Cabin Fever 2005

By Staff
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George Luhrs is surrounded with scale projects at the 2005 Cabin Fever show in York, Pa
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Look closely – the engine George is fiddling with is an operating 4-stroke with a 1/4-inch bore. Another completed copy sits in the foreground.
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Doug Kelley’s 1/16-scale 300 HP Snow double-acting tandem.
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Riley Moore’s scratch-built 1/3-scale IHC Famous.
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The cylinders spin around the stationary crankshaft on Roland Gaucher’s 1/4-scale 1917 Bentley rotary radial.
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Don Hoxie’s Gothic beam engine.
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Brian Larocque did the machine work on Roger Grosser’s 1/2-scale Pearl steam engine.
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Dale Detrich built this 4-cylinder opposed engine from a design by Philip Duclos.
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Richard Yeagley scaled down the working fuel pump for his freelance Chevy small block (inset) from a unit he bought at a local auto parts store. The engine, about 6 inches long, should run once Richard’s done. Richard also displayed a running V-12 M

“It all started because of him,” says Gary Schoenly when asked
about the origins of Cabin Fever, the scale and model engine show
he and his family have been running for nine years. “Him,” in case
you’re wondering, is Gary’s 22-year-old son, Jared, who, as Gary
tells it, “was always interested in toy trains. At about 8 or 9, we
had gone to Rough & Tumble, and it was either Dick Shelley or
Jack Rosman who had quite a display of engines, and Jared said,
‘Dad, we need one of those engines.’ I told him you can’t just buy
one, you have to build one.”

The following year, Jared became friends with scale-engine
builder George Luhrs, who took Jared under his wing and mentored
him in the ways of scale engines. Jared was hooked, and he and Gary
started attending scale-engine shows around the country.

Ten years ago, while heading home from the North American Model
Engineering Exposition in Michigan, the pair got to thinking.
“Driving home, we realized we were going to Michigan to see our
Pennsylvania friends, so why not do a model show in Pennsylvania? I
remember telling Jared, ‘I think I can talk Mom into it, and if we
can pay the bills I think we’ll be able to do it,'” Gary recalls.
That conversation was the impetus for the first Cabin Fever Model
Engineering Exposition, which the Schoenly’s held at the Leesport
Farmers Market in Leesport, Pa., in 1997. Eleven vendors showed up
for that first show, along with about 50 exhibitors and close to
1,000 attendees. They paid the bills, and they’ve been moving
forward ever since.

Growing Up

The show stayed in Leesport for the next three years, but in
2001, with attendance rising, and more and more vendors and
exhibitors showing interest, the growing show moved to the Lebanon
County Exposition Center in Lebanon, Pa. Two years later, and still
growing, the show moved to its current home at the York Fairgrounds
Convention & Expo Center in York, Pa.

Gary says about 5,000 people showed up for the 2005 show,
touring the Expo Center’s cavernous floor space and inspecting the
displays set up by the 105 vendors and close to 250 exhibitors on
hand for this year’s event. Vendors supply everything from
computer-aided milling machines to rough casting kits to finished,
running engines. Vendors sell used lathes, milling machines, bar
stock and tools, and a few, like blacksmith Pete Renzetti, pedal
their art.

The truth, of course, is just about everything on display could
be termed art. What else can you call a perfect 1/16-scale 300 HP
Snow double-acting tandem – an engine design Doug Kelley adapted
from nothing more than an old textbook drawing and then lovingly
crafted to a perfect running display.

Or perhaps Roland Gaucher’s 1/4-scale 9-cylinder Bentley rotary
radial. Uncannily perfect in every detail and running like nothing
you’ve ever seen, its nine cylinders emitted a wonderful bark with
every fire.

Farm engines were plentiful, of course, including fabulous
home-built scales like Riley Moore’s 1/3-scale IHC Famous. Riley’s
engine was one of three made by Riley and friends Guy Gerberich and
Park Bailor, with each man responsible for making three copies of
every piece they worked on until they had enough to make all three
engines. Talk about teamwork and friendship!

Scale steam engines were also easy to find, including Roger
Grosser’s 1/2-scale Pearl steam launch engine, a stunning scale of
an already impressive recreation of the full-size Pearl steam
engine. Roger sells kits of the full-size engine, which he also had
on display.

At the other end of the building, steam enthusiasts could take
in Don Hoxie’s buildup of Historic Models Casting’s Novelty Iron
Works Gothic beam engine. An impressive piece built to 1/12-scale,
its level of detail and function have to be seen to be

And then there were the fabulous scale engines of George Luhrs,
the man who arguably got this whole show running, thanks to his
influence on Jared Schoenly. George, who set up his round table of
scale engines and equipment in the entryway for the show, is an
inveterate builder and modeler, a man who makes everything from
scale steam engines to miniature drag saws. Most impressive was the
extreme-miniature engine George designed and built in 1999. A
4-cycle, air-cooled single-cylinder featuring a 1/4-inch bore and
5/16-inch stroke (total displacement is 0.015 cubic inches!), the
engine runs, much to the amazement of the spectators who crowded
around George’s table to witness the spectacle.

Looking Forward

Thanks to the vitality of the scale and model engine hobby, Gary
and Jared have expanded to three annual shows. Including the
January Cabin Fever show, they’ve added an August Iron Fever show
(also held in York) and a fall Men, Metal & Machines show held
in Visalia, Calif. “I think the hobby’s alive and well, and moving
forward,” Gary says. “The auction this year was phenomenal, and the
show floor on Saturday, I don’t think it could get much

Gary probably wouldn’t complain if it did get better, which of
course wouldn’t garner any complaints from the scale engine crowd,
who share a hobby that seems to be growing steadily, and by some
counts might be the best venue to attract a younger crowd to the
general hobby of old engines.

For more information, contact the Schoenly’s at: Cabin Fever
Expositions, 3403 New Holland Road, Mohnton, PA 19540; (800)

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