The Arizona Flywheelers spring show in Cottonwood, Ariz.,
usually provides a great exhibition and viewing of many interesting
gas engines, tractors, vintage ice cream making, models, and
farm-related antiques. A good show, indeed. But the 2001 show was
unique, setting itself apart with the Arizona Flywheelers acting as
host for the first ever Southwestern Region Hot Air Meet.
The idea for the meet was first discussed at Olaf Bjerge’s,
Lake Itasca, Minn., Hot Air Engine Exhibitors Reunion in August
2000. We thought a show for hot air engine collectors and model
makers in the Southwest was needed, and Buster Brown, Yuma, Ariz.,
took it upon himself to find a location and a host for the show.
Buster’s discussions with Gene DeCamp and the Arizona
Flywheelers were fruitful, and so it was that all hot air engine
collectors and modelers were invited to the Arizona Flywheelers
show in Cottonwood last March. The host club provided facilities,
advertising and manpower to help make the hot air engine attendees
feel welcome and comfortable.
The meet not only provided a place for hot air engine
enthusiasts to show their collections and models, it also provided
a place for enthusiasts to share experiences and information on all
facets of hot air engine history, theory, model-making, collecting
and so on. There was an unbelievable wealth of information passed
We are especially pleased with the support for the show
received, with attendees from 15 states making it to the show.
Making a special trek to Cottonwood for the meet were Bob Sier from
England, Dan and John Wiese from Canada, Jose de La Herrin from
Mexico and Ted March from Argentina. These guys didn’t just
happen to be in the area, they came specifically for the show.
Exhibitors traveled miles with their engines, including Russel
Dickey who drove all the way from New Hampshire with his 10-inch
Lowell Wagner’s Thomas & Smith hot air engine was
probably made in Chicago, but the company also had offices in New
York, N.Y. At present, it’s thought only three or four of these
Lowell also owns this Amberg, which was built in Germany around
1900 by Gasmaschinenfabrik Feil (Feil gas plant engineereing
works). Featuring a 3-3/8-inch power
cylinder, this unit saw duty in a fabric plant, where air from its
air compressor cylinders was used to dry fabric during manufacture.
Around six of these engines are known to have survived.
Russel Dickey drove all the way from New Hampshire with this
10-inch Ericsson. Its exact age is unknown, but likely it dates
from the late 1800s when hot air engines were a popular power
source for running water pumps in urban areas.
A count of hot air engines at the meet included 14 full-sized
working engines, seven medium-sized working engines, 150 toy
engines, 62 models, 22 hot air fans and two estate collections of
engines that were for sale. This will not be an annual event, and
our next Southwest Region Hot Air Meet will take place either in
2004 or 2005. As he has for the last few years, Olaf will be
holding his annual Hot Air Engine Exhibitors Reunion this coming
Aug. 16-18. Hot air engine collectors will also want to attend
Olaf’s 2003 show, which will be an international show with
collectors from England, Germany and other countries making a
special trek to the U.S. just for this show.
Special thanks to Gene DeCamp and the Arizona Flywheelers. Your
hospitality was greatly appreciated. For more pictures, visit
Buster’s web site at: www.hotairengines.com
Contact hot air engine enthusiast Lowell J. Wagner at: 8
Arroyo Bonito, Sandia Park, NM 87047-9397, (505) 281-1624, or