Vintage farm engine show attracts enthusiasts – The Daily Gazette

FORT HUNTER – The distinctive sounds of snort, then snort, then snort, then snort of “hit and miss” antique gasoline farm engines permeated the 45th annual Antique Gas Engine and Tractor Show at the historic site of State of Schoharie Crossing Saturday.

Don Bernaski, president of the Tri-county Old Time Power Association, said it was a bit more expensive this year to run a gallon of premium gasoline in the 100-plus-year-old gas farm engines on display at the annual show, but most older engines were designed to be so efficient that they could idle for 9 hours or more on a single gallon of gasoline.

“It’s cheap,” Bernaski said, looking at several of the antique engines on display as their flywheel motors spun belts pumping out a small amount of water. “What they mean by ‘hit-N-miss’ is that most (petrol engines) fire every time, but engine-N-misses, like mine, will only fire about every 25 revolutions (of its flywheel) to produce power It pulls its piston – goes poof, poof, poof – but in the meantime it uses no gas, all it does is coast , and that was the subject of hit-N-miss years ago – so they can save gas. They can put a man on the moon now, but they can’t save gas.

Bernaski said the Tri-county Old Time Power Association has been around for so long that its members have forgotten what the third county after Fulton and Montgomery is in the title of their group. His best guest is Herkimer County.

Hit-or-miss could be a good description of attending many vintage gasoline engine and tractor shows, events that still happen with certain regulations all over the United States as people with a passion for history and fascinated by the stationary internal combustion engines commonly used on farms at the turn of the century gather to display their old engines and discuss with fellow collectors how to acquire old engines and restore them.

Saturday’s 45th annual Tri-County show was supposed to be associated with Schoharie Crossing’s ‘Canal Days’ event, but Bernaski said it was canceled, he was told, due to the cancellation of too many suppliers. He said his group’s deal with the historic site included a ban on food vendors, except for a mobile Stewart’s Shop ice cream stand, which did good business as perfect weather helped strong attendance despite the cancellation of Canal Days.

“Normally we would both work together, and we had this agreement that we wouldn’t sell food, because (Canal Days) would take care of that there, selling the chicken and the food, the crafts and the group,” Bernaski said. . “But they canceled, if we had known about it earlier, maybe we could have made another deal and gotten somebody to sell hot dogs or something, because we have people who are come here from as far away as Vermont.”

Harry Eisenhauer of Johnstown was one of the exhibitors who attended the show. He said he’s been fascinated by the challenge of working with and using vintage farm engines since he was a teenager. A few of the engines he had exhibited were the “International Harvester Famous 4 Horse Power” engine and the “Six-horse, H-type, Fairbanks” engine.

“It was basic agricultural work, running water pumps, corn mills, saws,” he said.

Eisenhauer explained that older hit-and-miss engines only perform the hit-and-miss action when the engine is operating below its optimum speed. He said that when a load is placed on the motor, it runs continuously without freewheeling the flywheel. He described some of the fun challenges of working with engines.

“If you find one that’s stuck or seized up, you have to take them apart and sometimes make new parts for them, because some parts can be found and some can’t,” he said.

Sometimes farm gas engine shows become places where people find more than spare parts. In the case of Harold Keil Jr., of the village of Oriskany Falls, Oneida County, and his girlfriend Kathy Vrooman met at one such show. They go to many of them.

“We are on show number 7 this summer. We usually hit around 15,” Vrooman said. “There are so many different (engines), you can’t get bored.”

“We go all over the East,” Keil said.

Keil said he had been a collector of old engines since he was a child. On Saturday, he displayed his 1938 Maytag “No. 72-inch gas-powered washing machine engine, a model commonly used on many farms before the widespread adoption of plug-in electric washing machines.

Keil credits his love of old gas engines for helping him stay away from bars and drinking too much. He said he had already pre-ordered his own headstone to include an engraved image of one of his vintage gasoline engines, a 1919 Empire Engine.

“It’s all done,” he said, showing a photo of the stone. “I wasn’t going to wait to die, and I made arrangements.”

“I’m going to be in the back with Mickey Mouse, and he’s going to be cremated and put in the water part (of the engine)”,

“Where is the cooling system,” Keil said, grinning from ear to ear.

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