Antique machines at Ironmaster Days represent heritage

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 24, 2001

Its sound echoed across the street at Ironmaster Days.

Sunday, June 24, 2001

Its sound echoed across the street at Ironmaster Days. Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, bang, whoosh, whoosh, whoosh To many Lawrence Countians, like Don Mootz, that call of an old "hit and miss" engine sounds like music.

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"These things are a hobby of mine," he said, excitement dancing from his eyes like spark plug fire. "I just love them."

At this week’s festival, Mootz showed off his pride and joy – a 1939 John Deere, one of the first made with such an engine.

A hand crank of the wheel fired it up, reminding onlookers, as well as Mootz, of earlier times.

"I remember Dad driving this in when he got it."

After salvaging the tractor from an overgrowth of brush, Mootz spent five years restoring the green and yellow farm machine. It took two years of careful work just to get the engine apart, he said.

Mootz displayed other hit and miss machines, still kept in working order – one a Maytag washing machine sold in 1928 for $175, or $20 down and $13 a month.

Antique engine lovers and clubs from Kentucky, North Carolina and other places came toting their projects, too. Huge turn-of-the-century gasoline engines that fire only a few times every minute. Homemade tiny tractors. An engine still used by local Amish to churn out ice cream.

The machines represented hours upon hours in workshops. Many had been painstakingly rescued from rust, their parts retooled a little at a time until working.

And, they all stirred one thing in throngs of passersby – heritage.

A past renewed so those who never heard the sound could hear it now.

Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, bang