Oil field fleet mechanic, Kelly Garcia, from La Habra, California, checks out a 2 HP Hercules owned by Bill Morris while brother Paul Morris oversees the operation. The Hercules was one of the more than twenty antique engines displayed by Bill at the Main
P.O. Box 775, Quartzsite, Arizona 85346-0775
The 6th annual Hit and Miss Gas Engine Show was held at the Main Event in Quartzsite, Arizona, on January 24, 25 and 26, 1997. The show was part of the 15th annual Main Event Gemboree. The Main Event Gemboree is one of the largest gem and mineral shows on earth. Over 1,000 tailgaters and dealers from all over the globe display the world's largest collection of fine gems, minerals and jewelry.
Also on display are rare items, bottles, coins, hobby crafts and antiques. 'Not everyone is interested in rocks and gems,' said Howard Armstrong, owner of the Main Event and an antique engine enthusiast. 'That is why we have included the Hit and Miss Gas Engine Show, as well as the classic car show, off road racing and a number of other special events held during the Gemboree.'
Over 200 exhibitors displayed 300 antique engines at this year's hit and miss show. Many of the engines on display were once used for pumping water, grinding corn and other grains, mining operations, sawmills, light generators and many other uses. These machines originally replaced horses. They were economical to run and you didn't have to feed them.
Many of the early windmills used gas engines as back-up power when the wind was not blowing. If the engine failed, they also had another backup system that used muscle power for pumping water. Sadie, a mannequin and lifetime member of the Western Antique Power Associates, illustrated the use of muscle power for pumping water during the show.
In addition to helping farmers in the field, gas engines also brought convenience into the home. Gary and Pat Sandve, from St. David, Arizona, exhibited their collection of gas and electric powered washing machines. 'Electric washing machines are older than the gas engine machines,' explained Sandve. 'In the big cities like New York and Chicago they had electric and the housewife could use them. Out on the farm they didn't have electric, so companies developed the gas powered machines so farm wives could use their washing machines.' Maytag was one of the leaders in the field, building gas powered washing machines well into the 1950s. Special attachments for grinding sausage and making butter were included with many of the early models.
The grand-daddy of all the gas powered engines on display at this year's Main Event Show was the 60 horsepower, Fairbanks-Morse diesel 2-cycle engine. The engine was purchased new in 1938 by the late Antonio Piani, an alfalfa rancher in Antelope Valley, California, for $5,000. Originally, it was used to pump water from a well on Piani's ranch to irrigate 80 acres of alfalfa. Piani operated the engine day and night in the summertime, pumping 900 gallons of water a minute. The water was pumped into a 200 by 200 foot reservoir that was four feet deep. From the reservoir the water flowed by gravity through 12 inch pipes into the alfalfa beds.
Bud Melvin, a member of the Western Antique Power Associates, said there are four stages to getting antique engines ready to show. (1) The treasure hunt, looking for the right engine to restore. (2) The detective work, finding information about the engine and locating parts and materials to fix the engine. (3) The mechanical phase, repairing and getting the engine in running condition. And (4), the artistic phase, painting the engine and making it beautiful and ready to show.
The 6th annual Main Event Hit and Miss Gas Engine Show attracted exhibitors from Canada, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California, and Arizona. Members of the Western Antique Power Associates, Rusty Relics Branch 30 of the Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association, Inc., and the Power From The Past Club were represented.
The Quartzsite Show is one of the largest winter meets in the southwest, attracting over 10,000 spectators during the three day exhibition. Next year, the 16th annual Main Event Gemboree will be held January 17, through February 1, 1998. Exhibitors wishing to participate in the 7th annual Hit and Miss Gas Engine Show should contact the Main Event at P.O. Box 2801, Quartzsite, Arizona 85346-2801, or call (520) 927-5213. The Main Event provides exhibitors with free overnight camping during the show. Some spaces have full hookups.
Sam Curry, from Sedona, Arizona, has exhibited for the past 5 years at the Main Event Show. 'This year's show,' said Curry, 'is better than last year and is getting better all the time.'