A Super Show

By Staff

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!

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Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines