They Really Are Nuts, These Engine Nuts

By Staff
1 / 7
Six model steam engines owned by Michael Chrabaszcz of Easthampton, Mass.
2 / 7
Harry Ziegler of Sandisfield, Mass.- 'working' models adorn his van
3 / 7
Ernie Darrow of N. Franklin, Conn.-trying to keep warm as he watches over his collection.
4 / 7
Jim Stevens of Valley Falls, NY astride his homemade tractor, powered by a 1 HP Hercules.
5 / 7
Doug Wood's 1 HP London.
6 / 7
Part of Ed Strepka's pump collection. Ed: 'I have 80 more at home; I've been collecting for 17 years.'
7 / 7
All of that came out of that one little pickup truck? Yup! And Weston Ball of Bernardston, Mass, is known among his fellow exhibitors for his ability to stow away more engines in his truck than deemed possible.

3 Washington Street, Brattleboro, Vermont 05301

You may wish to publish this particular article as an
exceedingly biased editorial:

My Premise: As an engine widow/-wife, I have now learned quite
resoundingly what I strongly suspected from the start of my
husband’s interest in this hobby of collecting, restoring and
exhibiting gas and steam engines. Every man, woman and child
involved in this hobby is crazy! My case:

Background: Early in 1987 a small group of men in the
Brattleboro, Vermont area started a new engine club: The Green
Mountain Flywheelers Association. The club’s officers are: Doug
Wood, (pictured on the next page), Steve Howe, vice-president;
Gordon Woffenden, secretary.

Quite ambitiously, this new club sponsored two shows their first
year. The first show was held on a balmy weekend in April of 1987
at a small field adjacent to an antique center just north of
Brattleboro. Twenty-five exhibitors displayed their engines and
enjoyed a pleasant two-day show.

In September of 1987 the Green Mountain Flywheelers held a
second show and doubled the number of exhibitors to fifty-one. The
second show was held at the Guilford Fairgrounds, somewhat off the
beaten path and in competition with many popular local events. Even
so, the response from exhibitors and spectators alike was very
enthusiastic. In addition to gas and steam engines, an antique auto
club from Greenfield, Massachusetts brought cars to display and
there were several old-time tractors as well.

One would have to admit that this is not a bad record for a
first-year club! Though it may be a bit over-zealous for a club to
do TWO shows their first year, I can hear you readers saying to
yourselves that I have not yet made a case for outright nuttiness.
Bear with me:

The Crux of the Matter: In 1988 the club held their April show
on the 16th and 17th. Another Balmy April engine show? You bet!
Only this time it wasn’t the weather that was balmy- it was
these engine nuts! April in Vermont, you see, is somewhat
unpredictable. It can be lovely. It can be-not so lovely.

At my house the first clue of trouble was looking out the window
at 6 a.m. on the morning of the show to see a dark and cloudy sky
spitting snow. Then the chuck wagon man called to say it was
snowing hard where he lived and we weren’t still having the
show, were we? What could we do? We trudged disconsolately up to
the showgrounds. For what? To pick up the stakes? Weep a
little?

They had already begun to arrive, these nuts! Nearly all of them
had traveled through snow. Dick Allen came over the mountains from
Troy, New York. John Tucker came up from Canterbury, Connecticut.
Stan Clem and his wife from Sunapee, New Hampshire just hoped it
wouldn’t be snowing quite so hard in Brattleboro. From
Arlington, Vermont and Leominster, Massachusetts they came; from
Johnsonville, New York and Walpole, New Hampshire. Trudelles from
Marlow, New Hampshire-Larry, Charlotte and daughter Laurie,
collectors all- wouldn’t miss the first show of the season no
matter WHAT the weather! Sixty-one strong they came!

Ironically, though it was snowing all around, nothing
accumulated in Brattleboro and the sun finally broke through.
Though Saturday was bitter cold, Sunday had the warmth of an early
spring day.

Do you begin to see what I mean, though? None of these
exhibitors knew what the weather would be like when they arrived. I
suspect they would have set up even if it HAD been snowing in
Brattleboro. We were only a very small accident of weather away
from THIS picture: exhibitors contentedly settling lawn chairs into
six inches of white stuff, flywheels tossing snowballs in the air,
spouses shivering in truck cabs, passers-by scratching their heads
in bewilderment.

Check it out in April of 1989- that may be just what you see
when the Green Mountain Flywheelers Association holds its next
show!

The accompanying photographs- by Dee. McBride and myself-will
give you some of the highlights of the fine machinery displayed at
the September ’87 and April ’88 shows.

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines