No--this is not the announcement of a first-launching of a jet-propulsion missile to outer space from the North American Space Agency Laboratories. Nor does it concern the unveiling of some new kind of military weaponry, for its purpose was not to wipe out human life or cause physical suffering.
The only 'space' that O. V. A. M. was concerned with was that of conquering the Brown County Fairgrounds, which it did from the very first 'launching', which took place on August 13, 1971, at Georgetown, Ohio, in the gently rolling hills of southern Buckeyeland.
The Ohio Valley Antique Machinery boys had never launched an old-time, historical agricultural show before. But they planned it like they already had. For at the very first hour of the show's opening, every antique tractor, car and gas engine, as well as concession--everything that was on the card, including the steam engines--was in its appointed place when the count-down approached 'zero.' This does not mean that much other antique equipment did not arrive, as the week-end wore on and the shop boys punched out their time-clocks at their respective factories. They did arrive, to the added interest of all. But all the scheduled ones were there, in place, when the first flag went up and the starting gun went off.
'This is our first show--I guess we should be quite nervous about it,' said a very busy Roger Neal, president of O. V. A. M., who should have been chewing his fingernails, but wasn't.
'We wanted everything in its place before the show started on opening day.' added secretary, Stanley Mack, who had worked so hard to make it that way. Mack, like most secretaries with broad shoulders, was busy everywhere at all times, greeting and welcoming folks-seeing to it that everyone was most happily situated to benefit best his own particular idiom. But, in greeting me, and accidentally leaning his bare hand on the hot exhaust pipe of the idling Joe Dear did not make his job any easier-- but a bandage did. And Stanley Mack was just as affable and congenial throughout the show as if it hadn't happened. (Though it did.)
As a reward for all their first-year planning, approximately 7,500 crashed the O. V. A. M. gates to get a view of the some one-hundred antique gas engines all popping and chugging, the forty old gas tractors of various vintages and designs, the eighty classical and antique cars, the four old trucks and five steam engines all with a 'full head of steam up.'
Jack Maple heads a tandem of Rumely Oil-Pulls at O.V.A.M. Show, Georgetown, Ohio. Maple is an expert at 'doctoring the medicine' into a big Rumely.
Just to name a few of the outstanding classical cars, there was a 1934 Cadillac, with V-16 engine, valued at $41,000, a 1920 Cleveland, 1925 Chevrolet, a 1909 Brush and a 1909 Maxwell (without Jack Benny).
Were one not properly initiated into the field of gas engine-ology, he might, upon visiting O. V. A. M. Show for the first time, think that a military maneuver might be in progress. But to the initiated, it offered no qualms, for it was merely the din of popping, banging, chugging engines that made up the giant Gasoline Alley that was spread throughout the northern area of the Brown County Fairgrounds. From the largest to the smallest-they were all there--and running. Most dominant, and sounding more like an anti-tank gun than a gas engine was the 'Big Daddy of 'em all--a three-ton Joseph Reid Engine, twenty-five horsepower, two-cycle which Russell and Ronnie Burbee had converted from natural gas over to LP. Noteworthy on this particular engine was the auxiliary cylinder, in front of the main cylinder, which acted as a fuel pump to the combustion chamber. Purchased at Junction City, Ohio, this huge engine was the type that had been used for many years, pumping oil in and around Oil City, Pa., where it was manufactured. Now and then the Burbee boys stopped the big Reid, to allow its cylinder to cool down from the LP fuel, and it required many revolutions from its rated 160 rpm to finally die. Painted in bright orange and grey, the big Reid two-cycle giant was an eye-stopper, just as onlookers walked onto the O.V.A.M. grounds. Russell and Ronnie were so proud of their achievement, first in capturing 'such a giant alive', then transporting it to the Brown County Fairgrounds, that they sat up all night in chairs to guard it so no one picked it up and carried it away.
Making up some of the rest of the one-hundred gas engines at O. V. A. M. Gasoline Alley were such as the little 2? H. P. Stover Engine, belonging to Paul Sapp, which was belted to a large grindstone--a boon and accommodation to those carrying dull Barlow Jacknives which were in need of sharpening. Then there was the small John Deere Engine belted to an old-time, double-tub wash machine. (But no one was washing their clothes--just lookin' they 'wuz'.)
One 5-Horse Economy Engine was banging out her stuff with a very pronounced staccato. Upon drawing closer, we discovered Harold Winkle of Mowrys-town, Ohio, leaning heavily on a two-by-four beam, propped against the flywheel, bringing out the Economy bark in steady rhythm. Good for the ears, but made the old two-by-four smoke a little. Winkle was also putting his 5-Horse-power Fairbanks-Morse Type-Z through the 'two-by-four brake tests' bringing out the sharp bark of its exhaust.
There was the smaller 3-Horse Fairbanks-Morse Type-Z with a long pipe which gave a deep pipe-organ effect to the exhaust (sounded like 10-Horse, instead)--owned and operated by Wendell Kelch of Georgetown, Ohio.
One of the most unusual of the smaller rigs around O. V. A. M. gasoline alley was what appeared for all the world to be a small steam traction engine, but with a 1? Horse McCormiek-Deering Engine mounted atop the 'boiler.' No man on the grounds was having more fun than Victor Koteen who kept blowing his whistle and puffing smoke out his stack--quite reminiscent of the old Towhsend Tractors which ran by gasoline but looked like steamers. Maybe Victor won't murder us for divulging a secret here, but he had a specially-concealed copper pipe leading up to the smokestack exhaust, into which he kept pumping a few drops of crankcase oil from his engineer's oil-can, to make his 'steamer' smoke. And whenever he coaxed his air-compressor up to fifty pounds, he could really toot his whistle-- an old brass one which formerly adorned a merry-go-round.
Attorney Joe Martin, legal counselling member of the Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Assoc, Georgetown, Ohio, drives his old McCormick-Deering Tractor, which has been in his family since it arrived by rail-car back in '25. The cigar-chewing Joe is a real legal-beagle for the organization, with plush offices in the prominent turret that overlooks Georgetown, Ohio, Main street. But at the O.V.A.M. reunion his main office is on the seat of the old McCormick-Deering, or up on a wagon pitching bundles.
Stanley Mack, secretary of Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Assoc, had fun driving his 10-20 IHC Titan Tractor. So did his wife, Mary Mack (sounds like the good ship Merrimack, doesn't it?) who drove it through Georgetown, Ohio parade and made it, despite a cantankerous carburetor.
Eye stopper at O.V.A.M. Show, Georgetown, Ohio was this three-ton James Reid Engine converted to LP by Russell and Ronnie Burbee who bought it at Junction City, Ohio. It was manufactured at Oil City, Pennsylvania for work in the oil fields, made to run on natural gas. Note auxiliary cylinder which pumps fuel into main cylinder.
Among the large antique tractors were, of course, the Rumely Oil-Pulls, with Jack Maple putting the big 30-60 through its paces at the Baker Fan. Jack is a master at figuring out the problems, whenever a Rumely needs its 'medicine doctored'.
Even Secretary Stanley Mack was able to toss off his official burdens long enough, now and then, to snatch a few moments of real fun, driving his 10-20 IHC-Titan over the reunion grounds, despite the fact that he hadn't yet whipped the carburetor trouble by show time. Some say that men are better drivers than women. The opposite sex claims differently. But even his lovely wife, Mary Mack, (not spelled Merrimack), couldn't make old Titan run better, as she coaxed the old giant through the downtown parade.
And speaking of parades--the Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Association had one of the most beautiful parades through the main thoroughfares of Georgetown, Ohio, that we have ever witnessed. The old-time classical cars, the horse and buggy vehicles conveying their gay-nineties ladies and gentlemen, the smoke-belching steam engines and antique tractors, passing in dignity before the beautiful old Georgetown courthouse lent a nostalgic charm to this quaint southern Ohio community. It was very well organized and planned, made possible by full cooperation of all local law-enforcement agencies. (Who says it doesn't help to have a good lawyer, interested in gas tractors, on your side?) For Joe Martin, legal-beagle for O. V. A. M., had fetched his own 10-20 McCormick-Deering tractor over for the three-day occasion.
'We've had this McCormick-Deering Tractor in our family since the day it arrived on a railroad car back in 1925,' says attorney Martin--just 'Joe' to the boys. Joe was the hardest guy to find on the O. V. A. M. grounds. Dressed in common farm overalls, looking most illegal, he was either running his tractor here and there, or way up on the grain wagon pitching bundles or blowing the straw-stack, same as anyone else. (What a lawyer for such an organization-- cigar-chewing Joe Martin is the best!) No wonder the O. V. A. M. had its troubles solved legally--and without all the usual legal entanglements.
Guess who's having fun? Victor Koteen of Russelville, Ohio sneaks a few drops of oil from his engineer's oil-can into a secret, concealed pipe which leads over to the stack exhaust and makes 'real smoke'. Powered by a 1? HP McCormick-Deering gas engine, it looks, acts and sounds like a real-for-sure steam thresh engine. And when he gets up to 50 pounds of air pressure, he can blow his merry-go-round whistle just as good as if it were steam. (If only Victor had changed a few lines and made it look like a Townsend!) But why spoil his fun!
21-75 Baker, plus one horsepower booster. There was all kind of real horsepower at the Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Show, Georgetown, Ohio. Baker is owned by Edwin Fiscus, Vice-President of Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Association.
(Yes, I know it's a steam engine but it goes well with the Show Report-we have to let steam sneak in now and then just as we do with a gas picture once in awhile in I.M.A.-Anna Mae)
One of the outstanding exhibits at the Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Show was the Panorama of Steam Over a Century and a Half, which occupied a huge trailer owned and operated by Lee Hunter and Bill Whelan. Many of the operating models were of steam threshing engines (climbing hills before your eyes), steam locomotives in various stages of mechanical evolution, steam boats, canal barges, and stationary engines from the simplest to the most intricate 'grass-hopper variety. It was worth) of a Worlds Fair honorarium in the Science Hall of Fame.
Our congratulations to the 'Historic Launching of the First O. V. A. M.'-a show which had its humble beginnings in the basement of the linger Neal mansion when a group discovered they had twenty-live old tractors in an eighteen-mile radius, and decided then and there to have a show.
For those three fun-packed Good Old Days, we can but say, 'Thank you', to all who worked so hard to make it 'that-a-ways'.