Pageant of Steam

Dateline: 7 August 2013

Marlene and I went to the 53rd annual Pageant of Steam in Canandaigua, New York, today. It's about 90 minutes from our home so it makes for a nice little day trip. We have been there in years past and I've written about it here before. This post will be a collection of pictures with comments.

Though the show is much the same from year to year, we always enjoy ourselves. The people who attend the show are, for the most part, salt-of-the-earth folks. I didn't see any carnival-type weirdos, or dirty bikers. I saw one guy covered with tattoos, but he was the exception to the rule (tattoos bug me). 

Marlene and I hopped on a slow-moving wagon that was being pulled by a steam tractor like the one in the picture above. They are monster machines.

The #1 reason we go to the steam show is to see what we can find in the extensive flea market. That fanning mill above is the kind of stuff I love to discover. It had a price of $75 on it. If I had a truck and a place to store it, I would have bought that in a heartbeat.

That's an old Planet Jr. walk-behind tractor, with a Planet Jr. edging tool leaning against it. The name of my home business, Planet Whizbang, is derived from the Planet Jr. name, and my logo is derived from the Planet Jr. logo. Planet Jr. was once the most well-known agricultural implement company in America. I don't have a personal interest in those old walk-behind tractors, but it's neat to see them when they show up.

Lookee there, in the back. It's an old Clipper bean sorter—a wonderful treadle-powered tool. I looked for one of those for a long time before finding one at an antique store a few years ago. It's currently stored in my mother-in-law's garage. 

Old hit-and-miss engines like you see here are all over the show grounds. Big ones and little ones. Broken ones and restored ones. These engines were gasoline or kerosene powered and were once utilized to operate all kinds of machines on American farmsteads, back in the day. Power was transmitted from the engine to the machine by a long drive-belt.

This guy had a hit-and-miss engine (In the background) hooked up to a corn grinder, and it was grinding away.

That's a drag saw. Cut your tree down, position the drag saw up next to it, fire up the engine, and watch it cut chunks of firewood for you. Drag saws were very popular tools in the forested regions of America in the early 1900s.

This display of Maytag washing machines is at the steam show every year. There are 31 of them, spanning the years 1921 to 1959. Marlene looked at that row and commented that the person who set up the display must have a lot of storage space. That's something we're mighty short of around our place.

And here we have the deluxe gas-powered 1926 Maytag washing machine. I can only imagine how thrilled the farmwife who got this machine must have been. The average farm family back then probably had an average of 7 or 8 children. That's a lotta clothes to wash. But I'm sure those children did not have anywhere near as many clothes to take care of as the average American boy or girl in 2013.

Marlene pointed this mini New Idea manure spreader out to me. 12A, the homestead tractor wagon I now use was made from an old New Idea spreader just like that (but full size). It did not, however, look like that when my son pulled it out of the weeds. Click Here to see some pictures from last year when I was working to restore the wagon.

That's a restored Allis-Chalmers Corliss steam engine and a electricity-generating alternator. That device produced electrical power on Macinac Island in Michigan up until 1948. It was a decentralized power-producing device. The flywheel is 12-feet in diameter and weighs over nine tons. The engine and flywheel were turning slow and steady for the show. Steam was piped into the building from a large wood boiler out in back. Very impressive.

I found some great finds at the flea market. The man I bought the hand-forged tool above from told me that it is a cheese curd cutter. I'm pretty sure he is incorrect about that, but I didn't dispute his claim. I did some internet research when I got home and it is a pumpkin chopper, circa 1800-1850. I posted a picture of a much larger chopper like this a few years ago from the steam show (Click Here to see it).

You're probably wondering why I would buy a pumpkin chopper. Well, I love old, hand-forged agrarian tools. The price tag said $18. I asked the man if he would take $15 and he said yes. I couldn't resist. Who knows, someday I may need a pumpkin chopper to chop up pumpkins into small pieces before feeding them to my cattle. If the pieces are too big, the critters could choke.

Besides that, I have been thinking a lot more about building a Planet Whizbang workshop-warehouse-shipping facility-store. It would be a place where I could get my home business better organized and where people could come to see the different products I sell. The store would be a little like an agrarian museum, with old agricultural implements... like pumpkin choppers. I'm a long way from seeing that idea come to fruition, but it sure would be nice.

This is another old iron tool that caught my eye. When I saw the price of $5 I grabbed it quick and reached in my pocket for the money. I know exactly what this tool is because I already have one just like it. The one I have belonged to my grandfather, Percy O. Philbrick, a potato farmer from Fort Fairfield, Maine. It came to me from my mother, who painted it black and hung it from a beam in her kitchen. She told me her father used it to pull logs out of the woods. Last falI used the tool for the same purpose. It works just fine and I'm delighted to now have two.

I paid two bucks for this old, four-sided, wood-and-leather strop. I've never seen one like it and I love the shape of the handle. I will replace the leather on the sides and this will be a handy tool to have around.

My final buy of the day was these 21 issues of Blair & Ketcham's Country Journal magazine from the 1980s, and one Farmstead magazine. Country Journal was a great magazine back then. That there is a lot of information and inspiration for six dollars.


Ray said...

Nice post, Herrick! It is almost like being able to attend the show myself.

Laura said...

I stumbled across your blog while trying to identify a tool I've been given. I've been told it's a beet chopper (approx. early 20C), although it looks like a branding iron to me. It also could be a cheese curd cutter/pumpkin chopper because it's very similar to your picture above. a fairly new Seventh-day Adventist Christian, I loved reading your articles on Christian Agrarianism, because this is what the Adventist movement teaches we should all be doing. It strongly advocates moving to the country, becoming more self-sufficient, home-schooling and staying close to God and glorifying His name in all things.
I love learning to lean on God in everything I do, but because I'm quite a pathetic female on my own, the wrong side of fifty, the thought of trying to live closer to the land and coming out of the world is a little bit scary at times. Your articles, however, are very encouraging and uplifting and make the idea of becoming an agrarian sound like a definite possibility. Thank you very much for your wonderful advice and information.
Oh and if you would like my beet chopper/cheese curd cutter/pumpkin chopper it is yours for the cost of postage. I live in the Highlands of Scotland and would be happy to send it to someone like yourself who I know would cherish it and find a good use for it. I have pictures if you're interested.
God bless you and your family.