The old machines fair returns to the fairground
After a year off due to the global pandemic, the Jackson County Antique Machinery Show was recently able to make a comeback.
During the 12th annual show, flea markets, food vendors and people driving vintage tractors could be seen spread around the Jackson County Fairgrounds.
Robert Bishop, president of the Jackson County Antique Machinery Association, said there were about 50 tractors and 65 engines at this year’s show. Normally there are about 100 tractors a year without a pandemic.
He said he was happy to put on the show since last year’s show was canceled.
“It’s getting better all the time,” he said.
Don Tempest from North Vernon was among the participants. He brought two engines and a tractor with him to the show.
Developing two and a half horsepower, one of its engines was a Rock Island engine from the early 1920s. The second was a hit-and-miss Maynard engine from the early 1920s.
They are called hit-and-miss because of the way the speed is controlled on them. When trying to reach a certain speed, the governor, a part used to control the speed of an engine, will “knock” by closing the engine’s exhaust valve. Once the engine has exceeded its rated speed, the governor “fails” when opening the exhaust valve.
This process creates a cyclical “whoosh whoosh whoosh pop” sound that can be heard around antique engines or at such machine exhibits, including at the Jackson County Fair and Fort Vallonia Days each year.
Tempets said it’s hard to know when they were made because there weren’t any serial numbers on them, but he roughly figured out the production period based on the parts and engine design.
For their time, Tempest said the motors would be used in anything that uses an electric motor today. Some examples he gave were meat grinders and hacksaws used on farms in the 1920s.
To maintain them, he said keeping them oiled is the most important part.
Tempest also exhibited a 1959 Farmall 240 tractor. It runs on 30 horsepower, and he said it was his favorite tractor.
Only 3,500 such tractors were produced, and Tempest said it was a rare sight at antique machine shows in the region.
He said he was delighted that old machine shows were held again and that he planned to attend more of them this year.
“It’s been a long, dry time, it looks like,” he said.
Eric Thompson of Brown County exhibited another relic at the show: one of the first mass-produced engines by Cummins in 1920. The company was formed in 1919.
The engine was sold through the Sears catalog between 1919 and 1921. It cost $ 69 and was sold under the Thermoil brand, which was owned by Cummins.
In today’s money, Thompson said it would be around $ 2,000.
Between 1,000 and 2,000 such engines have been produced. He runs a horse and a half and weighs 350 pounds.
Engines similar to this today weigh the same but run at around 100 times the power at 150 horsepower.
“In 100 years, we have improved our power by about 100 times,” he said.
At the show, the motor was used to create a fishing line by a gear attached to it. The engine is a compression ignition engine, which means that compressed air is created by its mechanics to ignite the fuel inside the engine to keep it running.
Compared to a load-break engine, Thompson said compression-ignition engines are more like a “blow-and-blow” engine.
Olive oil, peanut oil, kerosene and diesel fuel can be used to power the engine, Thompson said.
While a horse-and-a-half horsepower seems slow, Thompson said some initial intentions of the owners of the engines were to prevent people from pumping water themselves or grinding corn to make flour.
Normally the engine would be hand cranked, but Thompson’s engine had electric start, so he wouldn’t have to. He said he had six stitches from hitting himself with the crank at one point.
Thompson also exhibited two Italian tractors, one from 1970 made by CAST and another from 1980 made by Pasquali. They were popular in vineyards in Italy for rough terrain.
As he lives on the edge of the Hoosier National Forest, Thompson said he uses the CAST tractor to haul wood to heat his home.
Finally, a Fairmont rail speeder was on display. It was invented after railway workers put Cummins engines on pump cars to run them on the tracks. In response, Fairmont invented the rail speeder so that the motor was already in the car and could be placed directly on the track. Workers used them to inspect tracks and repair train signals.
It reaches up to 35 mpg and has a 3 foot gauge, so it can only be driven on narrow tracks. Thompson said there were only about three places he could ride them.
The rail speeder was phased out in the 1970s after the invention of the road rail. It is a similar car that can be driven on the highway or on the railroad. It is also faster, has a larger cabin and can have air conditioning and heating.
Thompson said he was with the North American Railcar Operators Association. In the organization, he takes train rides on speeders with other members. He said that on one ride, around 30 people would follow.