Chance encounter with a Steam Engine

Discussion in 'General Bike Discussion' started by bmohan55, Aug 16, 2011.

  1. bmohan55

    bmohan55 Senior Member

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    One of the things I enjoy most when I’m out riding is listening to the various sounds. I’m a birdwatcher so normally I’m attuned to “nature” sounds but last Saturday I couldn’t believe my ears. As I crested a hill in rural Chesterfield County I heard the unmistakable sound of a large steam engine. The sound was coming from behind a farm house, there were about 15 nice pick-up trucks lining a gravel driveway leading to the back. I was stopped in the middle of the road, I looked at my fancy bike, my bright multi-colored spandex cycling kit, matching helmet & cycling shoes and thought “I really don’t care how ridiculous I look to them; I’ve just got to go back there and see this”. You see, I’m a sucker for old machines, my daily driver is a 1972 Land Rover that I restored and I’m a regular at the Keystone Antique Tractor Museum which houses one of the largest collections in the country. So I very self-consciously pedaled my bike down the driveway and came upon a gathering of older men sitting around watching this wonderful machine run. The owner came up to me and shook my hand and said “Welcome, I’m Leo and I just got her running, isn’t she beautiful.” We spoke for a while and he offered to show me his collection of other old machines but I didn’t want to take him away from his company so I declined. He told me to stop in anytime he’s out working and he’d show me around, an offer that I will certainly take him up on.

    My point is that only on a bike would I have had this wonderful experience and an opportunity to meet a very interesting person. Here is a little clip showing it running...love the sound!


    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/user/bmohan55#p/a/u/0/YB6JglBlkOc]bmohan55's Channel - YouTube[/ame]
     
  2. biker_on_a_budget

    biker_on_a_budget New Member

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    So cool. Here in Indiana we have steam engine events around the state. There was a big one just a couple of weeks ago a couple counties over.
     

  3. Xela

    Xela New Member Tavern Member

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    +1 :thumbsup:
     
  4. SixtyPlus

    SixtyPlus New Member

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    What a great story!
     
  5. Grape Ape

    Grape Ape Younger than Hack Tavern Member

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    That is cool. Now we know where you will be any time you have a free minute.
     
  6. Hazy

    Hazy Well-Known Member

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    One thing I have found with biking is that it allows you to take in the surrounding environment in a way you could never even imagine while in other forms of transportation. That was certainly a kool find there.

    Biker on a budget is right about tractor shows around the state here in Indiana. They are everywhere, and my now 6 year old loves going to every small town festival he can go to because of the old tractor shows. Reminds me so much of myself when I was a kid.

    Thanks for sharing that!:thumbsup:
     
  7. ben

    ben Senior Member Tavern Member

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    Neat story and nice videos. thanks for sharing
     
  8. Poolie

    Poolie New Member

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    Very cool. Watching the video, I guess that's the first time I've ever heard one run because it's not what I expected it to sound like.

    As others also mentioned, one of the things I like so much about a bike is the ability to have a front row seat out in nature.

    Thanks for sharing!
     
  9. Artifex

    Artifex New Member

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    I Grew Up In Southern Indiana

    This is a tad off topic for biking, but growing up in the country the farm behind us was old fashioned to say the least. He farmed with a tractor from the 30's, used mules, shocked his wheat and corn with pumpkins and squash like you see in old pictures, and used steam to put up his harvest. He had all the machinery and an ancient old fellow had a Keck Gonnerman 19 horse steam engine (the factory had been close to my hometown) that he would drive to the farm in the middle of the night (to avoid the cops) for threshing. I remember waking up on a crisp Fall mornings in the mid sixties to that wail of a steam whistle, and I could not throw my clothes on fast enough to get down there and watch them set up. The next several days people would come from all over the region as they threshed the grain and corn and I would be right in the thick of it; well, as close as I was allowed to get to all those exposed belts and whirling gears and wheels. There's nothing like the sound of steam power at work and I count myself fortunate to have been able to see probably one of the last instances of it being actually used on a working farm.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2011
  10. Shocks_Pegs_LUCKY

    Shocks_Pegs_LUCKY New Member

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    That's cool! I would love to build a small steam engine. For no particular reason, really.
     
  11. bmohan55

    bmohan55 Senior Member

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    Now that is a great memory, thanks for sharing. These machines are disappearing and so are the men who ran them. The few that are still around may only be a curiosity now but in their time they built America.
     
  12. photosbymark

    photosbymark New Member

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    It is good to see old stuff still in use. In my flying days that are long past, I once had to turn to avoid a Lockheed Constellation, one of the earliest airliners, and I landed once behind the Concorde. Those were good days.
     
  13. SixtyPlus

    SixtyPlus New Member

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    Speaking of the Concorde, a few years back, a buddy and I were up in WI putting around in a Starduster Two (open cockpit bi-plane) and just happened to look up as we were on a parallel course with the Concorde. That's a picture I'll never forget!
     
  14. Artifex

    Artifex New Member

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    That must have been something, to have been in the air with a Constellation. I still look up when I hear the sound of a prop driven aircraft. Living in the country I can hear them from afar, and there is always something magical about that sound. Can't hear that closed up in a car!
     
  15. photosbymark

    photosbymark New Member

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    I know the starduster II. I had friend that built one. It was a wonderful airplane and from open cockpit to Concorde must have been something. I never will forget watching the Concorde land from the traffic pattern.
     
  16. SixtyPlus

    SixtyPlus New Member

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    Yeah, the Starduster was a good airplane. Enjoyed what little time I had in one. On that particular flight, the Concorde was doing low passes at Oshkosh so we were pretty close to it for a few minutes. We were flying out of a small field near Oshkosh.
     
  17. photosbymark

    photosbymark New Member

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    I was actually at OSH one year the Concorde was there. I wish I had a bike to get around Whitman that week. Still that is a one of a kind crowd. There were maybe 200,000 people there, and not a single piece of trash on the ground. Throw one down and someone standing around would call you out on it. People could leave stuff and no one would mess with it. Once left a camera in one of the cafe's for about an hour before I missed it. Went back and it was right where I left it, and hundreds of people had been through by then.

    Funny some cycling folks are the same type of people. Would stop and fix a flat for a total stranger without a thought. I have seen people offer encouragement to rookies, and try to educate those that think they are smarter than they really are.

    Yet pro cycle racing is a totally different type of crowd. Flipped through vs today and sure enough they were on a climb and nuts again running along side on the track with the riders. Frankly I wonder how people would react if you could train a Doberman to run along side the bike on the climbs. Well with the team concept of racing there, how bout instead of running water bottles have a team member designated to knock the fire out of anyone on track. Hockey has their goons. Haul those clowns off to the gray bar hotel and riders can ride without having to worry about it. That kind of thing at OSH would have you kicked off the grounds in a split second.
     
  18. momule

    momule New Member

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    Bmohan -
    Thanks for sharing this with us. I loved the videos and it was interesting to see in the one the shot of the steam engine running with a wind generator in the background spinning. We have a fairly large community of steam enthusiasts in my part of Missouri and they are a staple at every annual town fair as well as special events during the fall. This summer I was blessed to run across a working steam operated saw mill that was making planks from red oak logs for someone's building project. The younger guys were doing the heavy work and the older guys were oiling and adjusting...several of the older guys were curiously missing ends of fingers.
     
  19. Artifex

    Artifex New Member

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    I finally looked at the video - that is not a steam engine, it is a hit & miss engine. The sharp bang you hear is the compression/firing stroke. These things would be set up in a field with a tank of kerosene or gas, and once started would run for days because they only burn gas on every third or fourth stroke. They would fire, and this would propel the huge flywheel around a few revolutions, and when ti slowed to a certain point the centrifugal governor (look in the hub of the flywheel in the picture) would close enough to open the valve to the carburetor and the points for another power stroke. That's why you hear the "Bang!" and then a few revolutions of the wheel slowing down little by little, then another "Bang!". A steam engine is a steady "Chuff-chuff-chuff-chuff" when it is running, lie this: [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfRaP1CPP0Q]Advance Steam Engine Threshing - YouTube[/ame]
    Still cool stuff!
     
  20. momule

    momule New Member

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    Thanks for that additional information....ya learn something new every day !!