Always Gas Engines

By Staff
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Clifford Williams, Hugo, IL demonstrating model gas engines he built.
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Tim Wood, Dave Berbaum and Bob Noftz crank up a 6 HP M International.
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Dave Gass, Rantoul, IL with Maj. Bragg's restored 1917 Heider tractor at the 1988 Steam Festival.

County Historical Steam Festival, R.R. #2, Box 178, Arcola,
Illinois 61910

Having been raised on a farm in Illinois, I can never remember
when I was not surrounded by gas engines of some sort. When I was
at a very young age, I would ride wih my father, Joe Nolan, on our
101 Massey Harris tractor pulling a rotary hoe through the fields
at high speeds. I can also remember riding the old Massey Harris at
night with him while plowing with electric lights which was really
quite an advancement for our farm with rural electricity just
coming into the area at the same time. I best remember the old
Massey Harris laboring on the belt while shelling corn for the
neighbors with a Minneapolis corn sheller. The old Massey would
turn over that old Minnie sheller from six in the morning to six in
the evening. The drone of the exhaust pipe could be heard through
the slats of the old corn cribs as the corn drags carried a steady
yellow stream of eared corn to the awaiting sheller.

My mother, Eileen Nolan, would always go out to the old
wash-house on washing day and have me carry out the old Maytag
flexible exhaust pipe which was so greasy you had to carry a rag
for your hands before you could do anything else concerned with the
washing operation. My mother would wash load after load for our
family and the old Maytag would send out a steady stream of blue
smoke while the agitator would work back and forth while washing
the clothes. I liked to ride with my father to the local grain
elevator and stay in the old International truck while the elevator
hoist would raise the front of the truck high into the air so that
the grain would slide out of the bed. While I would be suspended in
air the old 25 HP Fairbanks-Morse with match ignitor would fire
heavily as it pulled the grain flights in the elevator leg to the
storage containers. These are only fond memories now, but these
were times in my life when rural life was rich and exciting and the
gas engine was becoming a more important factor with each
approaching year. We at the Douglas County Historical Steam Show at
Arcola, Illinois are very proud that we can keep this history alive
every Labor Day Weekend when time stands still and we relive
‘History in Motion.’

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