The Tri-State Gas Engine & Tractor Association held their 34th Anniversary Reunion on August 25-29, 1999, at the Jay County Fairgrounds in Portland, Indiana. They state in their ad that they are the 'World's Largest Gas Engine & Tractor Show' - I would say, 'They're right!'
One of the first displays that caught my attention was an Eclipse engine and a Bessemer engine. I met Shorty O'Rourke of Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, who owned the 4 HP Eclipse engine serial #2068, pictured below. This engine was made by the Luther Manufacturing Co. of Olean, New York. It had been used as an oil well engine. The 2 HP Bessemer engine with serial #A814 was built by the Bessemer Gas Engine Co., Grove City, Pennsylvania. It was hooked up to a pump built by the Co-lumbiana Pump Co., Ohio, with Patent 1907. The engine ran at 650 RPM. This engine was displayed on black walnut skids as shown below. I was surprised to find out this engine was owned by Shorty's 14-year old nephew Doug Mixter, also from Coraopolis. He received this engine for a Christmas present when he was just 11 years old.
A 1905 4 HP Jacobson side shaft was beautifully restored by Carl Stewart of Owenton, Kentucky. This engine was manufactured in Warren, Pennsylvania. It took Carl seven years to buy this engine.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Evelyn & Art Gaier of Versailles, Ohio, acquaintances from the 1995 GEM European tour. The Gaiers have been dedicated exhibitors at the Tri-State show for 28 years. They were exhibiting their 2? HP Aermotor general purpose engine with a fluted cooler. The Aermotor was built by the Aermotor Co., located in Chicago, Illinois. This fluted hopper engine was Aermotor's most attractive engine style. It was protected by Patent No. 987,177 of 1911. Hopper cooling does away with the large water tank and the troublesome pipe connections. There is only one fluted sheet steel hopper-which is found on the Aermotor. There are thin walls between the water and air, and the large radiating surface. This engine was built in the 2? and the 5 HP sizes. It was shipped on skids. An indication of the rugged Aermotor construction is shown by the 600 pound shipping weight for the 2? HP and 1,000 pounds for the 5 HP model. By 1920, this style was available with either battery or magneto ignition and was priced at $ 115.00 for the 2? HP model or $165.00 for the 5 HP model. There were no pipe connections to be made. The fuel tank is attached to the skid and connected to the engine when shipped. The bore is 41/8 ' with a 6' stroke, the flywheels were 24' in diameter at 100 pounds each.
The Gaiers' other engine was a Bull's Eye sideshaft made by the Jacobson Mfg. Co. of Warren, Pennsylvania. This 2 HP Type GE engine with serial #6437 has a Webster magneto and runs at 500 RPM.
Several times a day the 100 HP Fairbanks Diesel engine and the 55 HP Muncie oil engine owned by the club are in operation. The 1923 100 HP Fairbanks Morse diesel Model YV Type 2 cycle has a 14' bore 17' stroke. It weighs 20,000 pounds. The flywheel weighs 6,000 pounds. It was originally sold to the Jackson Brick & Hollow Ware Co., Brownstown, Indiana, and used until the last run in 1946. It was then purchased by Tri-State in 1981, and restored in 1982.
Among the large engines displayed was a 1906 25 HP Superior Gas Oil Field engine which was owned by Woody Huntington of Lizton, Indiana. I was entertained by three rather large engines puffing out big smoke rings. The smallest engine was an 8 HP 1914 Krueger-Atlas, serial #5488, owned by Rudolph Polasek of Karnes City, Texas. This engine was used to pump oil wells. The middle size was a 16 HP 1915 Krueger-Atlas #5553 owned by Mike Polasek. The largest size was a 24 HP 1907 Atlas #31782 also owned by Mike. You have to admire exhibitors who haul these enormous engines to shows for your enjoyment.
The Stationary Engine List site had a large showing of engines. One hundred seventy of approximately 400 members attended. This is the third time members have displayed at Portland. An entertaining 'Clogging Country Cousins' was belted to a 1927 1? HP McCormick Deering engine. The dancers put their best feet forward by remote control (not by the engine- looks can be deceiving!). This unit was a favorite of young and old alike. The Munter family from Grand Ridge, Illinois, was responsible for this 'fun time.'
I joined the Stationary Engine List group for a banquet at the Back Forty to honor Brice Adams, who created the mailing list. Everyone says that 'engine-land has the nicest folks'-this group would be a tribute to that saying!
The Spark Plug Collectors of America held their 25th Anniversary Convention at their site during the show. The group displayed over 5,000 spark plugs. That's alot of spark plugs!
If you needed parts, engines, whatever, I'm sure you could find it here. It was great to meet some of our loyal advertisers and show organizers. I tried to introduce myself to as many vendors and exhibitors as possible. Located near our space were Ken & Wendy Wolf with lots of engines to sell. Their name is associated with the Hoosier Flywheelers Show in Peru, Indiana, now in its 10th year. I was surprised to know that the Wolfs are the fourth generation in their family in sawmilling. Their interest in engines is a familiar story-exposed to engines by their parents while attending shows. The cycle continues with their children and grandchildren. Wendy said she enjoyed taking her children to shows. She also noted that her daughter Pamela was the one who shows the true interest in the business. I wouldn't be surprised if Pamela's son will have his own engine to exhibit in a few years.
The Munter family's 'Clogging Country Cousins' display is shown above at the Stationary Engine List site.
Here are some statistics from the 1999 Tri-State Reunion: 280 Indiana-built engines. 2,102 engines, 85 oddball tractors. 564 other tractors, 325 garden tractors, 7 steam engines, 13 model steam engines, 42 models, 216 other engine models, 19 antique trucks, 27 antique cars, 441 miscellaneous. 37 states were represented plus Canada, Australia, England, Sicily, and the Netherlands.
Bring your walking shoes if you decide to visit this show. You will need several days to see everything. I must admit that I was overwhelmed by the enormous display of engines. I didn't know what to look at first, so I had to plan some kind of strategy to use my time wisely. Our space was located in the very back of the engine flea market, so needless to say, we had a hike to many of the other areas. I now know why these exhibitors and vendors create all kinds of 'transportation' on the grounds. By the way, I think the one I enjoyed the most was the traveling picnic table with the crew enjoying their dinner. What an effortless way to see the show and chow down on some food without wasting any valuable time! This was creativity at its best! My biggest problem was getting my bearings as to where I wanted to go. I'm sure Alan King of King's Books could attest to my problem since he had to point the way more than once, to my embarrassment! Well, I've had my maiden voyage with Portland. Next year I will be ready! Stop by our tent to visit with my husband Ken and me. We promise to have a seat waiting in a shady area.