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August 2014

The Rain - Then the Sun

By Paul Harvey

Coolspring Power Museum events and rain are almost synonymous, this year being no exception.  Most of our exhibitors, flea marketers, and volunteers come prepared, despite the prognosticator's predictions for sun or wet.  This year we were aware of some rain in the forecast during midweek, but otherwise clear.  What a surprise was in store!  This is that story.  

The museum gates open at noon on Tuesdays of show week for exhibitors and flea marketers to have time to set up their prizes.  By Tuesday evening, the grounds were amazingly full with so much to see.  As I toured the grounds, I found many interesting engines including Photo 1, a unique 5 hp vertical Spang engine and pump jack that was built in Butler, Pennsylvania.  "The big and the little," as seen in Photo 2, displays a 2 hp headless Witte, the smallest built,  perched on the water hopper of a much larger 22 hp version.  Walking on, I found a 4 hp Reid noted in Photo 3.  This engine was built as an exact, full size replica of the original.  Wooden patterns had to be built and castings poured, then machined to produce such a wonderful piece.  It ran extremely well and sounded exactly like the "real thing."  Photo 4 shows a nice 15 hp Evans built in Butler, Pennsylvania.  It had pumped an oil well for many years before being displayed here.  Consistent with our show theme, "Foreign Engines," Photo 5 is a very nice Millars engine which was built in England.  There were so many more and everyone was enjoying the nice warm evening, anticipating the show.  All was well in Coolspring, and no one really noticed some clouds appearing...

During the night it rained, and rained, and rained.  Torrential rain!  By morning, Little Sandy Creek, normally a quiet brook, was flowing across the show fields, while other areas turned into huge lakes of rain water.  Everyone took the flood in stride despite the creek flowing through the show area as seen in Photo 6.  One person seemed to find the best solution was to stand in it and have a few puffs of his pipe, Photo 7.  A gallant vendor, Photo 8, decided to stay with his wares and sit it out with his faithful dog!  Glad he came with high boots.  By afternoon the water had receded and the sun peeped out to dry and warm things a bit.  After all, the show did not actually start until the next day.  I caught this image, Photo 9, of a very nice Myrick Eclipse engine that afternoon.  Photo 10 is a very interesting concrete block making demonstration, using three vintage, manual block machines.  They traveled from Florida to give the excellent display here.

Again, through the night, the rains came, this time dumping about four inches upon us.  And again the creek crossed the fields and the rainwater lakes grew larger.  Several volunteers spent many hours that night pulling some exhibitors to higher ground and warning others of the potential danger.  The show was to begin in the morning and we were not certain what to expect.  We could not continue if the rains did.

But the first morning of the show saw the clouds quickly passing with a beautiful, warm sun shining upon us.  There was much mud and rainwater lakes, but everyone was smiling.  We were back to normal and the show would go on!  Consistent with the show theme, "Foreign Engines," Brian Triebner from Canada explains the featured engine, the Sharrar and Gross, Photo 11,  built in Germany.  It ran flawlessly for the event.   Photo 12 shows a very unique rotary valve Crossley engine made in England.  Instead of the usual poppet valves, the intake and exhaust for this machine was accomplished by a rotating cylinder in the valve chamber.  The largest of the surviving Schleicher Schumm slide valve engines, this 10 hp example is shown in Photo 13.  Built in 1884 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it suffered many modifications over the years and now has been restored to its original splendor.   It is magnificent.  Photo 14 is a most unusual side-by-side twin-cylinder engine.  The maker is unknown.  Interestingly, one cylinder runs throttling, while the other is hit and miss, used only when more power is needed.  A delight to see demonstrated.  Briggs and Stratton has manufactured small air cooled engines for many, many years and Photo 15 shows the best display of their early models that I have ever seen, and there are twice as many as the photo shows.

As evening approached with a clear warm sky, the enthusiasm and show continued in the many museum buildings.  No sign of rain tonight.  A new arrival to the Friends Exhibition Hall, Photo 16, is this 35 hp Backus engine, built in Newark, New Jersey.  It is the largest Backus known and sports an older restoration.  Next door, at Pat's Place, there was also a beehive of activity.  A beautiful, opposed piston Kansas City "Lightning" was operating as seen in Photo 17.  They are so complicated yet run so effortlessly.   My high point of the evening was to see the 65 hp, type DH,  DelaVergne engine finally come to life again. Its smooth lines and design has always made it a favorite of mine.  It originally pumped crude oil for the Buckeye Pipe Line Company in Ohio and has not run for over 50 years.  Photo 18 shows Mike at the controls for its maiden run. 

The next day of the show, Friday, saw the beautiful weather continue with some drying in the fields.  It was a very big day with many visitors as well as new exhibitors.  Many of the new exhibitors were placed in the area on the hill between the Friends Exhibition Hall, Pat's Place, and the Snow Building.  Soon the area became a bustling city of engine activity, reminiscent of  the story of Pithole City of the oil boom era where a city appeared one day and vanished the next.  See Photo 19.  Later we were honored by the visit of an old friend, Bob Meixell from Maine.  I had visited his fine engines several times long ago, and was happy to have him do an honorary start of the 600 hp Snow, as shown in Photo 20.    

Our final day, Saturday,  saw the continuation of the great weather.  By noon many were departing, taking advantage of the drier ground.  Still on display was this very unusual Parmaco engine, Photo 21, made in Parkersburg, West VirginiaPhoto 22 is a very nicely restored Spanish engine which was the only representative from that country.  In all it was a great show, and the floods seemed forgotten.  I guess that the old adage, "all's well that ends well" is certainly true.  Many thanks to all whose hard work and perseverance made the show possible!

Saturday evening, as usual, we all decided to relax and grill some burgers and hot dogs before facing the clean up the next day.  Here, I was greeted with a marvelous surprise; a birthday gift of a John Deere, Model B tractor.   See Photo 23. I am so grateful to all who made it possible!  It is a 1944 model and so am I, so we shall share our 70th year together.  Thanks, guys!!!!

The June show is now history but there is more to come this year from Coolspring.  Please call 814-849-6883 for all events and schedules.  See you then! 


Photo 1: 5 hp vertical Spang engine and pump jack

Witte Engines

Photo 2: 2 hp Witte engine displayed on a 22 hp Witte engine

Reid Replica Engine

Photo 3: Replica 4 hp Reid engine

Evans Engine

Photo 4: 15 hp Evans engine

Millars Engine

Photo 5: Millars engine built in England


Photo 6: Little Sandy Creek intrudes on the showgrounds

Cooling Feet

Photo 7: Taking the flood in stride

Persistent Vendor

Photo 8: Dealing with the flood

Eclipse Engine

Photo 9: Myrick Eclipse engine

Concrete Block Making Demo

Photo 10: Demonstration of concrete block making

Sharrar and Gross Engine

Photo 11: Brian explains the Sharrar and Gross engine

Rotary Valve Crossley Engine

Photo 12: Rotary valve Crossley engine

Schleicher Schumm

Photo 13: 10 hp Schleicher Schumm slide valve engine

Side by Side Twin Engine

Photo 14: Side by side twin-cylinder engine

Briggs and Stratton Engines

Photo 15: Early Briggs and Stratton engines

Backus Engine

Photo 16: 35 hp Backus engine arriving for display

Lightning Engine

Photo 17: "Kansas City" Lightning engine

DeLaVergne Engine

Photo 18: After 50 years of silence the DeLaVergne runs

Overflow Displays

Photo 19: Even more displays on the hill

Bob Starts the Snow

Photo 20: Bob starts the 600 hp Snow engine

Unusual Parmaco

Photo 21: Unusual Parmaco engine

Spanish Engine

Photo 22: Restored Spanish engine

Birthday Surprise

Photo 23: Paul's birthday surprise


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