Everything I Need to Know About My Old Iron Hobby I Learned from Kindergarten

By Staff

914 Johnson Creek Walton, West Virginia 25286

Having Madison, my six year old engine buddy, attending
kindergarten, and reading the article on ‘Everything I Ever
Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten’ by Robert Fulghum, I
thought how following the kindergarten rules would improve our gas
engine hobby enjoyment and help involve others.

‘Show and Tell’

Madison regularly takes pictures, toys or other interesting
items to classes to ‘Show and Tell.’ The key lesson is,
take something interesting to see and something to talk about. Our
club shows and our individual displays should ‘show and

We must remember that not all attendees are old iron nuts or
have any knowledge of our hobby and its place in history.

We should ‘show’ our items to their best advantage.

1. Have your power plaything operating if possible, because many
people have never seen an old tractor, engine or steam engine
operate and will be fascinated by its parts and motions and can
learn by watching.

2. Have your power plaything ‘do something.’ I have, at
shows, seen power pumping water, washing clothes, sawing lumber and
shingles, grinding corn meal, wheat threshing, producing electric,
compressed air, fans, and pop can crushers. A crowd will gather
around a power unit doing something, even if it is only turning a
machine with a best. Remember, many onlookers have never seen
anything other than a lawn mower do work, and that any other
machine is a new experience. Your ‘do something’ can be as
simple as a belt driven generator powering lights, fans, etc. water
pump pumping water from a dishpan into a fountain, model power toys
driven by a string off an engine crankshaft. Let your imagination
go wild, be creative.

We should ‘tell’ at our show.

1. Explaining your exhibit’s use, features, age will help
others learn and appreciate our ancestors’ ingenuity and

2. Use posters, sales ads, photos reprints etc. to show your
exhibit at work if it is not possible to operate your exhibit at
the show, or to further explain its history, use, etc. Before and
after pictures add to your exhibit, and show your efforts and work.
Consider a sign, handout or pamphlet for your show or exhibit.
After years of operating portable grist mills at an art and craft
fair and hearing parents explain the process to their children that
‘corn goes in here and meal comes out there,’ we developed
a one page pamphlet that simply explains the milling process that
cannot be seen while operating. Remember, you may be the only one
in the crowd who knows what is happening and why, so ‘tell

‘Listen When Someone Else Is Talking’

One of my father’s favorite lessons is, ‘You can’t
learn when you are doing the talking.’ Like kindergartners, we
should listen when someone is talking.

Many times others have valuable information about our hobby or
your particular engine or its use in their remembrance, if you
first take time to listen and then record or write down what you

One time an elderly gentleman approached me and reminisced about
cutting timber to produce wooden barrel staves. He had valuable
information that I listened to, but it went in one ear and out the
other. Later, I could not remember the specifics. What a difference
a note pad and pen would make now! Carry paper and pen, video
camera or tape recorder with you at shows. So listen and learn for
yourself, and for others as well. Who knows when you may learn
something of value, local history, farming or engine tales, paint
colors, repair tips, etc., to preserve and pass on.


In school we learn to share, because we have to. In our hobby we
should share because we want to.

1. Share your knowledge and skills with others! Remember, once
you were starting out and how hard it was to learn without
others’ help. Help young people get started in our hobby. A
friend of mine at engine shows spends more time helping tinker on
others’ troublesome engines than petting his own smooth running
stock. But he gets much satisfaction by helping others.

2. Share your information, sources, photos with others. Get
double prints of your show photos and share. Tell others where you
got your decal, parts, paint, literature etc. to help them.

3. Share your bits, pieces and extra play toys so others can
enjoy our hobby. Is it really true that the person with the most
parts and exhibits wins? A late friend always seemed to have a
‘starter’ engine for a new engineer at a fair price and
always enjoyed helping another engine person get a start. Food for

Yes, lessons learned in our youth will serve our hobby and
ourselves well. The general public would benefit if we would act
like a kid. But always remember, PLAY SAFE! Use fences, plexiglass
guards, signs to protect others who don’t know gears pinch and
belts grab fingers, sleeves, etc. Always have a first aid kit and
fire extinguisher handy, just in case!

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