FLORIDA FLYWHEELERS

By Staff
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Editor, Florida Flywheelers, Bon Creek Ranch, 6795 58th Avenue,
N., St. Petersburg, Florida 33709

We believe the Florida Flywheelers Antique Engine Club is a
little different in lots of ways from most of the other fine engine
groups in the U.S., and we’d like to tell you about
ourselves.

You know, in Florida, because of the weather, the ‘enginitis
bug’ never dies down in the Winter as it does in colder areas
of the country.

Once a month, all year round, on a given Sunday, you can find
anywhere from 50 to 100 of us at a Flywheeler club meeting, running
all kinds of engines. Our members own some mighty fine gas and
steam and hot air models, and many, many gas engines of varying
make and horsepower, plus lots of tractors, a couple of Rumelys, a
couple of steam engines (Nichols & Shepard and plus some
handsome fair-sized’ diesels. Naturally, the larger pieces are
not so easily transported and you are more apt to see those when
their owner is host at a monthly meet.

Our monthy meets! Now that’s a real nice
feature of our club. Our monthly meetings are held in various parts
of the state at a member’s home, or at a nearby park, ranging
from the cities of Moore Haven and Clewiston on the famous Lake
Okeechobee in South Florida, on up to picturesque Merritt Island in
the shadow of Cape Canaveral, and on over to Oklawaha in the edge
of the Ocala National Forest-just wherever we’re invited.
Hosting is voluntary and we never lack for invitations. Sometimes,
we’re booked a year ahead.

The format of our monthly meetings in unique in that we have
only one business meeting per year, a BIG one, and the rest of the
meetings are purely serious engine running and socializing. If we
absolutely need to, our officers and directors may call a 20 minute
meeting, but are soon back with their engines. More lately, for the
past couple of years, our meetings have been two-day affairs. We
take our campers and go on Saturday and thus get an early start on
running engines and horse trading, socializing, or whatever. Some
folks without campers, will come on Saturday and spend the night in
a focal motel. Saturday night is pretty informal, but mostly we all
share our supper and sit around and enjoy our mild southern nights,
(mostly!!) On Sunday, there is a community covered dish mid-day
dinner, and hosts provide beverages and some great treats. You can
best believe we’ve had some grand old-fashioned
dinner-on-the-grounds type meals, too, with our ladies whipping up
some pretty potent covered dishes.

Ladies! Oh Yes, I forget to mention that most wives wouldn’t
miss the meetings, and we have lots of young people and children,
too, some with their own engines.

Another difference of our club- we do not ‘put on’ a
yearly show, we ARE the show. Hardee County, Florida and the First
National Bank of Wauchula, Florida, co-sponsor the 3-day
‘PIONEER PARK DAYS’ show at Zolfo Springs in March each
year, and we are invited to participate. Although we do assist
individually in some ways, we do not in any way, plan, arrange,
advertise, or organize it. However, we feel like it is
‘our’ show. Some of you may know of Zolfo as the show that
was founded some 10 years ago by Earle Nickerson of Wauchula,
Florida, and it grew and grew! We love being there, and that’s
one time we are not different from other engine clubs. We spend
days hauling our stuff over to Zolfo each year and show off just
like the rest of you engine nuts, everywhere.

SOME STATISTICS

Our club is 6 years old and was founded by Bill and Duretta
Schneider (formerly of New York state) at the urging of a dozen or
so interested folks. Bill and Duretta were President and Editor of
the Flywheelers for 4 years. We’ve grown steadily and now have
191 members and are acquiring more and more engines and
tractors.

Our newsletter is called the ‘Engine Exhaust’ and is
issued every two months. It always contains maps and announcements
for the upcoming two club meetings as well as a review of the
happenings of the two previous meetings, plus other features. (Last
issue contained subscription information for GEM and Iron Men for
the benefit of our new members.) Since our club members are spread
out through the width and breadth of the state, we feel like our
‘newsy’ newsletter sort of holds us together-and it has.
worked that way for 6 years now.

If you were a Florida Flywheeler member during 1977, and resided
in St. Petersburg, Florida, you traveled (and hauled some of your
engines) more than 3,300 miles to the monthly meetings and three
special events during that year! Now, that’s different,
isn’t it?

All in all, despite some obvious differences, we’re not so
different from engine folks everywhere. We are proud to be a part
of this great national group, we are proud of our engines, and
think we’re lucky to have found each other.

Our one regret is that we’re SO many miles from all those
big exciting engine shows up North, although some of us do get to
one or two of them on our ‘two weeks with pay’ and, of
course, some of our retired members spend the summer up North and
get to many shows. But………let me tell you about our plans for
1979. We hope to get up a ‘caravan’ of Florida Flywheelers
and bring our campers and some of our engines up to the 1979
Tri-State show at Portland, Indiana, and then go on, as a group
over to the Mt. Pleasant Show the following weekend. Can’t you
just picture our ‘wagon train?’ We’re real excited and
hope it works out.

A few of our members also belong to Northern engine clubs, and
we now exchange club newsletters with the Berkshire Gas and Steam
Engine Association in Massachusetts. If any of you other clubs want
to exchange newsletters, get in touch. We also like to have guests
at our monthly meets, if you are visiting in Florida.

Well, that’s about it. Thanks for listening to the story of
the Florida Flywheelers, the engine club that’s a little bit
different.

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Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines