Tennessee Valley Flywheelers Fifth Show

By Staff
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Windmill--part of Sam Lowrey's display from Rome, Georgia, shown in Knoxville last October.
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Beautiful restored tractors from Maryville, Tennessee.
3 / 6
20 HP South Penn, shown by Mr. Reece of Kentucky.
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9 HP Galloway 1916 vintage owned by George Lett.
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George Lett's restored model 'A' with hit & miss in back.
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Coffee grinding on a large scale.

7828 Old Dixie Highway, Spring City, Tennessee 37381

It was a beautiful weekend with just a hint of fall in the air.
A few brightly colored leaves were finding their way to the ground.
This was Knoxville, Tennessee, on October 16, 17 and 18 of 1998.
Knoxville is the home of the Vols University of Tennessee, and it
lies almost in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains. Here is
where the Holston and French Broad Rivers meet to form the
Tennessee. From this point the Tennessee starts its 650-mile flow
to the Ohio River. When at Knoxville, I was in the ‘Tennessee

After taking exit 8 off of Rt. 640, I came to the Knox County
Farmers Market. I was met with an array of orange and all other
colors of fall as they were gearing up for the children and the
Pumpkin Festival the next day. Then I noticed still another array
of colors just to the right of the pumpkin area. The bright red,
green, blue and orange of tractors, and engines with spoked
flywheels, met my eye. I had arrived at the fifth annual show of
the Tennessee Valley Flywheelers and I was soon in a sea of
spinning flywheels and tall tractor tires.

Over the aroma of new tires and engine exhaust, I kept noticing
another faint aroma. This one beckoned me to follow, and I soon
found the source at the ‘Flywheel Cafe.’ A wood-burning
range with many old kitchen utensils were being used by ladies in
long dresses and bonnets as they served biscuits, sausage, gravy
and coffee. On the stove was a huge pot of soup simmering for the
noon meal. Beans and cornbread were also slated for lunch. This
took me back to the days when the thrasher went from farm to farm
and the farmer’s wives got together to cook a feast.

It is said that behind every successful man is a working woman.
This saying is so true for a successful club also, and at this
event this was very evident as the club ladies staffed the cafe,
the nurse’s station, registration, the gate, and many other
chores, so the men could tend to their engines, tractors and other

After fortifying myself with goodies from the cafe, I started
looking at the exhibits. Molasses was being made, corn was being
ground into meal, coffee beans were being turned into useable
coffee, a shingle mill was turning out cedar shakes, and most were
using antique power.

The Eclipse windmill (also called wind engine in earlier times)
drew a lot of attention. Here in East Tennessee we just don’t
have many windmills and to see one working, pumping water, was
quite a novelty. I overheard one man jokingly remark, ‘It is a
good thing there is only one windmill here, as there isn’t
enough wind to run two mills.’

The 1910 pattern lathe, belted to an ‘A’ Farmall, was
turning out cedar walking sticks continually, all just like the
‘twist shape’ pattern.

Periodically a blast from a train whistle, or the clanging of a
bell, reminded people of the large railroad exhibit on the north
end. A working Delco electric system caught my eye as the little
engine drank the kerosene and turned it into electrical energy to
run the pump, fan and lights. This display had been put together
and shown by a man from Kentucky, now deceased. I know he would
have been proud that his son and grandson were continuing this in
his honor. Several displays of old tools gave notice of how far our
tool technology has come. Scattered throughout were small model
engines running along smoothly, both gas and steam.

I would not attempt to list all of the tractors but I saw some
of the best restored tractors I have ever encountered. From these
to the still rusty steel wheelers gave one a good picture of what
our fathers and grandfathers used as ‘state of the art’ in
their day, to get away from the horse. In East Tennessee it would
more likely have been the ‘mule.’

Everywhere you looked were vendors, so you could buy about
anything from coils to manuals, oilers to tractor tires, small
engines to antiques to help in our quest to restore.

The walk-behind tractors made a good showing, as did the lawn
mowers of days gone by. A Maytag powered can crusher of the drop
hammer type, complete with a feed conveyor, made quick work of
smashing drink cans, much to the delight of the crowd.

I was thrilled and amazed at the engines, from the little
Briggs, Clintons and Maytags to the large 15 and 20 HP oil field
giants that sounded like light artillery when they fired. A little
Stover ‘V’ one HP was running so quietly that you just
couldn’t hear it. One engine was riding and running in the back
of a restored Model A pickup. Trailers with two to five running
engines seemed to be everywhere, and several were for sale. There
were a lot of unusual and hard-to-find engines displayed. One thing
for sure, the boys at this show knew how to make their engines run
and they sure didn’t mind letting them spin. There is something
about an antique engine running that brings out the mechanic or
awareness of physics in us all, a little. To know this same
principle, refined and improved, is what brought us all to this
place with never a thought of the power plant under the hood and
with our biggest concern to adjust the air and radio just right,
speaks well of our engineers and technology.

There were exhibitors from Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio,
North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Illinois, Virginia and
Texas to make up well over one hundred exhibits. There were 54
tractors and 71 engines registered. This engine number would make
one smile as those engine boys came to show and run their engines.
To be asked to do some paperwork, to them, is a waste of time, so
many only registered one or two when they had maybe five running on
their trailer. There were many more than 71 engines.

This was a time and place you could get lost in the past,
whatever your interest might be, a place of friendly people willing
to help, show or answer any questions you might have. This was a
weekend that passed too swiftly.

On behalf of the Tennessee Valley Fly-wheelers I would like to
extend a cordial invitation for you to join us in 1999 for our
Spring Swap Meet, and for our Fall Show on October 15, 16, and 17.
For more information, please contact Lamar Hinds (423) 966-4486 or
Benny Slagle (423)-523-7477.

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