scooping grain, on threshing crews out of Winfield.
Among the many other readers and gas people we met were George and Mary Oiler of Enid, Oklahoma, who collect and restore antique engines and garden tractors; Leland R. Wells, of Wichita, also a gas collector and restorer; Kenneth Fiegel, 'steam operator deluxe' and collector, Kingfisher, Oklahoma, and Fayne and David Beattie, of McPherson, Kansas, gas collectors.
V. H. Stroud, of Hutchinson, Kansas, put in a claim to be oldest subscriber. He may find challenges. Ollie and Bernice Knepper, operators of O. K. Books Sales, who represent us at various shows, seemed to be doing well and we all appreciate that!