Time Warp Occurs At Batsto!

By Staff
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Fish Scull and Les Raines with an 8 HP 1910 Simplicity hit 'n miss.
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Believed to be the control panel of Bill's time machine.
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'Greenhouse' John and 1919 5 HP Economy.

130 Serpentine Drive, Bayville, New Jersey 08721

Visitors and exhibitors who participated in the Country Living
Fair at Batsto State Park last October were witness to a most
unusual phenomenon Time Travel! What follows is an actual
eyewitness account.

It all started when Bill Hyers, past president of the Pinelands
Gas Engine Association, pulled into the show area bright and early
that Sunday morning. Bill always has something new and unusual to
display each year, so we were not surprised to see a new
contraption on his trailer. As we helped him unload this gizmo we
could not imagine what it was. I can only describe it as big and
shiny with two seats and with a lot of important looking levers,
dials, bells, and whistles. Not wanting to reveal our ignorance, we
kept our ponderings to ourselves, but finally curiosity got the
best of us and we asked Bill what it was. He replied that it was
the world’s first successful time machine and that he was going
to demonstrate time travel to the public.

They wheeled the First-Aid vehicles into the park about 10
minutes later, because two of our group complained about chest
pains from laughing so hard. Of course, we cannot be blamed for
laughing, because everyone knows that your common garden variety
time machine requires a very large power source such as a lightning
storm, gamma rays, or a nuclear power reactor. Bill’s time
machine, however, was belted up to a 2 HP 1912 Snort & Wheezer
that looked to be in questionable mechanical condition. Poor Bill
took a lot of ribbing for the next few minutes but insisted that it
was a genuine time machine and that he had been secretly taking
about one trip a week in it for the past year.

At this point opinion concerning Bill’s sanity was pretty
evenly split among those present. Defenders said that his time
travel theory was plausible, because how else could one explain his
amazing collection of antique engines and toy trucks? He must have
‘gone back to get ’em’! Detractors said that all those
years Bill spent running an auto body business had taken their toll
and he had fallen victim to ‘lacquer thinner burnout.’

By now Bill was red faced and determined to convert us all into
believers, and so he set about to starting the time machine. He
made a few adjustments and began to crank her over. Bill spent the
next half hour with a crowd around him trying to ‘raise the
dead,’ but no matter what he tried, that engine wouldn’t
start. At this point we offered our help, because there wasn’t
a man among us who didn’t want to see Bill disappear in a puff
of smoke.

About this time, one of Bill’s friends removed the gas cap
and took a whiff. ‘There’s your problem, Bill,’ he
gasped, ‘the gas in the tank is stale.’ He verified the
diagnosis by inserting a stick into the tank and removing a glob
about the consistency of molasses. Suddenly, Bill  jumped up
and exclaimed, ‘There! That proves it! My time machine
works!’ Bill saw from the looks on our faces that further
explanation was needed, so he proceeded to relate his time travel
experience just a week prior.

It was a Saturday morning and as usual he had the time machine
set up and ready to go. Donning his flying cap and goggles, he
fired up the engine, climbed aboard, advanced to full throttle, and
shifted into reverse. In an instant, the time machine threw him
back to 1933 which was just about where (or should I say when) he
wanted to be. He had become quite accurate from practice and landed
in a farmer’s back yard. When the farmer came out of the barn
to see what the commotion was all about, Bill introduced himself
and explained that he was looking for used gas engines, and might
the farmer have any that he would be willing to sell. The farmer
said that he had a side shaft Domestic that he would part with for
$10.00. Now, since inventing a successful time machine, Bill rarely
spends more than $5.00 for an engine, but since this one was kind
of special, a deal was struck.

Bill reached for his wallet, but when he opened it he realized,
much to his embarrassment, that he had forgotten to bring any extra
cash. Being a ’90s kind of guy, Bill asked the farmer if he
would accept plastic. Since plastic would not be invented for a few
more years, the farmer politely but firmly declined, and, of
course, a postdated check was absolutely out of the question. Bill
said that it was no problem, he would be right back with the cash.
It was at this moment that Bill experienced a time traveler’s
worst nightmare The Snort and Wheezer sputtered and died!

Initially panic set in, but not for long because our hero soon
found the cause of the problem. He was out of gas. Fortunately he
did have some pocket change and asked the farmer if he could buy a
gallon or so, just enough to get back home. The farmer, justifiably
cautious by now, nonetheless agreed and proceeded to fill the tank
for a quarter.

This did the trick and the engine was quickly up and running.
Unfortunately for Bill, the farmer took too close a look at the
quarter that Bill had given him. The future date didn’t bother
him, but doggone it, no genuine U.S. quarter would have copper in
the middle of it! With the farmer now thinking that he had been
swindled, Bill’s common sense told him that it would-be best to
beat a hasty retreat and not return. He jammed the lever forward
and snapped back to the present. In the week that followed, Bill
had completely forgotten about the gas that the farmer had sold him
which was of course now over 60 years old, and as thick as

After hearing this explanation, we held out little hope for
Bill. There is often a fine line that defines the border between
inventive genius and lunacy. Sad to state we could not determine on
which side of that line Bill was currently standing, however we had
always known him to be a rather harmless fellow so we decided to
let him spend the rest of the morning tinkering with his

Now it is, at this point, that events become somewhat unclear,
but all we remember next was Bill running toward us pointing to his
wristwatch and shouting, ‘There, I told you so! I was only able
to get the engine to fire twice, but look, it’s now 4
p.m.!’ We were absolutely stunned! With much humility we had to
concede that Bill’s time machine was indeed a success. It
wasn’t until we were nearly packed up and ready to leave that
the realization set in. Hey! This happens every year at Batsto!

And that, Dear Reader, is the point of this fancy yarn time
flies when you’re having fun, and the Batsto Country Living
Fair is the best place to prove it. So mark your calendar for
Sunday, October 15, 1995 and come experience time travel with us.
For more information, see the 1995 Steam and Gas Show Directory
under the listings for New Jersey. If you wish to exhibit, write to
me at the above address, or phone 908-269-6580.

In closing, we wish to thank Bill Hyers, the target of our
verbal darts, for being such a good sport. As a charter member and
the first president of the Pinelands Gas Engine Association, it was
Bill’s strength of character and personal commitment that
inspired the rest of us lazy louts to actually form a club. We are
forever in his debt.

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