SPARK PLUG OF THE MONTH

By Staff
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Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana 47390.
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Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City. Indiana 47390.
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Courtesy of R. Dayton Nichols, 6128 Route 5, Stafford, New York 14143.
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Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana 47390.
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Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana 47390.

Dayton Daily News & Radio’s ‘Joe’s
Journal’

‘That fellow was born with wheels in his head,’ so they
said. But there are others who might have said, ‘He was born
with a Boyscout compass and hatchet in each hand, and a knapsack on
his back.’ Still there are those who might claim he has steam
and gas in his blood with a strong yearning to sail the seven seas
running rife through his veins. All who know him (and that’s
about everyone) revere him as a leader in the community while every
boy who ever belonged to Scout Troop 27 respects him as though he
wore an invisible halo o’er his head. An anthropologist,
analyzing his weather-lined countenance, might deem him a man of
the soil, while a genealogist, upon trying to spell his name, could
well acclaim him of most honorable French descent.

That’s Angereau–spell it if you can– Angereau McConnell of
Danville, Kentucky, hard by Atoka, just up Perryville Road a
little.

‘Yes–we all know Angereau McConnell’ they all say.
‘Lives over by ‘Toka Store, he does. And a mighty fine
fellow he is.’

To a man with steam engine oil in his blood, a ride with
Angereau on his paddlewheel steam boat up Herrington Lake might
well convince him he’s a died-in-the-wool Iron Man with
real-for-sure coal dirt and firebox soot on his hands and brow. But
a confirmed gas engine bug, foraging through his barns and sheds,
could just as well dub him a Spark Plug–and that’s where we
aim to nail him. At least till someone comes along and buys a
superb piece of his artistic wrought-iron work and calls him a
blacksmith.

At any rate, before we get any further entangled in the
intricacies of this man’s diverse talents and character traits,
we’ll stop right here and call him Spark Plug Angereau
McConnell. At least we’re on safe grounds here, even if we
can’t fathom the broad perspectives of the entire man. And if
you’re lucky enough to be invited into his home, you don’t
have to be an anthropologist, a genealogist, or even an apologist
to analyze that good old-fashioned southern Kentucky hospitality
which befuddles the brains of ‘us northerners’.

Lucky for us, it has been our pleasure and privilege to set up
Uncle Elmer’s Gas Engine Magazine dispensing constabulary
directly across from the Angereau McConnell internal-combustion
exhibits at the Blue Grass Engine Show, Harrodsburg, Ky., the first
two years of its organizational existence. Here it is that
we’ve had the opportunity to observe, first-hand, the astute
Angereau in the actual operation of a diversity of old gas engines
and antique tractors, all doing the work they were designed for
back on the farm many years ago.

What Angereau calls his ‘pride and joy’–a 2 II. P.
upright Famous International of 1905 vintage–was belted up to an
old 1883 model Ross Feed Cutter for the purpose of demonstrating
how fodder was chopped into chewable proportions for the cattle of
yesteryear.

Instead of the usual barrel-type cooling system, Angereau had
innovated an old house radiator to the front of his International
to keep the cylinder from overheating. It not only looked more
professional than a barrel but proved more efficient–almost as if
it had been a factory-engineered radiator-type cooler.

A one-and-a-half horsepower Bohon Engine, sold years ago by the
George Bohon Company Mail Order House in Harrodsburg, was belted to
an old 1877 Heelner & Sons Groundhog Thresher which Angereau
bought from an old German family over in the Knobs which are the
foothills in the lower part of Boyle County, Kentucky. They had
used it to thresh by horsepower treadmill for years and years.

Combining public service with his exhibit, McConnell displayed a
one-and-a-half horsepower John Deere Engine belted to a three-foot
grind-wheel to show how Great Grandfather used to put an edge on
his axe for felling the farm trees and chopping off the head of the
Thanksgiving turkey. Many were the menfolk who stopped by long
enough to whip out their favorite Bowie or Barlow Jacknife to whet
the blade a bit.

Angereau McConnell and his 2 HP. upright Famous International
Engine chop fodder with an old 1883 Ross Feed Cutter. One of the
outstanding exhibits at Blue Grass Show this year, Harrodsburg,
Kentucky. 

Spark Plug Angereau McConnell looks very much like the
proverbial plow-boy who ran away to become a railroader. The
40-foot, 25-ton C. & E. I. Caboose went through harried
experiences before it finally was placed on the spur of track
behind the McConnell barns. 1. to r.-Angereau McConnell and friend,
Carl Smith. 

Then there is Angereau’s ‘throne seat’ which he
always likes to bask in the warm Kentucky sun on, atop his old 1938
Huber H. K. Tractor, boasting thirty-seven and-a-half horsepower.
Loves to tinker with the carburetor so that, when he leans into the
big crank to turn the engine over, she barks right off in a
staccatto, one-two-three-four rhythm, drowning out the one-lungers
that are popping along simultaneously.

But the Huber is only one of a collection of seven old tractors
which Angereau McConnell has around the barns and sheds at
home–the others being a Model–A John Deere, a Case size C, a 1940
Model-B Allis Chalmers, a ’47 Massey Harris ’30’ and
two McCormick Deering 10-20 Tractors.

And taking up the vacuum of space between the old-time tractors
in the McConnell barns on the paternal homestead farm are the
smaller internal-combustion one-cylinder engines with such familiar
names as Mogul 8 H. P., Fairbanks Morse Model Z, 3 II. I’.,
E-conomy, 3 II. P., Nova Upright, 2 II. P., Hired Man of 2 II. P.,
Delco Light Plant and Genco Light Plant, two Briggs and Stratton
Engines of VA H. P., two Maytags, a single cylinder Sears Marine
Engine of 5 II. P., plus a generous portion of engine parts.

If a died-in-the-wool steam engine man should visit the
McConnell barns, the sight of an old 1870 McCowan Vertical Engine,
two Troy Vertical Engines of three and five horsepower
respectively, one Cretors Pop Corn Engine, a homemade steam engine
(no doubt of McConnell design and engineering) and a 1903
Locomobile Automobile Engine might cause him to dub the diversified
Angereau as truly an Iron-Man.

Should the same man, however, happen along Herrington Lake and
get a glimpse of ‘Cap’n’ McConnell cutting through the
briny deep at the helm of his homemade steam-powered launch, with
admiral’s cap ‘n all, he might well deem him a sea
farin’ admiral in the Queen’s ‘Nah-vee’. The P. S.
Voyager (Paddle Steamer Voyager), a neat, twenty-foot steamboat
with two cylinders powered directly to the rear paddle wheel, was
built and designed from stem to stern in the McConnell farm shops.
The quiet slosh of the paddle wheel digging into the waters of
Herring-ton Lake, the picturesque reciprocating steam cylinders,
the piercing whistle, all lend a most nostalgic sight whenever
‘Cap’n’ McConnell takes his Troop 27 Boy Scouts for a
cruise from King’s Mill dock down to Gwinn Island and back as a
reward for obedience and adherence to the official Scout
Manual.

But if anyone happened to be visiting the McConnell farm, and
was, perchance, invited to step up onto the platform of the big
40-foot, 25-ton C. & E. I caboose which Angereau had hauled to
a spot of track he laid, back of his barns, he might refer to our
Spark Plug as the proverbial plow-boy who left the farm and hopped
a train to live the life of a rambling railroader. The first
caboose he ordered never got there, due to vandals destroying it
before the railroad could move it off of company property. But
Angereau, having already paid for the ‘rear end of his freight
train’, was promptly reimbursed by another caboose. However,
before he came into ownership of it, vandals once again dismantled
the innards, destroying the cushions and the pot-bellied stove,
lights, etc. Still waiting for its delivery a month later, Angereau
went to investigate and discovered it had been shuttled here and
there on company tracks, winding up only a hundred yards from where
he first spotted it in the railroad yard. The understanding
railroaders located him another caboose stove and replaced it, as
well as some of the other furnishings, then finally delivered it by
low-boy to the spur of track which the indomitable Angereau had
waiting for it. Here it is that Spark Plug McConnell, President of
the ‘A. McCon & Ell Railroad’ hosts his fellow
directors of the Blue Grass Steam and Gas Engine Club, as well as
special friends, like Carl Smith, to genuine ‘crummy’
coffee ’round the old caboose pot-bellied stove. And, too, it
serves as a mighty fine reward to his faithful Boy Scouts whenever
Scoutmaster McConnell calls a special conclave of Troop 27.

However, we prefer to narrow the gap on the McConnell plug and
just call him Spark Plug of the Month, despite the fact that he
does like to ‘horse around’ the steam engines at the annual
Blue Grass Steam and Gas Engine Shows. Likewise in spite of the
fact that our camera ‘caught’ him ‘stealing’ that
big locomotive whistle from off the top of Forrest Cunningham’s
Case Steam Engine after the show was over, which he later explained
was ‘hisn’n.’

‘The junk man where I got this big whistle thought it was
some kind of a grease gun, and he couldn’t get it to shoot the
grease, so he up and gave it to me,’ chuckled Spark Plug
McConnell over his free prize–the sweetest sounding, most
melodious ‘grease gun’ any of us had ever heard, without
price tag or tax attached.

Of all his gas engines, old tractors and other antique farm
equipment, says Angereau, ‘I always restore what needs
restoring, but I never re-paint them, preferring they carry as much
of the original paint and color schemes as possible.’ A might
good way of preserving their factory authenticity. And this
includes an old four-generation double-shovel farm plow which his
great grand- father used before the Civil War on the very same farm
where Angereau’s family and his mother live in their own
respective homes. To McConnell, the old wooden threshers and feed
choppers and other equipment somehow look all the more genuinely
antique unretouched by modern paints and varnishes. And we
agree.

Wherever you go, up and down Perryville Road, or should you drop
by the Atoke country store or take that semiannual trek into the
Danville county seat courthouse to pay your taxes–the mere mention
of the Angereau McConnell name opens all doors a little wider to
all who know him. For Angereau Me-Connell has become a sort of
household legend in all these parts throughout this portion of
Kentucky-land.

‘Yes–we know Angereau McConnell–he’s such a
gentleman–a fine man,’ come the replies from both young and
old. ‘He’s a leader in our church, a scoutmaster well
loved–Angereau’s a man we can depend on.’

Spark Plug Angereau McConnell has a weakness of ‘jumping up
on a steam engine’ now and then at Blue Grass Steam and Gas
Engine Show, Harrodsburg, Ky. Camera caught him ‘stealing’
big locomotive whistle off Forrest Cunningham’s Case Engine. It
was given to him by junk man who thought it was an old grease gun
that wouldn’t work.

Knowing Angereau McConnell is the very best kind of introduction
any northerner or ‘damyankee’ visiting in these parts can
boast of. It’s like a passport to heaven, and who is to say
that beautiful Kentucky-land isn’t almost like heaven to us
visitors from the Ohio flatlands? For God surely made such as the
hospitable slate of ’01’ Kain-tuek’, and Angereau who
so well represents the good folk living there.

‘I can’t say enough good things about Angereau
McConnell,’ says Carl Secchi, President of The Blue Grass Steam
and Gas Engine Show at Harrods-burg, Ky. ‘He’s served so
excellently on our board of directors, and there’s nothing he
won’t do that needs doing.’

‘This combo Iron and Spark man is a first class ornamental
blacksmith and can make anything he desires,’ continues Secchi.
‘Resides being a member of the Kentucky Guild of Arts and
Crafts, Angereau is an outstanding scout leader and extremely
active in church circles. He has tons of good used parts from 1926
airplanes to steam and gas engines.

He will not let a fellow man go wanting.’ How well we can
testify to that–the front-support spindle of our trailer having
been damaged enroute to the Blue Grass Show this year, to the point
that we were unable to set up. And Angereau pounded the spindle
back into shape on the rim of Frank Cornish’s Keck Gonnerman
and we were soon back in business, before we knew it.

For re-capturing the old-time spirit of American agriculture,
for preserving and restoring so much of the past that is dear–the
old-time gas engines, the tractors, the steam boat and railroad
caboose–for raising your ‘family’ of fine Boy Scouts into
leading citizens over the past thirty years, and exuding that good,
old-fashioned Kentucky hospitality–we doff the old fedora as you,
Angereau, take an honored seat in our vaunted Hall of Spark Plug
Fame. We’re sure that your wife, Martha, (supervising teacher
at the Kentucky School for the Deaf), will need no special sign
language from us to agree. Neither will your daughters, Angela and
Margaret-nor your ‘sons’, the Scouts of OF
Twenty-seven.

Frank Wamock’s midget gas engines at Kinzers. He was
Elmer’s friendly neighbor. Frank is from Peoria Heights,
Illinois.

Angereau McConnell on the ‘throne seat’ of his 1938
Huber H. K. Tractor of 37? HP. at Blue Grass Steam and Gas Engine
Show.

And now, though we’ll not attempt to bribe with any further
diatribe, we hope Carl Secchi isn’t lax in awarding one of
those special Champion Spark Plug Plaques.

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