Steam Engine Show Will Revive Days Past

Missouri Ruralist
August 23, 1969

One wet wheat crop in Cooper County received special handling this summer. It took hours of hand labor for members to break open bundles harvested for an old time threshing demonstration to be held during the Missouri Valley Steam Engine Show, set for September 5-7, at Boonville. The sixth annual show will be held at the youth fairgrounds, just off Interstate 70, west of town.

The organization which sponsors the show began with 30 members, each contributing $10. Current membership roll includes 44; a diverse group made up of farmers, construction workers, rural firemen, an auto parts salesman, a railroader, LP gas dealer and store owner.

Members point out proudly that they have never asked for donations, are self-supporting as a non-profit organization and hold regular meetings throughout the year on the first Thursday of each month to prepare for the upcoming show.

Most of the members own the engines exhibited and keep them maintained. Any profits from the fall show go to purchase more equipment.

One of the newly-acquired exhibits is a mammoth "rod" engine once used to pump crude oil in Oklahoma. It weighs 9,400 pounds, has a single 14 1/2-inch piston which travels 20 inches and displaces 3,298 cubic inches. Designed to run on natural gas it has been converted to LP.

Members found the engine at a resort near Bagnell Dam. The resort owner had planned to run water through the engine to have heated water in his swimming pool. He changed his mind when two men got hurt trying to cope with the 66 inch diameter flywheels as they attempted to start it.

In addition to a variety of steam engines, stationary engines, threshers, and sawmill owned by the members, they invite "outside" exhibitors. Anyone taking equipment to the show is supplied gas, water and oil. No entry fee is required.

Admission is $1 for adults, which entitles you to three days of entertainment. Children under 14 are admitted without charge.

During the day a thresher will operate at various times. By the end of the show, members will have threshed from 150 to 160 bushels of wheat. The bundles mentioned earlier, are loaded on wagons and kept in a barn to make sure the grain is dry regardless of weather.

An engine "pulling contest" is another part of the show. A long belt hooked over the pulley of the engine is connected to a four-blade Baker fan. The fan gives an indication of the horsepower created to turn it. Every time speed is doubled, horsepower demand is increased eight times.

The other horsepower "indicator" used to test pulling power is a "Prony brake." This belt-driven device registers horsepower by a needle which travels along a graduated crescent-shape gauge.

A concession stand will be open and barbecued chicken served.