November 2012

Getting Outta Dodge

By Paul Harvey

There comes a time, every once in a while, that it is good to get away for a few days and leave all the work behind.  A friend of mine always called it, "Getting Outta Dodge."  Quite literally it means getting away from everyday life and doing something different.  Some of our museum friends have a small but enjoyable show in central Massachussets and have wanted me to visit them.  This sounded very enticing!  So in the middle of September, with bright blue Autumn weather, I decided to take a long weekend and visit  friends in New England, advertise our museum, and see some unusual equipment.  And so, this month's story begins.

The journey took me across Southern New York on I-84.  I was aware that Orange County Choppers was near the Newburgh, NY exit and, being the halfway point, this seemed to be a good stop.  This establishment has been made famous by the TV show, American Choppers.  Although this is not what Coolspring is about, it sounded like an interesting adventure.  The showroom and store was very impressive and most interesting was the Fire Bike.  Please see Photo 1.  This machine was put together from parts coming from the entire country and was dedicated to the 343 firefighters who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001 tragedy.  Note all the fire company patches, caps, and helmets that adorn this magnificent bike.

After filling the fuel tank, I was back on the road arriving in Whately, MA about 6 pm.  I stopped by to say hello to Bob and Steve Upham who were hosting the show beginning the next morning.  They have a wonderful small museum, The Whately Engine Museum, that is so reminiscent of Coolspring years ago. It is built on their farm. After so many years of invitations, they were glad that I made the journey.  Whately is a picturesque small New England town in a very rural area of MA.  Later after a great meal at Whately Inn I was happy to turn in for the day.

Back to the Whately Museum the next morning in absolutely beautiful weather.  Photo 2 shows the museum grounds and their big engine building, a converted horse barn.  Even at 8 am visitors and exhibitors were already there preparing their engines for the day.  It was a happy site to wander about and see exhibitors setting up, the boiler being fired with wood with the aroma of smoke, and the engines awakening.  And, best of all, it wasn't a Coolspring Show so I could just watch and enjoy! 

Photo 3 shows one of the hosts, Bob Upham, oiling a steam engine that is running on live steam.  It is a Kendall & Roberts made in Cambridgeport, MA. They have a great live steam exhibit with full size engines as well as models operating.  Bob and his son, Steve, are always at Coolspring operating the engines in our Expo building.  In Photo 4 we see shingles being made with an ancient shingle mill powered by a stationary steam engine and boiler.  This engine is an A. Burlingame made in Worcester, MA.  The shavings and waste were being carried back to the boiler for fuel.

Walking through the exhibitors, I found this beautiful model of an 1895 Mery Engine, built in California.  See Photo 5. The Mery was not very successful, but it was a double-acting, six-cycle engine, the only one of this type.  This model actually runs.  On the other side of the grounds, I found Steve Upham demonstrating the power wood splitter.  See Photo 6. This machine, powered by a gas engine has a large heavy pulley on top that operates a rapidly reciprocating axe head.  One very gingerly places the block of wood on the table and it is instantly split.  It is essential that the wood is held by the sides. Steve does this very well as he still has all his fingers!

Photo 7 shows Chris and Justin tuning up the 40 hp twin-cylinder vertical Bruce-Macbeth engine.  In a few hours, they had it singing a great song and running so smoothly.  This engine came from the collection of the late Dr. John Wilcox and has found a great home here for all to appreciate.  It was originally installed at the Cleveland Gasket Company plant in Cleveland, Ohio where it was belted to a direct current generator to produce electricity.  Incidentally, Bruce-Macbeth was located in Cleveland as well.  In Photo 8 we see a pair of White and Middleton gas engines that were built in Baltimore, MD.  These engines have very graceful lines and a vertical governor head making the appearance very pleasing.  The small one is a 4 hp and the larger is an 11 hp.  These were running faultlessly. 

The next day, after stopping by the Whately Museum to bid all good-bye, I traveled on to Kent, Connecticut to visit the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association grounds and exhibits.  Known as CAMA, there is something for everyone here.  There is a fantastic large steam engine building with running machines and a mining building.  Many great gas engines are also here as well as an authentic oil field display.  They have a 36 inch railway with a vintage steam locomotive from Hawaii, and just erected a working sawmill.  There is also a large construction equipment display with working machines.  Photo 9 shows a circa 1928 Hanson Shovel using a McCormick-Deering power unit.  They have two shows a year which one can find on the CAMA website and it is well worth seeing.

The next day, I traveled the short distance to Roxbury, CT to visit Dudley Diebold and his wonderful tractor collection at the Living History Farm.  Dudley has over 120 great tractors housed in three building and all restored and operational.  This is not the usual collection of farm tractors but an extensive line of big western tractors that farmed the great plains in the early 1900s.  Photo 10 shows his big Reeves and some are even bigger.  What an experience.  There were so many that I had not heard of and so many different mechanisms.  By mid afternoon, I was bidding Dudley good bye and returning to Coolspring.  A wonderful way to get outta Dodge for a weekend! 

By the time this is read, Coolspring Power Museum's Fall Show will be history and everything will be drained and winterized until the spring of 2013.  The Fall Show report will be the topic of the December issue of The Flywheel.  However, during the winter, visitation and tours can be arranged by prior contact.  Please call 814-849-6883 for information.  The following is our schedule for 2013:

April 20 & 21 - Open Days

May 18 & 19 - Open Days

June 13, 14, & 15 - Big Show and Expo

July 20 & 21 - History Day and Truck Show

August 17 & 18 - Open Days

September 21 & 22 - Open Days

October 17, 18, & 19 - Fall Show and Swap Meet

Please follow this publication for monthly articles of The Flywheel and Coolspring Power Museum news.  See you then!

Fire Bike

Photo 1: The Fire Bike at Orange County Choppers

Show Grounds
Photo 2: Morning at the show grounds
Kendall & Roberts Steam Engine

Photo 3: Bob Upham with Kendall & Roberts engine

Making Shingles
Photo 4: Making shingles with steam power
Model Engine
Photo 5: Model of an 1895 Mery engine
Wood Splitter

Photo 6: Steve Upham splitting wood

Bruce McBeth

Photo 7: Chris and Justin with the 40 hp twin-cylinder vertical Bruce-Macbeth engine

White Middletons

Photo 8: Two White and Middleton gas engines

Hanson Shovel

Photo 9: Circa 1928 Hanson shovel

Reeves Tractor

Photo 10: Reeves tractor


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