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Old Iron and Young Collectors

I just visited the Pawnee show this past weekend and a great show it was. I have had two main hobbies over the years, radio control model airplanes and old iron. In the model airplane hobby it was a struggle to get the young boys and girls involved for several reasons; money, help from home. It seems to me it is the same in the engine/tractor hobby. At the show I saw a great many young visitors but very few that were involved in the display of old iron. It seems to me the same problem may be as in model airplanes, money and no help from home. Also many of the exhibitors like me, have hair turning a lighter color and may not have kids at home, but my Grandson is going to be involved with me on some projects. Should we not teach the young the fun and enjoyment of keeping history for others to see and the knowledge it brings? Model Ts have gone down in value over the past few years because the people that used to drive them are getting fewer. Will that happen to our tractors and engines? What are your suggestions? – Gene

I wish I knew. As I have posted before, I have a son age 16 that has absolutely NO INTEREST in my hobby. I have tried and tried to get him involved, as has my father, but to no avail. It seems that many younger folks just don't have the interest in the past that we do and I feel that I was born many years too late myself. I would love to have been around in the days of the great tractors and when our beloved engines were in use. I also am involved in Bluegrass music and go to a few festivals each year. And again, no real interest by young people. I would love to have been around to get to meet Bill Monroe, or many others of the music business while they were still alive! -- David

Hey, some younger people get in on it by themselves. I saw a few engines and thought that it would be something worth working for. One year later and a lot of work I had enough to buy my Jeager. I am interested in the way things were done and I think that the past should be preserved.

I also got into this by myself last year and I love it. I was going to shows since I was 6 because of my dad’s Oliver that he bought for the acreage but sold the acreage and he restored it and showed it. That was my first exposure to engines and then one day while I was at a friends house in the city they dug up an FH and an Iron Horse. I decided to get them going for a challenge and then found out that people collect, restore and show these engines. Last show season was great and since then I have gotten some more flywheel type engines. There should be more youngsters in this hobby and I have now just turned 16 (it is even better that I have my driver’s license) I am just about the only young one up here but most parents do not support these type of things. My parents do not pay for any of my stuff, but they are supportive of my new hobby. -- Andrew

So far, my four year old son Daniel has "Old Iron Fever" and I am very glad. He gets so excited when I bring home another chunk of old iron no matter what condition it is in. But, I have to tell you fellows that I started praying for him 2 years before he was born. I asked the Lord for a healthy son and one that would share my interests and the Lord has definitely answered my prayers and more. I don't mean to preach here, I just feel like I have been blessed and I wanted to share my joy with everyone here. Unfortunately, I have noticed already this show season that some of the older folks that have always been at the shows for as long as I can remember, just aren't around this year. This is a sad thing so I can only hope that some of the younger crowd will start filling in the vacant spots at the shows. I will post a picture of our Little Engine Collector below getting his 1 HP Stover "V" ready to run. -- Tony

The shows, the shows are the key. Lots of folks don't know anything about old iron because they've never been around it, and never known there were other people who shared their interests by fiddling with old things. I had always been made fun of for messing around with old things and making them work. It was a joke among my friends and family. I had the Havana engine that I posted about a few weeks ago, and until a friend took me to a show in Fredericksburg and I saw some hit& misses running, I wasn't even sure it was an engine. I think a lot of younger folks just don't know about it because they haven't had the opportunity to be around it. As far as taking an interest and being 16, it might have to wait a few years. My dad liked to garden, I hated it and was busy being worried about what the girls were doing, and NOT being like my dad. Fifteen years later I have 7 acres of vegetables. Now that I'm working on that engine, folks see me excited about it and making progress, and every time I go out to tinker with it, it’s a social event. People want to help, and they ask questions. I get calls asking about what I got done last night and when am I going to get to work on it again... they want to be there. In the rebuilding process, each bolt that comes out is a success. I think lots of people just haven't been exposed enough to have any idea on what to do or how to do it when it comes to tackling things like that. Most people around here don't know what hit & misses are, the same way I didn’t know. I just want to have this thing running something at community events and take it to shows so people get interested. – Matt

I’m glad to see that there are some younger fellows interested in this hobby. I was 60 when I got my first engine and now I am soon to be 66. I have about 45 plus engines, but I’m too old to enjoy them, so most will have to go. I wish that I had started sooner. Keep up the hard work guys and enjoy every day of it. – Sonny

I am 19 and I have been fixing stuff up since I was 12. I still am mostly into Briggs motors, but I do have a 4 hp Novo and a few small tractors (Gibson, gravely, etc.) I try to go to as many shows as I can, but between college and work, it can be tough to get there. Also, I can't afford to go to a lot of the shows because of current fuel prices and the fact that to drive to anything over 3 hours away, my truck probably wouldn't make it. I have a Briggs motor belted to a compressor with a small steam whistle, and it really is fun to see the smiles that that thing can bring in people. It is a wonderful hobby to be in. -- Paul

I went to the Pawnee show Saturday. There were a lot of young people there and at least they were showing up which is different from some shows I have been to. This was the first time for me to go to this show but I will definitely be back next year. -- Ed

Well, I’m sure there are more young people out there than you will find on here. The problem (similar to mine) is that they have no one to show them what this hobby is all about. I started going to fairs a couple years ago but I had to find the engines myself. Nobody in my family was really interested. If we want to find more younger enthusiasts, we have to set up in more places. I was planning to set up at one or two of the cheap entry Car Cruise/Shows. It would be a good place to catch the kid that doesn’t really have an interest in cars but may take a liking to tractors or engines. You never know. I wish that someone could have shown me the engines many years before I found them. It sure has kept me intrigued since I started! -- Frank

I got my first engine when I was 16. It was a 118 Fairbanks Morse given to me by a man who was in the oil business. I'm 25 now and have about a dozen engines. I too was at the Pawnee show and I was pretty easy to spot with my 35hp Superior. I wonder if anyone got a picture of me climbing the flywheels to start it? If you were there and happened to see the 25hp Superior belted to the rock crusher, I was the one that got flung into the air when the magneto fired when it wasn’t supposed to. Luckily I landed on my arse so I only suffered brain damage. -- Doug

I turn 25 years old next week (is it all down hill from here?) I’ve been around engines since as long as I can remember when my parents started in vintage cars in our local club that caters for cars, tractors, steam and engines. I can remember the gents (some sadly departed) encouraging me to ask questions and get involved and I feel my knowledge interest and skill in this hobby is a testament to them. They had me emptying water out of the hopper at the days end. And they had me filling the tanks with just enough fuel to make them run for an hour when then again I’d refill them and start them again. I didn’t realize how pointless it was back then but at the time I loved every moment (and still do). My father and me are pushing about 40 or so engines between us and we've built a new shed recently specifically for engines. I’m looking straight down the barrel at the big age of 30, which is quite frankly scary. I’ve been with the same girl now just over 2 years and I know she wants to go to the next stage (god help me) and I’m starting a new job in 10 days which I’ve been working towards for the last five years... so its all happening! I know for a fact that if I didn’t have the engines I wouldn’t be here! – Adam

Adam I am 60 and it is not down hill yet in fact I think the hill is getting steeper but hey it is fun. -- Joe

Adam your eyes and ears may go, but I don't think we ever get over this old iron disease. Best regards, -- Arthur (age 76)

In the Phoenix, Ariz. area we have a couple of shows that make some exhibits available to grade school field trips free of charge. This is a structured event that makes engine, tractor, and related machinery available to watch. The fourth grade seems to be the age group the schools want to bring as these things fall into their history lessons. Many young people are exposed. -- Gary

Well it is very interesting to see what everyone has said. I am now 23 and have been collecting since I was 14. My parents or family have no interest in any of my stuff but they support me. I really like steam stuff, and gas tractors also some engines. I feel my collection is starting to overtake me because I almost have no time for anything else. I have 2 traction engines, 13 tractors, 7 gas engines and a bunch of other little things but I can’t seem to get enough of this stuff. Sometimes I wonder if I need to go to a doctor. I’m glad the girl I married is OK with all of this. -- Justin

The only time I went to the Mt. Pleasant show, I was impressed at the number of whole family groups that were into tractors. At the daily parades I remember seeing more than one traction engine being steered by a little kid with his Dad (engineering) and Mom and the grandparents standing by on the footboard. Everybody was proud of the kid but the expression on the kid's face was really something to see. It gives you hope that the younger generation just might take the torch from us Geezers and carry it on for a few more generations. – Elden


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