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Antique engine show picking up steam

August 14, 1999|By ANDREA ROWLAND

ST. THOMAS, Pa. - A downpour at an antique engine show near Chambersburg on Saturday primed the outdoor event for a 33-acre mud bog.

But the mid-afternoon rain at the C.V. Antique Engine and Machinery Association Inc.'s 17th annual steam and gas show didn't dampen the spirits of guests and participants - many of whom were farmers.

"You won't hear me complain. I don't mind getting a little bit wet," said farmer Bob Brindle, of St. Thomas. "I wish it would've started raining like this a couple months ago."

Brindle and most of the several thousand people in attendance huddled under tin sheds, tents and vendor overhangs during the 20-minute shower, which marked the end of the event's popular tractor parade.

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Throngs of onlookers lined the dirt parade route to watch 3-year-old Todd Hull and the owners of nearly 400 other tractors dating from 1897 to the late 1960s bump, rumble and burp black smoke.

"I'm going to drive this tractor all by myself," said Todd, of St. Thomas. The youngster perched behind the wheel of a 1955 McCormick Farmall that his father, Tom Hull, said he has been teaching his son to drive.

Kay Hite, of Chambersburg, led a fleet of son-in-law Edward Helman's early 1960s Panzers, small tractors that resemble riding lawn mowers.

Stanley Sollenberger, of Chambersburg, said he restored the red 1940 Massey Harris tractor that once belonged to his father. Sollenberger's 2-year-old grandson, Jason, sat behind the wheel.

"There are more tractors this year than there have ever been," said parade announcer Stanley "Doc" Stratton, treasurer of the C.V. Antique Engine and Machinery Association Inc.

The group's biggest fund-raiser, which highlights Franklin County's agricultural and mechanical history, is growing every year, Stratton said.

The three-day event boasts free admission and parking, and features daily parades, steam engine and tractor displays, sawmilling, stone crushing, threshing, tractor pulls, a flea market, a large consignment auction and lots of food.

Food vendors fried and scrambled 60 dozen eggs for breakfast on Saturday, and had sold 2,200 chicken halves, three whole hogs and four hams since the event began Friday, Stratton said.

The steamed corn on the cob was a big hit, and picnic tables were packed with people eating fresh roasted peanuts, barbecue and roast pork sandwiches, french fries, ice cream and homemade pies.

A Native American artifacts display drew crowds to the C.V. museum, and more than 100 vendors flanked the food area, selling everything from cast iron pots to macram lawn chairs.

Thomas Turf & Toy owner Howard Thomas, of Hagerstown, said his toy tractors and farm implements were big sellers at the show.

But it was the antique farm equipment that really drew fans to the venue.

"You've got big boys with their big toys, and they come here to play," said Terry Lutz, who traveled 80 miles from Lakedale, Pa., to display his classic farm equipment.

Lutz said he quit farming several years ago, but "I still enjoy the old tractors and steam engines."

Exhaust from hundreds of steam and gas engines, including scores of noisy "hit and miss" engines, mingled with the scents of peanut oil and barbecue in the air.

A massive self-contained 1930 Oil Field Engine owned by John Roop, of Walkersville, Md., once ran off natural gas taken directly from the ground, but was fueled by propane from a tank at the show, Roop said.

Honey Grove, Pa., resident Herbert Burd's antique water-pump display was one of the show's most unusual attractions.

"I started going to these shows a few years ago, and I just didn't see any water pumps," Burd said. He restored two pumps from his childhood farm and continues to build upon his collection, he said.

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