Do You Want to See Engines? – Portland, Indiana is the Place.

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Carl Stewart's 4 HP Jacobson sideshaft.
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Carl Stewart's 4 HP Jacobson sideshaft.
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Members of the Spark Plug Collectors.
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Art Gaier's 2 HP Bull's Eye Gas Engine and his 2 HP Aermotor.

GEM staffer

The Tri-State Gas Engine & Tractor Association held
their 34th Anniversary Reunion on August 25-29, 1999, at the Jay
County Fairgrounds in Portland, Indiana. They state in their ad
that they are the ‘World’s Largest Gas Engine & Tractor
Show’ – I would say, ‘They’re right!’

One of the first displays that caught my attention was an
Eclipse engine and a Bessemer engine. I met Shorty O’Rourke of
Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, who owned the 4 HP Eclipse engine serial
#2068, pictured below. This engine was made by the Luther
Manufacturing Co. of Olean, New York. It had been used as an oil
well engine. The 2 HP Bessemer engine with serial #A814 was built
by the Bessemer Gas Engine Co., Grove City, Pennsylvania. It was
hooked up to a pump built by the Co-lumbiana Pump Co., Ohio, with
Patent 1907. The engine ran at 650 RPM. This engine was displayed
on black walnut skids as shown below. I was surprised to find out
this engine was owned by Shorty’s 14-year old nephew Doug
Mixter, also from Coraopolis. He received this engine for a
Christmas present when he was just 11 years old.

A 1905 4 HP Jacobson side shaft was beautifully restored by Carl
Stewart of Owenton, Kentucky. This engine was manufactured in
Warren, Pennsylvania. It took Carl seven years to buy this
engine.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Evelyn & Art Gaier of
Versailles, Ohio, acquaintances from the 1995 GEM European tour.
The Gaiers have been dedicated exhibitors at the Tri-State show for
28 years. They were exhibiting their 2? HP Aermotor general purpose
engine with a fluted cooler. The Aermotor was built by the Aermotor
Co., located in Chicago, Illinois. This fluted hopper engine was
Aermotor’s most attractive engine style. It was protected by
Patent No. 987,177 of 1911. Hopper cooling does away with the large
water tank and the troublesome pipe connections. There is only one
fluted sheet steel hopper-which is found on the Aermotor. There are
thin walls between the water and air, and the large radiating
surface. This engine was built in the 2? and the 5 HP sizes. It was
shipped on skids. An indication of the rugged Aermotor construction
is shown by the 600 pound shipping weight for the 2? HP and 1,000
pounds for the 5 HP model. By 1920, this style was available with
either battery or magneto ignition and was priced at $ 115.00 for
the 2? HP model or $165.00 for the 5 HP model. There were no pipe
connections to be made. The fuel tank is attached to the skid and
connected to the engine when shipped. The bore is
41/8 ‘ with a 6′ stroke, the
flywheels were 24’ in diameter at 100 pounds each.

The Gaiers’ other engine was a Bull’s Eye sideshaft made
by the Jacobson Mfg. Co. of Warren, Pennsylvania. This 2 HP Type GE
engine with serial #6437 has a Webster magneto and runs at 500
RPM.

Several times a day the 100 HP Fairbanks Diesel engine and the
55 HP Muncie oil engine owned by the club are in operation. The
1923 100 HP Fairbanks Morse diesel Model YV Type 2 cycle has a
14′ bore 17′ stroke. It weighs 20,000 pounds. The flywheel
weighs 6,000 pounds. It was originally sold to the Jackson Brick
& Hollow Ware Co., Brownstown, Indiana, and used until the last
run in 1946. It was then purchased by Tri-State in 1981, and
restored in 1982.

Among the large engines displayed was a 1906 25 HP Superior Gas
Oil Field engine which was owned by Woody Huntington of Lizton,
Indiana. I was entertained by three rather large engines puffing
out big smoke rings. The smallest engine was an 8 HP 1914
Krueger-Atlas, serial #5488, owned by Rudolph Polasek of Karnes
City, Texas. This engine was used to pump oil wells. The middle
size was a 16 HP 1915 Krueger-Atlas #5553 owned by Mike Polasek.
The largest size was a 24 HP 1907 Atlas #31782 also owned by Mike.
You have to admire exhibitors who haul these enormous engines to
shows for your enjoyment.

The Stationary Engine List site had a large showing of engines.
One hundred seventy of approximately 400 members attended. This is
the third time members have displayed at Portland. An entertaining
‘Clogging Country Cousins’ was belted to a 1927 1? HP
McCormick Deering engine. The dancers put their best feet forward
by remote control (not by the engine- looks can be deceiving!).
This unit was a favorite of young and old alike. The Munter family
from Grand Ridge, Illinois, was responsible for this ‘fun
time.’

I joined the Stationary Engine List group for a banquet at the
Back Forty to honor Brice Adams, who created the mailing list.
Everyone says that ‘engine-land has the nicest folks’-this
group would be a tribute to that saying!

The Spark Plug Collectors of America held their 25th Anniversary
Convention at their site during the show. The group displayed over
5,000 spark plugs. That’s alot of spark plugs!

If you needed parts, engines, whatever, I’m sure you could
find it here. It was great to meet some of our loyal advertisers
and show organizers. I tried to introduce myself to as many vendors
and exhibitors as possible. Located near our space were Ken &
Wendy Wolf with lots of engines to sell. Their name is associated
with the Hoosier Flywheelers Show in Peru, Indiana, now in its 10th
year. I was surprised to know that the Wolfs are the fourth
generation in their family in sawmilling. Their interest in engines
is a familiar story-exposed to engines by their parents while
attending shows. The cycle continues with their children and
grandchildren. Wendy said she enjoyed taking her children to shows.
She also noted that her daughter Pamela was the one who shows the
true interest in the business. I wouldn’t be surprised if
Pamela’s son will have his own engine to exhibit in a few
years.

The Munter family’s ‘Clogging Country Cousins’
display is shown above at the Stationary Engine List site.

Here are some statistics from the 1999 Tri-State Reunion: 280
Indiana-built engines. 2,102 engines, 85 oddball tractors. 564
other tractors, 325 garden tractors, 7 steam engines, 13 model
steam engines, 42 models, 216 other engine models, 19 antique
trucks, 27 antique cars, 441 miscellaneous. 37 states were
represented plus Canada, Australia, England, Sicily, and the
Netherlands.

Bring your walking shoes if you decide to visit this show. You
will need several days to see everything. I must admit that I was
overwhelmed by the enormous display of engines. I didn’t know
what to look at first, so I had to plan some kind of strategy to
use my time wisely. Our space was located in the very back of the
engine flea market, so needless to say, we had a hike to many of
the other areas. I now know why these exhibitors and vendors create
all kinds of ‘transportation’ on the grounds. By the way, I
think the one I enjoyed the most was the traveling picnic table
with the crew enjoying their dinner. What an effortless way to see
the show and chow down on some food without wasting any valuable
time! This was creativity at its best! My biggest problem was
getting my bearings as to where I wanted to go. I’m sure Alan
King of King’s Books could attest to my problem since he had to
point the way more than once, to my embarrassment! Well, I’ve
had my maiden voyage with Portland. Next year I will be ready! Stop
by our tent to visit with my husband Ken and me. We promise to have
a seat waiting in a shady area.

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