| May/June 1984

The two men bent to their task with a determination that matched that of the cantankerous old engine they were trying to start.

While Larry MacClintock opened the choke and depressed the valve on the antique Witte gasoline engine, burly Jim Whitaker grasped one side of the flywheel and yanked it into motion, pulling hard, around and around.

Coughing, sputtering, belching puffs of exhaust, the engine almost started, but then backfired, and the men began their efforts anew. This happened time and again. 'Can't understand why she doesn't want to start,' Whitaker said, beads of sweat standing out on his forehead. 'Is it just this particular one that's so stubborn, or is the whole species like this?' he asked MacClintock, who is old enough to remember when engines such as the old Witte were used to do almost every farm chore imaginable.

Eventually Whitaker, MacClin-tock, and a few others who got into the act coaxed the engine into turning over and demonstrating to the crowd at Hanford Mills Museum's Antique Engine Jamboree its prowess at running a saw at the other end of a 20 foot belt.

The Witte, donated to Hanford Mills by the Farmers' Museum in Cooperstown, was just one of many old engines that gasped, popped and chugged their way through the two-day September event. Museum director Jim Williams said that 30 exhibitors from antique engine clubs throughout the Hudson Valley, the Catskills, and central and southern New York had brought restored equipment to the jamboree, which attracted hundreds of visitors.

Daniel Rion of Prattsville was one of those who shared his passion for gasoline engines with Hanford Mills fairgoers. He brought seven engines and a fully restored 1936 John Deere tractor to the jamboree, leaving most of his collection of '100-plus' engines and 50-odd tractors at home.