The Southland Flywheelers have been meeting for 18 years, and for the last seven their annual tractor and engine show has been held in conjunction with the Alabama Jubilee, one of the largest hot-air balloon meets in the U.S. With 68 hot-air balloons participating in this year's Jubilee, the event is second only to the famed Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta held every fall in Albuquerque, N.M.
Ballooning is a somewhat capricious sport, relying on fair weather and low wind speeds for a safe and uneventful flight. But the weather, unfortunately, isn't something we can always count on. Appreciating that fact only too well, Jubilee organizers turned to the Southland Flywheelers for help.
According to Wayne Tribble, president of the Southland Flywheelers, Jubilee organizers thought antique engines and tractors would make a perfect fallback in case the weather failed to cooperate, so seven years ago they approached the Southland Flywheelers about displaying their engines and tractors at the Jubilee. The club signed on, and they've been here every year since. And seven years on, it's clear the Southland Flywheelers show has become more than an addition to the Jubilee, turning instead into something of a foundation for an annual event drawing an estimated 50,000 attendees.
Stanley Britton's fantastic circa 1916 12 HP IHC Giant Mogul, s/n P523. It's hard to believe looking at this engine that it's wearing paint put on 20 years ago. Stanley, Athens, Ala., kept the Mogul running almost constantly.
Farmalls were well represented at the show, including this stunning 1936 F-12 belonging to the Redding family of Corinth, Miss.
A circa 1909-1910 15 HP 'left hand' Reid belonging to Charles Wilson, Horton, Ala. The 'left hand' refers to the charging cylinder used on Reid engines, which could be ordered mounted on either the left or right side of the main power cylinder. A beautifully prepared engine, Charles kept it running for the better part of the show.
The Jubilee is held on the grounds of Point Mallard, a 35-acre park on the banks of the Tennessee River and just minutes from downtown Decatur, Ala. The park, which counts among its attractions the oldest wave pool in the country, an 18-hole golf course and a large campground, is a perfect setting for an engine and tractor show. Large stands of mature trees provide ample shade when the sun gets high, and there's plenty of open space for displaying antique machinery.
This isn't a huge show, but what it might lack in size it more than makes up for in quality and diversity. Counting the three crawlers on display, upwards of 90 tractors of various stripe were on hand, ranging from a 1947 Avery Model A exhibited by the Townsend family of Somerville, Ala., to a 1949 Standard Twin brought by Thomas Badget of Alexandria, Ala.
Exhibitors come from all over the region, not just Alabama, as the Southland Flywheelers club also has members in Tennessee, Mississippi and Georgia. The Redding family made the trip from Corinth, Miss., displaying their immaculate 1936 Farmall F-12, and Evan Gooch, Columbia, Tenn., made the drive, too, bringing along a steel-wheeled 1940 Cockshutt Model 80 and a 1935 McCormick T20 crawler. Also making the trip from Tennessee were Carroll and Jean Hicklen, who brought along a brace of beautifully restored Farmalls, including a 1940 Model H, a 1945 Model B, a 1946 Model M and a 1951 Super C.
On the engine side, some 85 gas engines were on display, including the subject of this month's cover, the 2 HP Model A Hagan belonging to Stanley Britton, Athens, Ala. The manufacture date of Stanley's Hagan is unclear, but bearing serial number 68 it's thought to be an early unit. The Hagan Gas Engine & Manufacturing Co., Winchester, Ky., set up shop in 1903, so it's likely Stanley's engine dates from sometime around 1904 to 1905. These are unique engines, and no more than a few are known to have survived. Stanley acquired the Hagan in 1994, and with the help of his partner, Mike Thomas, also of Athens, he's put it back into proper working order. Thanks to Stanley we have a Hagan catalog detailing the Hagan engine and its unique features, and in a future issue we'll take a closer look at this intriguing engine.
Stanley and Mike also brought another impressive engine, a beautifully restored circa 1916 IHC 12 HP Giant Mogul. Bearing serial number P523, Stanley says it's the 60th of 365 12 HP Moguls made. Originally employed running a gin in Mississippi, Stanley rescued the Mogul some 20 years ago and brought it back to original, working order. The Mogul was incomplete when Stanley got it, missing major items like the cooling tank, the magneto and the igniter, the latter item having been destroyed by the previous owner's family to keep him from running the engine. An original cooling tank showed up at the Waukee swap meet some years ago, and just five years ago Stanley finally sourced an original magneto and igniter. An impressive engine, Stanley kept it running the entire time.
James Smitherman (bending down behind the 1-1/2 HP 1929 McCormick Model M), Clanton, Ala., fires up his 2 HP John Lauson for attendees. The engine in the foreground is a 1-1/2 HP Fuller & Johnson (no nameplate). Behind it is a 2 HP 1927 Novo, s/n 99173.
Along with a beautifully restored 1939 Novo four-cylinder stationary he rescued from a junkyard, Perry Johnson, Trinity, Ala., had two Desjardins engines on display, including a completely original 6/8 HP and a refurbished 4/5 HP, both likely dating from the early 1920s. Built by Desjardins Ltd. in Quebec, Canada, and similar in design to Waterloo Boy engines (Perry also had a Waterloo Boy, making comparison between the two makes easy), Perry's engines were a great addition to the show.
A 1916 Maytag Multi-Motor, s/n 10526, also belonging to Hal Hoaglin, Hayden, Ala. This engine was one of nine Hal had on display detailing the evolution of early Maytag engines.
Hal Hoaglin, Hayden, Ala., had one of the more impressive Maytag displays I've ever seen, consisting of nine examples of the early upright Maytag Multi-Motor (including one of the very rare 'Fruit Jar' models) spread across a large table, complete with data highlighting how the model evolved across its production life.
Hal's display included a circa 1915-1916 Maytag, serial number 5115 (the first style manufactured by Maytag after its purchase of the design from Elgin Wheel & Engine Co., Elgin, Ill.), and continued through to a circa 1920 upright, serial number 68,001, the last iteration of the design before the introduction of the Model 82 in 1923.
Nameplate from Stanley Britton's 2 HP Hagan, this month's cover shot. Very rare engines, Hagan's used a unique fuel delivery system whereby the intake air pulled fuel drawn on a chain.
Burton Marsh, Madison, Ala., tends to the boiler running his steam demonstration. Burton had 11 different steam engines on hand.
If Hal's Maytag Multi-Motor display wasn't enough, he also brought along a fantastically restored Maytag Racer. Used as a marketing and promotional tool to show the ruggedness of Maytag engines, 498 of these little racers were built by Maytag between 1934 and 1941. The earliest ones used single-cylinder Maytag engines, and Hal's is one of these. When Hal bought the Racer it was in pretty desperate shape, so a full restoration was the order of the day. Hal had to rework most of the Racer, but he was able to salvage the original tires (mounted on their original, beautifully cast aluminum rims), and as far he knows his is the only Racer still on its original tires.
The 4/5 HP Desjardins belonging to Perry Johnson, Trinity, Ala. Just visible behind it is the 1939 four-cylinder Novo Perry rescued from a junkyard.
A 1944 6 HP Lister, s/n 541616, owned by David Soloman, Tanner, Ala. Fairly rare in the U.S., these British engines are well-known overseas. This one was paired to a Broom & Wade compressor, also made in England.
Club members also brought farm wagons to display, including the stunning Florence belonging to Willard South, Florence, Ala. The Florence Wagon Co., Florence, Ala., was once one of the largest manufacturers of farm wagons in the country, its Alabama operation taking advantage of the then-plentiful supply of mature timber and quality iron ore for the manufacture of its wagons. Other wagons included a stunning Weber and two John Deeres.
There was even a little bit of steam on hand, with Burton Marsh, Madison, Ala., putting on a his own little one-man show. All told, I counted 11 steam engines in Burton's exhibit, ranging from a fantastic 10 HP, twin-cylinder compound Semple to various model steam engines, all getting their steam from the small boiler Burton set up on the back of his trailer. Burton doesn't have anything against gas engines, in fact he says he owns around 75 different examples, but when it comes to the shows, he finds attendees are really drawn to his steam exhibit. 'A lot of people never get the chance to see steam,' Burton says, 'so I like running it at shows.'
Crawler club: Pete Allen (left) brought a 1951 Oliver OC3, Curt Friday (center) brought a 1928 Caterpillar 20 and Evan Gooch (right) brought a 1935 McCormick T20.
It's interesting to watch attendees at the Southland Flywheelers show, as its pairing with hot-air balloonists exposes the old iron hobby to people who might otherwise pass it by. Watching attendees as they wandered through the show was a joy, witnessing adults and children alike discovering the wonder of old iron for the first time.
The Southland Flywheelers have found a home as part of the Alabama Jubilee, and their show's success presents an example other clubs might do well to note. By pairing with another event, the Southland Flywheelers have significantly increased their exposure to people outside of the old iron hobby. In doing so, they help to educate the public at large about the value of this old iron we all love so much - about its role in industry and agriculture, and its contributions to technology and the economy.
Richard Backus is editor of Gas Engine Magazine.