California antique gas engine show offers fun under the sun
Chris Thomasovich's 20 HP Fairbanks Type N.
Horse Around Ranch lived up to its name on Oct. 18 and 19, 2003, at its hilltop location east of Sonora, Calif. Plenty of people and machinery showed up at Al and Marge Hauschildt's ranch, enjoying the first antique machinery show held there in 10 years. This was EDGE&TA Branch 49's fall show, and it was the perfect place for antique engine and tractor buffs to horse around and play.
Al and Marge have assembled a tremendous assortment of history in a museum village of historic buildings - restored and filled with treasures. Located in a mining-and-timber area, the museum holds relics from both industries. Huge snatch blocks that once held cables for dragging logs sit next to stamp mills and rock crushers, and over 100 chainsaws hang along the walls. Vintage farming equipment ranging from early horse-drawn items to tractor-pulled scrapers and gang plows fill in any empty spaces.
The only rubber-mounted tractor owned by the museum is a 1937 Minneapolis-Moline UDLX, which was parked with the cars in front of the house. There was no shortage of steel-wheeled tractors, however, as so many Rumelys showed up it looked like a dealership. A 1918 Best 60, a Caterpillar 22, a 1914 Townsend and a pristine Little Bull were dwarfed by a 1917 40-80 Flour City. These tractors are all in running condition and were started one at a time with the help of the many visitors.
The first stationary engine to break the silence was Ron Smith's 1935 Hicks. There's something very nice about an old marine engine running slowly while everything else is dead quiet. Al was kept pretty busy, so some of his friends oiled the museum's engines and fired them up, much to everyone's delight. Dave Saunders started the pre-1900 Weber Gas and Gasoline engine, which was very memorable. This engine came from the factory with a hot tube and an igniter.
A convoy of green-and-yellow tractors arrived from Nevada, all polished to perfection and looking as if they had come straight off the showroom floor. Larry Borowick and his son, Chris, brought a 1937 and a 1945 John Deere Model A, and Dick Wheaton and grandsons Tim and Tyler Jost brought their Cockshutts.
Roland Morrison brought a quarterscale Mery Explosive engine that ran smoothly the whole show. Roland also showed castings of his current model, a quarter-scale Kansas City Haypress-made Lightning Balanced engine. This engine is a joint effort between Marv Hedberg and Roland, and will be cast using the lost wax (investment) process. On Saturday afternoon, Roland gave a brief explanation of that casting process. He then disassembled the very complex cylinder mold and presented the wax cylinder to Al's museum.
Dewayne and Frank DeYoung brought a Fairbanks and a Root & VanDervoort that were polished far beyond any original factory finish. Even though these engines belonged in a glass display case, they ran constantly during the show. Frank 'Fergi' Ferguson brought a very rare 1911 3 HP Hornsby & Sons engine. This British-made engine with its sideshaft-driven governor and extra inlet valve is quite interesting. It made the trip all the way from Australia where it ran a lineshaft, driving sheep shears.
Marge kept busy by answering questions about the collection of items in her 'general store,' a building on the grounds that houses antiques. One end of the store is filled with post office boxes from several old post offices that closed years ago.
Steve Gray's electric trailer was fascinating in the early evenings. It's a trailer full of engines including a 1933 Blackstone, pumps, generators and even a street lamp. Walt Wetzel also brought a 1935 Kohler light plant as back-up power. It ran quietly, furnishing coffee and toast from vintage appliances.
The blacksmith shop was a beehive of activity. Eden Sanders had just finished a class where she learned to make an iron fence with mortise and tenon. She and Sandy Sousa kept busy on Saturday, making meat hooks for the pig roast later that night.
Other great offerings included a beautiful Mack truck that held a stunning 12 HP Samson engine belonging to Norman Taunton. Chris Thomasovich's 20 HP Fairbanks Model N arrived for the show, and once running its deep sounds of power were in direct contrast to the pops of the small engines.
So many engines are housed at this museum that less than half were put on display. Only the very curious found the various treasures amongst the museum's collection, like the Julien and the Mauds (Olds) pump engine tucked out of sight from most spectators.
Al and Marge and EDGE&TA Branch 49 have another show planned for this year, Aug. 28-29, 2004. The weather is always good, and this show is a perfect ending to a busy show season.
For more information, contact Al and Marge Hauschildt at: 19010 Yost Ranch Road, Sonora, CA 95370; (209) 928-3249.