Little Kids, Big Kids and Old Engines
Eager eyes take in the details of Tommy Turner's scale Otto-Langen atmospheric engine at 'Lincoln Tucker's Show & Tell' at North side Elementary in Midway, Ky. Members of the old iron community converged on the school for a special event May 2, 2003. The second day of the event gave members of the local community a chance to see what it was all about. Eli Bowman made up the smart plaques (right) for event participants.
On May 2, 2003, 19 members of the Stationary Engine List teamed together to help 10-year-old Lincoln Tucker pull off what must have been one of the most impressive show-and-tell exhibits ever held at a public school in the U.S.
Hauling their equipment in from eight states, List members assembled a selection of engines and equipment to rival any small show -all for the benefit of the students of North side Elementary in Midway, Ky.
Lincoln Tucker gives his show-and-tell all to students of North side Elementary at Station 1, which he shared with Dave Rotigel and Dave's 16 HP Galloway, the largest engine at the event.
Lincoln Tucker is no stranger to the old iron community. His dad, Mike Tucker, has been collecting engines for the past seven years or so, and Lincoln's accompanied Mike to more than a few shows over the intervening years. Not surprisingly, the engine bug has taken hold of Lincoln.
Lincoln's first engine, a 1954 Briggs & Stratton 5S, was a Christmas present from his grandfather. A 1929 Maytag 92 followed the Briggs, and last year at Portland Lincoln got his first stationary engine, a MacLeod-badged 1- HP Nelson Bros. TA4.
Following the Portland show Lincoln disassembled the MacLeod, cleaned it up, reassembled it and gave it a coat of boiled linseed oil. When it was done, Lincoln posted pictures of the MacLeod on Mike's Web page (homepage.mac.com/hmtucker) for List members to see. The response from List members to Lincoln's finished engine was, in typical fashion, strong and appreciative. List members, as much as anyone, appreciate the need to get a younger crowd into the old iron community, and they're always ready to encourage young talent.
List member Arnie Fero suggested Lincoln should take the engine to school for show-and-tell, and then member Dave Rotigel took the idea one step further, suggesting List members band together and help Lincoln put on a show-and-tell. From that simple seed the idea took root, and on Nov. 20, 2002, Lincoln posted a formal invitation to the List, inviting members to join him in showing off their engines at his school.
Response to Lincoln's invitation was predictably strong, and after shooting messages back and forth across the Internet, members who knew they could commit their time discussed what they should bring and how to run the event. The task of organizing everything fell primarily to Mike, and over the intervening months a final consensus on how to conduct the event took shape. Lincoln's school was enthusiastic about the idea from the beginning, and North side Elementary principal Candace James presented the idea to the district superintendent for approval. The former district superintendent, it turns out, is a friend of List member Tommy Turner, a county judge in Magnolia, Ky. Tommy contacted his friend, who in turn impressed on the current superintendent what a great opportunity this was. Permission was granted, a date of May 2 was finally chosen and List members got to work preparing for the big day.
By Thursday afternoon on May I, most of the participants were on hand and tending to the business of staking out stations and starting preparations for the 'show.' Friday morning came quickly, and by 7:30 a.m. participants were busily setting up their displays in preparation for throngs of kids. And throngs there were.
North side Elementary has 412 students, but principal James decided this was going to be such a great time she extended an invitation to surrounding schools to join in on the fun. Simmons Elementary in nearby Versailles, Ky., took her up on the invitation, and 20 students from Simmons headed over to North side. All told, 432 students worked their way through the six-and-a-half stations set up on the school grounds. Lincoln's grandparents, Roger and Mary Ann Miller, displaying Roger's 1938 Silver King tractor, occupied that 'half' station. This was, after all, an engine event!
Students worked their way through the stations in groups, stopping at each station for the brief introductions, explanations and demonstrations given by List members. Not surprisingly, some demonstrations garnered more student interest than others. Cutting wood was definitely a big one for the kids, and principal James says the corn husking really got their attention. 'You got to see the progression on how it became easier with industrialization and technology,' James says, 'and they got to see the progression.'
Interest built in a hurry, with students eagerly looking forward to each new station and demonstration as they moved their way through the equipment on hand. Lincoln says Dave Rotigel's 16 HP Galloway held students in awe, and scared more than a few of them every time it fired.
Nelson Johnsrud's Hercules-powered can crusher was a decided hit, and Tommy Turner's scale Otto-Langen atmospheric engine turned more than a few heads as students took in this interesting precursor to the four-cycle engine. And more than a few students were fascinated with John Culp's eclectic display.
Oddly juxtaposing the new with the old, John had his 6 HP Indian Lister belted to a generator, which in turn provided power to run a microwave. All this while a Ken doll and a Barbie doll lounged in a cooling tank circulated with water from a pump driven off the Lister.
Twenty-three people participated in Lincoln Tucker's Show & Tell, and 19 of them drove a total of 8,500 miles from nine different states just to be a part of this event. The list shown here gives a rundown of participants, the stations they manned, what they had on hand, their 'normal' work titles and where they're from. Sons and daughters of List members came along, as well, showing the love for old iron spans not only vocations, but generations, as well.
Station 1:What in the world are these things and how do they work?
Dave Rotigel, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy of Education
4th Grade, Northside Elementary
16 HP Galloway
1- HP Macleod belted to a water pump
Station 2: The designs and Inventions that made these engines unique.
Plum Boro, Pennsylvania
LaRue County Judge
Otto Langen Atmospheric Model
8HP International (oldest known
4 HP Robertsonville
4 HP Lorenz
Station 3: How do you use engine power to process corn?
Weld Robot Repairer
Information Systems Coordinator
Mike Tucker, Ph.D.
Alzheimer's Disease Research Scientist
2 hand corn shellers
2 box mounted crank corn shellers
One-hole hand crank sheller (floor model)
3 HP Novo belted to a two-hole corn sheller
9 HP Economy belted to a 12-inch Meadows grist mill
1-3/4 HP Economy belted to a small burr mill
Station 4: Some things engines can do around the house.
John Culp, M.D.
Family Practice and Professor
Manufacturing Quality Control Technician
Owner, Heavy Duty Truck & Trailer Repair Shop.
Downers Grove, Illinois
1- HP Gade belted to a centrifugal water pump
International LA with mounted well pump 6 HP Indian Lister belted to a generator running a microwave as well as a water pump for Ken and Barbie's hot tub 3 HP Novo mounted on a very unusual cement mixer Wash tub with wash board Hand lever operated washing machine Maytag 92 operated washing machine
Station 5: Sawing wood the 'easy' way.
Gastonia, North Carolina
Gastonia, North Carolina
4th Grade, WA Bess Elementary
Gastonia, North Carolina
Sawhorses with a two-man saw and a cedar log
8 HP screen-cooled Famous buzz saw rig
sawing cedar logs
Station 6: Fun things you can do with engines.
Electric Circuit Designer and Product Developer
Owner, Design and Engineering Company
Various homemade models of Leroy's
Various models brought by Frank
Elden's 'Hoyt Clagwell' Faribanks-powered butt buggy
Nelson's 3 HP Hercules belted to the soda can crusher
Station 6.5: What a funny looking tractor!
Roger and Mary Ann Miller
Paint Lick, Kentucky
1938 Silver King
Among the more unique equipment on hand was Gene Waugh's 3 HP Novo and cement mixer (above). Students check out Nelson Johnsrud's Hercules-powered can crusher at Station 6 (left).
That, in a nutshell, sums up Lincoln's reaction to the event. The engines awed Lincoln's friends, and Lincoln says by the time it was over 'I'm pretty sure some of them wanted to buy an engine.' But aside from being cool, Lincoln thought the event was educational, as well, noting the opportunity students had to learn about life in a time long past. None of his friends, Lincoln notes, have parents in the old iron hobby, and Lincoln says his teacher, Laura Albrecht, thinks 'it's pretty cool having a student who works with stuff from the past.'
North side principal James says she knew it would be educational, 'but it was even more so than I had anticipated. I had a lot of kids showing me what they got out of it, and the camaraderie between participants was great.' Was she ever worried about how the event would pull off? 'Mike and Susan (Lincoln's parents) are top notch, so I knew it would go well,' James says.
Not surprisingly, event participants had a spectacular time. Leroy Clark thought the event was a head-turner for young minds, saying, 'This one little event was what the hobby is all about. Here was the chance to shape minds and win young people into a clean and fun hobby.' Nelson Johnsrud came away with a distinct sense of pride. 'There are factors that set this event apart from our regular shows,' Nelson says. 'The biggest of these is the fact that a bunch of us from several different states pulled this together on a whim, resulting in an extremely informative history lesson for the students. Why? Just because we wanted to, that's the neat part.' Tommy Turner says he had fun, but he also says 'the greatest thrill of all was one little boy who looked at the old iron and said, 'wow, I'm gonna have me one of those someday!'' And that, of course, gets right to the point.
The old iron hobby is very active, but its future depends in large measure upon a steady influx of new, younger members to carry the torch and feed the hobby. Fortunately, there are members of the hobby who clearly think nothing of devoting time, energy and money to taking the hobby to new levels, introducing a younger generation to the thrill of old iron, and in the process helping to ensure the continued health of the old iron collective.
Richard Backus is editor of Gas Engine Magazine. The Antique Tractor Internet Service can be found on the Web at: www.atis.net.