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Work the old-time way on display for all to appreciate

October 01, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

SMITHSBURG - The soundtrack to Saturday's Smithsburg Steam Engine & Craft Show went something like "putt-putt-putt-putt-POP."

The rhythm of straining engines was music to many ears - a tune of labor and tradition.

With dozens of tractors and other work-performing machines around him, John Rishell stamped wooden shingles with festival logos, then sold them for $1 each. Proceeds went to the Smithsburg Athletic Booster Club.

Despite early rain and chilly air, many people walked the grounds near the Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Co. during Saturday's festival.

They browsed booths of birdhouses, tools, spices and cashmere scarves.

They stopped for country ham and steamers and containers of rib-warming bean soup and Leopard stew.

Rishell and Rory Michael chatted about steam and craft memories from their younger years. Rishell's father helped started the event more than 30 years ago.

"Some of the old guys - it means a lot to them to show people what it used to be like ..." Rishell said of men and machines. "I guess, in their time, they were the real deal."

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The sawmill still is, said Tony Aughinbaugh, who led a team operating a saw with a 48-inch blade.

Hooked up to a 16-horsepower steam engine, the saw moved at 500 revolutions per minute.

"It's not fast, but it's smooth," Aughinbaugh said.

The saw came from A.B. Farquhar Co. of York, Pa., probably in the 1930s, he said.

"With the exception of the skid loader, we do everything the way they would have done it" in a past era, Aughinbaugh said.

Lou Messler loaded each log - a maximum of 32 inches or so in diameter - onto a carriage.

Wayne Leather was, as Aughinbaugh described him, the "dog man," inserting "dogs," or "hold-down hooks," to keep each log in place.

Tim Buhrman was Aughinbaugh's backup sawyer.

Greg Reeder removed wood slabs that the saw blade cut.

By early in the afternoon, the crew had cut about 700 to 800 board feet. A board foot is 12 inches by 12 inches by 1 inch.

Aughinbaugh, who took charge of the sawmill at the event about seven years ago, said many farms used sawmills to cut building beams and wood for fires and cooking stoves.

"This is a heritage for us," he said, as dozens of people sat for a while and watched.

At the invitation of his friend Bob Schwab of Hagerstown, Harold Knisely of Mechanicsburg, Pa., brought some of his engines to the event.

Knisely said farmers used small engines to pump water, crack corn, run washing machines - anything that needed a cranking motion.

A sign he hung on a 1-horsepower International Harvester Mogul joked about his devotion: "My wife told me if I came home with one more engine, she's going to leave me. I'm sure gonna miss that WOMAN!"

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