A Dutch gas engine adventure
We attended the 1998 Internationale Stationaire Motoren Show at Nuenen, The Nethelands, - a premier showcase of European gas engines. We took 'The Mascot,' a model engine driving a pump which is a freehand model fabricated from stock materials. 'Mascot' derives from 'Mason Cottage Industries' me and my backyard workshop! Mascot is conveniently car-boot (trunk)-portable, and many a happy hour was spent prior to the event making a transport-cum-display box for it as the sense of anticipation built up for this fantastic antique gas engine show.
Six hours from Harwich and via the excellent Dutch road system and we were there to find Walter Van Gulik and his equally energetic and enthusiastic co-organizers Anton Van De Cruijsen and Gerrit Jonker, together with their wives, sons and daughters, busily involved, with quite a lot happening even as the sun began to set. Overall, a unique blend of informality and organization prevailed. A very nice site, adjacent to De Boshoevean excellent establishment serving equally excellent beer, where an evening meal had been laid on at the very modest cost of 25 guilders with (basic but adequate) bed and breakfast at the same price. First impression we like it!
During the meal, we met English visitors from as far a field as Lancashire and Sussex. At this stage I offer a public-apology to the lady who wondered what meat we were eating. I mischievously suggested horse. Sorry Norfolk 'humor' can be slightly sick! Anyway it tasted good. I got Walter to translate my engine notice in case the only Dutchman not able to speak English turned up. He didn't!
The next day dawned bright and sunny and things got going quite early with some very exciting events. Starting a mighty National marine engine was one by backing up a tractor, and using the rear wheel as a friction drive.
Then there was the gas turbine nothing equaled it as a crowd-puller and crowd-disperser all rolled into one. Just inside the gate was a majestic Thomas-son hot bulb engine driving a vacuum pump, slower running and quieter than steam straight up! A kind of gentle sigh every five seconds or so. This is a Dutch engine made in Arnhem, which is quite near the rally site and the makers are still in business.
I have three outstanding memories the variety and rarity of many exhibits, the generally superb standard of restoration and the friendliness of the people. We had literally hours of really interesting conversation and made many new friends. We met the Juffer family who exhibited a pair of highly unusual Swedish Krimo two-strokes fitted with crossheads a-la-steam. We met Otfried Muller from southern Germany who is looking for small (he emphasized small), engines for his collection. Anyone prepared for a sad farewell in exchange for a wad of DM, please contact me and I'll put you in touch.
We met the exhibitor of a superb model of an Otto vertical driving a pump his model was to Mascot what Dutch roads are to English ones! We asked his advice on what to see in the few spare hours on our return journey. The response came from a lady bystander who apologized (quite unnecessarily) for intruding and went off to find her husband. We had met Adrie and Jean Oosvogels and their two young sons very fortunate event for us. Our map was duly marked, we said 'tot zeins' and looked forward to the next day, having received the mother of all plaques all eight inches of it an item to treasure.
Arriving next day at Adrie's car repair shop to a warm welcome, we saw a magnificent collection of stationary engines and other items including yet another crosshead engine with hot plate ignition, which was locally built and started first time for us, having last run some 12 months previously. We saw the boys' collection of military artifacts, and made friends with a very cuddle-some pet black rat, before traveling in convoy the short distance into Belgium where yet another treat awaited.
De Bakkersmolen (The Bakery Mill) consists of a real brick tower windmill built to an absolutely authentic standard by the proprietor Mr. De. Medts-Maas in 1981, together with a bakery producing a wide variety of delicious items, all combined with a live museum, mainly steam, but including literally hundreds of rare and interesting mechanical devices from models to giants, all restored to an exceptional standard, including a railroad and three locomotives. The bakery is powered on open days by a 1903 Marshall portable steamer which was still warm from the previous day. At this stage it dawned on us that Mr. De Medts-Maas had opened up just for us Adrie and Jean had fixed it!
The bakery and museum are open weekends, entry is free but visitors are invited to buy bakery products. We did delicious! Don't miss this if in the vicinity or make a special journey it's worth it. Location is St. Janstraat 238, Essen-Wildert, Belgium, telephone (03) 677-22-67. Group visits (minimum 20 people) can be arranged on 10 days advance telephone booking. A further slight detour to see a steam roundabout in the course of rebuild with Adrie's help and we reluctantly took our leave, reaching the Ferry terminal with about ten minutes in hand!
All-in-all a most memorable trip influenced to a high degree by the friendliness and kindness of all the people we met. Thanks a million! In particular we want to thank the Oostvogel family by finding their boys some WW1 and 2 military relics, for their collection.