Quartzsite's Annual Gemboree

THE MAIN EVENT

25 HP Superior

25 HP Superior, 1918 owned by Loyd and Cheryl Jones, Salmon, Idaho at Quartzsite, Arizona, January 1999. The engine was formerly owned by Marathon Products, Ohio. P.S., the Barbie had clothing on!

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3525 E. Hawser Street Tucson, Arizona 85739

Quartzsite, Arizona, is a winter mecca and destination for winter visitors who come to show, exhibit, buy and sell gems, antiques, collectibles and about everything else. A survey conducted during the month of January indicated over one million people passed through the community in that month alone, and the average RV population was approximately 350,000 units. The population of Quartzsite during summer months is probably about 3,500 residents.

The Main Event engine, tractor and mining show is sponsored by the owner, Howard Armstrong, who has done an excellent job of organizing, improving and enlarging this show each year for the past fifteen years. There were 155 exhibitors of engines, tractors, mining equipment, model trains and toys at this show on January 29-31, 1999. Included were approximately 300 engines and 30 tractors (of which two were 'Power Horses'). The tractors paraded on the 30th and 31st going through the entire Main Event swap meet. There was one exception, however, as a 1924 Best 2 ton crawler ran out of gas midway through the swap meet and had to drop out. Show exhibitors arrived from all corners of North America and many of our states were represented.

The largest engine was a 60 HP 1938 Fairbanks-Morse diesel, owned by Rusty Relics #30 from Lancaster, California. There were many impressive and well restored engines including the 25 HP Superior, 1918 vintage, owned by Loyd & Cheryl Jones, Salmon, Idaho. Another was the 20 HP 1921 Victory oil engine, owned by Kelly Garcia and Bob Skinner of Whittier, California.

The Maytag fans, and even I, got a good laugh over the 1909 Maytag Air-o-plane. It however has been upgraded somewhere along its historical path because it had a much later twin cylinder engine installed behind the propeller. As for airworthiness, it has some serious problems with burlap wings, tractor seats, hot water bottle airspeed indicator, DuPont black powder can for fuel, and evidence of problems like laundry and a dead chicken hanging off the wings.

The model train exhibit is billed as the longest in the world at 125 feet long, with all gauges running, some around ponds with live fish. The tent housing this display was enormous.

Other entertainment at the Main Event included airplane, glider, and hot air balloon rides. Radio controlled model airplanes were exhibited, one of which was a 'Flying Lawnmower.' This model is not only difficult to explain but impossible to describe how it flies, and it seems to defy the laws of aeronautics.

A smoke ring generator was ignited each evening as the air became calm, with a very loud report, a ball of fire, and then the biggest, blackest smoke ring ascending to the heavens. Unfortunately, some visitors were still searching for their pets as we were leaving on Monday.

It was a great show, a good time for all, with one small exception. A few people are still looking for the person or persons who blew the steam whistle at 6:00 a.m.

I think most of us came home with at least one new-found treasure. We hope to see everyone back next year with more friends and fellow collectors.