There is a local group known as the Rusty Wheels Old Engine Club that stages a public show twice a year at their club site outside of Harrison, Arkansas. Unfortunately, I usually read about how good their shows are in the newspaper after they occur. This year was different however. I ran across an advertisement regarding the show as Retta and I savored our dessert at the ice cream shop, after enjoying a delightful meal at a local diner, a Friday night “tradition” we have recently established. So I spent Saturday at the show, taking in the old machinery while reveling in the beautiful fall weather we have been having.
I had expected that I would see many restored tractors at the show, such as the John Deere 1951 Model A – HC tractor shown above, and the rugged looking steel cog-wheeled John Deere shown below.
I did not expected to see the large variety of interesting additional machinery and activities that were at the fall show. Those items that I can identify, I will. If I can’t, maybe you can fill me in with a helpful comment. Forgive the lengthy post, but the following photographs a but a small sampling of what was available to see.
How about this 1965 Bombardier log skidder? Un-restored, but it is still in daily use by a local logging crew. And obviously, an opinionated owner ;)
This 1947 John Deere/Lindeman 14 horsepower crawler would come in handy from time to time in my woods.
It’s funny, but every time I made it a point to prominently display my camera (I would pretend to be fiddling with the controls), somebody would take the opportunity to drive right in front of me in their unique machines, such as the gentleman in the home-built buggy, seen above.
Shortly after lunch, the tractor pulling competition was scheduled to begin, so the preparatory tractor weigh-ins began about noon. The Allis-Chalmers tractor (pictured above) has just been weighed, and is driving off the scale to await his chance to pull the sled.
For those of you who may not be familiar with tractor pulling contests, here are the basics in a nutshell. The tractor is hitched up to a device called a sled, the green piece of machinery shown in the picture above. The sled is engineered with the wheels and axle acting as a fulcrum point, in such a way that the load borne by the tractor increases the further along the track it travels. Eventually, even the most powerful tractor will come to a standstill. The tractor that pulls the sled the furthest is declared the winner, and everyone rejoices afterwards!
But tractor pulling is not limited to conventional farm tractors. Massive, high budget jet-propelled or diesel-propelled tractors compete in larger venues, but here in a more moderate income area, the souped-up tractor of choice for pulling competitions are the lawn tractor, as shown below.
Not the ordinary lawn tractor you would expect to purchase at the local big-box store, but super-duper, highly modified and detailed custom jobs, especially built for these pulling competitions. Some are so highly modified that they resemble a Top Fuel dragster more than a lawn tractor, as you can see in the following photo.
This is a motor sport that you can be competitive in at the top levels without having to budget hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars.
And as you can see above, the participants are generally equipped with an active sense of humor.
The variety of engine types represented at the show was vast, including this operational steam locomotive. The engine only travels about 60-70 feet before it reaches the end of the track and has to back up, but it provides enough distance to show off the operational capabilities of the locomotive.
Not to be outdone by larger equipment, the tabletop engineers also had their trains running up and down the tracks.
This fellow made it his goal to keep this antique engine running the entire duration of the day, so everybody who walked by could see it running. He was on the road to success in this quest, but it was no easy task. He was constantly fiddling with the engine to keep it chugging along, but then what else would you expect from a 1915 Fairbanks Morse 1.5 hp engine?
There were many variations of operational small engine replicas on display and for sale, one of which is shown in the picture above. This kit is manufactured and marketed by a gentleman who lives in the neighborhood, using only a 7″ lathe and small milling machine for the production of his kits.
Various old saw and sawmill equipment was displayed at the Rusty Wheels Old Engine show, such as the tow-able cut-off saw seen above
This horizontal saw is powered by the steam engine located a distance outside the shed. The engine powers the saw via a long belt and pulley system, which you can see in the picture above. There is a large distance separating the engine from the saw for several reasons. This arrangement affords room for long lengths of lumber to be cut, keeps the saw operators out of the smoke and noise from the engine, and protects them from harm should some type of pressure failure occur in the steam engine.
But the most important reason for the distance is to create the grip necessary for the belt to power the saw. The sagging weight of the long belt causes it to exert tremendous pressure onto the surface of the pulleys, thereby reducing slippage to a minimum. Additionally, since the seam that is used to join the two ends of the belt is prone to damage, the extreme length allowed the ends to be trimmed and re-spliced as necessary. The engine would just have to be moved a little closer to the equipment, and all would be operational once again.
Various old industrial equipment was on display, and most had been restored to operating condition, with ongoing demonstrations of the machinery in action. The photograph above shows a cord braiding machine. This machine kept chugging along all day, weaving the brightly colored threads above into the cordage you see spooling onto the reel, seen at the lower left of the photograph above.
I could go on with hundreds of additional photographs, but instead I invite you to see for yourself at the next Rusty Wheels Old Engine show, which comes up again this spring. It is well worth the time, and adult admission is free, children and seniors free-er, of course!
The website for the Rusty Wheels Old Engine Club is www.rustywheels.com.
Spring 2011 Show – June 10th and 11th, 2011
Fall 2011 Show – October 7th and 8th, 2011