A Trip To The Buckley Show
Rockford, Michigan email: email@example.com
My wife Shirley and I went to the Buckley, MI show for the day.
What a fantastic show it was. We were up at 4:30 a.m. left at 5:30
and arrived at the showgrounds about 7:30 a.m. It was about 45
degrees F and the fog was just lifting. You could smell the steam
engines cooking already. Not many people were out and about, so we
took that opportunity to see some of the buildings on the grounds.
We walked past some old cars, a Rambler, Model A, T, and
First building we came to was called the power plant and machine
shop. A beautiful old fire truck was in there. Detail like I’ve
never seen, there was even pin striping on the ax handles, and the
chrome on the engine was like a mirror. Wow! Then in one half of
this building was old shop equipment. Belt driven lathes, surface
grinders, drill presses, wooden pulleys, line shafting all over the
place. I think they will be getting an old machine shop going in
this building. On the other half was this big 6 cylinder
Westinghouse diesel engine that was up on blocks, and you could see
underneath it. They were pouring a new foundation underneath it. No
flywheel on it, but looked to be about 6 to 8 feet by the depth of
the pit. Across the path was the steam building.
The steam building was very warm and welcoming on the chilly
morning. There were a couple vertical steam engines just a little
taller than I am. One was running right along, powering a generator
and some lights. There were two steam driven pumps in there that
were just amazing. One pumps 750 gallons a minute and another in
the back pumps 1000 gallons A MINUTE! It must have stood 8 feet
tall and 15 feet long. There were a few big horizontal steam
engines and one 250 HP Corliss. That one must of had a flywheel ten
feet in diameter. Very cool. Quite a few others along the perimeter
walls. And all of them hooked up and looked ready to run.
We left there and passed through the engine area as it
hadn’t awakened and been uncovered quite yet. We checked out
the petting zoo with some chickens, kittens, rabbits, a calf,
little piggies, a goat, and two sheep. Then went into the oil well
pumping exhibit building. There was a 25 HP Superior in there
belted up to a huge horizontal pulley, maybe 15 to 20 feet
diameter. Just under the pulley was an eccentric, that a bunch of
rods would have hooked to, and some rods were a mile long, it said.
Each rod went to an oil well to pump the oil. I’ve only read
about the descriptions on the SEL, neat to really see one.
We walked through the tractor and steam traction engine area.
There were two amazing tractors there. A Flour City and an Aultman
Taylor, they each must have stood 15 feet tall with 8 to 10 foot
diameter rear wheels. Later in the day we got to see the starting
procedure of these two beasties. That was great! There was also a
huge Avery steam engine that was different from any I’ve seen
around here. The engine was under the boiler. The boiler was way up
in the air.
Then we walked past the blacksmith shop and talked with a nice
young guy who was hammering away in there. The building next to the
blacksmith was the harness makers shop. Watched a guy working with
some pretty thick leather. Sure smelled good in there. Mmmmm. Asked
a few questions and learned a little bit. Next door in the same
building was a print shop. I guess they just got it running a
couple days before. The guy running the old press told us how they
make the little print pads. Also showed how they are centered in
this frame and these spacer blocks and wedges are used to hold the
pad tight in the frame. It was slowed down quite a bit and was
operated at a leisurely pace. Lots of moving parts and neat to
watch. He had a lot of different pads and had free samples for
people to grab. Very informative.
Came up on a huge steam train that was giving rides. This was so
cool. We didn’t go on the ride, as the line was always lengthy
throughout the day. I’ve been told by numerous people afterward
that it’s well worth the wait. I’m kicking myself now, but
next year I’ll be on that train for sure! I did stand there
quite a while and listen to the rhythmic hisses, clanks, and
thumps. Watched as it left the station. Insert big smile here.
Walked over and watched the saw mill and a 77 HP, vertical,
single cylinder, hot head, oil engine thumping along. Must have
stood 8 to 10 feet in height. The engine man was checking the
temperature of the head, the coolant temperature, oil flow pumping
in the oiler deal. He was pretty close to this huge rocking
monster. Lucky dog! Then onto the veneer mill. This was neat to
see. They took a log about 3 to 4 feet long and put it in this mill
that looked like lathe on steroids. The log gets hoisted up and
placed horizontally in the mill. From each end the shafts are
pushed into the log. Then it starts rotating by flat belt drive and
tractor. A long cutting blade starts advancing, with a screw,
toward the log. It shaved off the most beautiful looking veneer.
Huge lengths of it, too. Sometimes the ladies pulling and guiding
the veneer out of the mill could get it 15 feet long. Then they
would break it up into about 4 foot rolls for the public to take.
Had a big pile of it, too.
There was building with a foundry in it and the two guys running
it were making aluminum bells. They were mixing black sand, 180
grit I think, with some clay and water. Placed the bell for a
pattern upside down in a wooden box with a hole cut in the bottom
the same diameter as the bell, so the bell sat down in the box.
Fill the bell up and then some and pack the bottom of the mold
first. Turn it right side up. Sprinkle a little magic powder
around. This was so the two halves would separate (parting line).
Then he packed the top half of the mold. Poked down to the bell and
made a hole with a couple of tools. (The hole is for pouring the
liquid aluminum in later.) He then separated the two halves where
the magic powder was. Pretty neat. He would then carefully take out
the bell for a pattern then gently put the two halves back together
again. The next guy would take them and pour the liquid aluminum
down into the hole and let it cool. Then he’d cut the blob off
the top of the bell. I learned so much watching this process. The
whole building was laid out great, too.
We looked through most of the buildings, and it looked like the
engine area was busy by this time. It was also lunch time. We
quickly grabbed a few hamburgers from the VFW booth pulled up a
couple milk crates in the shade behind the booth we were
stylin’. Burgers were quite tasty by the way. Lots of engines
running, steaming and some pulling a full boil. Drag saws were
cutting wood. Engines were powering a lathe, steel cut off saw,
water pumps, air compressors, burr mills, and home made
contraptions. Hercules, Associated, Economy, IH ‘M,’ Titan,
Famous, Alamo, scale models, old out board motors, Briggs, Clinton,
Maytags, engines I never heard of. There was even a little marine
engine running with a screen cooled tank, water was even steamy.
First time I’ve heard/seen one running and it sounded
In the middle of looking over the engine area we met up with a
few SEL members at Alan Bowen’s display site. Jim Dunmyer, Gary
Epps and his wife Carol, Alan Bowen had a lot of his family set up
there and must have had over 100 running feet of display, even had
a covered wagon there. Spent over an hour chatting and then
continued on. Parade started at three and we watched that for over
an hour. Wife wanted to see the flea market area. After doing what
I wanted all morning and afternoon I figured I’d better agree.
This area was simply overwhelming. We could have spent the entire
day in the flea market area alone. So many rows, long rows, at
least 30, and seemed to go on and on. We spent a couple hours in
there and didn’t even cover but four rows, I think. Then while
typing this up this morning I see on the little map that we missed
ALOT of stuff. Didn’t have time to stand and watch the Prony
brake, rock crusher, wood working, plowing exhibit, shingle mill,
bowl mill, and who knows what else.
Oh, I almost forgot the whistle tower. It’s about 20 feet
tall with about 1 5 or more steam whistles on it. There are long
strings that go up to the valves on the whistles. They let kids
pull the strings too. These aren’t those annoying whistles you
always hear on the steam engines that go toot toot and tweet tweet,
these are a REAL man’s whistle. These are about 1 to 2 foot
tall, 10 to 12 inches diameter, and when these go off . . . hold
onto something solid cause you’ll be vibrating all over. Some
of them let out this low, full, solid wall of rumbling … it is
just awesome. Huge clouds of steam gas making the entire top of the
tower disappear. I don’t think I could smile any bigger,
standing there shaking my head, lump in throat. Very very
Next year we gotta go for more than one day.
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