SPARK PLUG OF THE MONTH


| November/December 1967



Gas Engine and Tractor Association reunion

Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana

Joe Fahnestock

Dayton Daily News & Radio's 'Joe's Journal'

Spark Plugs, that noble gentry lately arrived on the scene with an eye to the preservation of Agricultural Americana, sometimes gather in groups their august purpose to pursue. Like, for instance, the great Tri-State Gas Engine and Tractor conclave which drew antique gas engine and tractor devotees from throughout the midwest to the well-shaded Jay County fairgrounds in Portland, Indiana, during the month of August.

Spark Plugs here, Spark Plugs there, Spark Plugs everywhere - all frantically fidgeting with feeler-gages for spark gaps, goosing carburetors and yanking on heavy iron fly-wheels by way of the 'Armstrong Method' - each trying to outdo the other in getting their engines to out-pop and out-perform whatever else had been trucked onto the grounds.

It was only their second time to gather, the first of which was but a two day stand at the Fort Recovery village park, in western Ohio, the summer of '66. But unlike the long-standing conclaves of steam threshing brethren, who have grown steadily over the years, the Tri-Staters suddenly burst forth in a grand extravaganza this year that bodes second-fiddle to none. Heretofore the gas-engine segment of the annual threshermen's reunion appeared, at best, only the tail-end fighting for its rights to exhibit a very important and significant era of American farm life at the perimeter outside the main arena of mightier smoke-belching monsters which hogged the center of the grounds. But no more, for Tri-Staters, having come of age all of a sudden, could well be the 'tail that wags the dog'.

'Altogether we've got around some 130 stationary gas engines, and over 25 or 30 antique gas tractors on the grounds,' summed up President of Tri-State, Woody Turner, in a rare moment of relaxation from his busy schedule of directing the numerous operations all the way from threshing with old-time farm tractors to tractor-pulling contests and every conceivable stationary engine performance.

And, to sort of let the 'other side' know who was boss at the big Tri-State Gas Engine and Tractor reunion, there was a solitary steam traction engine which was permitted to 'sneak through the gates and allowed to chuff at will over the lovely, shaded fairgrounds - just to remind folks that gas engine and tractor historians have a warm spot in their hearts for 'those things' too. And when it came time for cigar-chewing 'Uncle Charlie' Ditmer and Hugh Hartzell to exhibit the brewing of apple butter in copper kettles, the old-fashioned farm way, well, the old steam engine came in mighty handy, the steam from its big boiler being just the stuff to keep the big 'kittles a-b'ilin''.