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Many thanks to fjorder and Les for their comments to yesterday’s post.  To follow fjorder’s link, check out this youtube of a tractor using a PT boat Packard V-12.  Against this context of of tractor/tug parallels, including references to “tractor tugs,”  I offer a reprise of fotos and reportage on the Pageant of Steam.  For me, seeing fire shoot out the “straight pipes”  was magical.  Remember . . . double click enlarges most fotos.

Although wood or even straw could have been used, coal created the fire  under the boiler on this Frick Eclipse built

96 years ago.  I look at a steamer like this and imagine what its contemporary technology was:  Pegasus was 8 years old when this left the factory;  Grouper was three, and Pioneer was an adult 30

The Pageant features not only wonderfully restored steamers like this pre-1910 Sawyer-Massey but also farm and craft machines that these engines would power like

the belt-powered  McCorrmick-Deering thresher, 1912 hay baler, and a sawmill . . . all operating.

Or here, the 6-hp engine turning this roasting spit (oh . . . that beef turning over the coals smelled irresistible) was manufactured by

Fairbanks Morse, who started with farm machines and transitioned into engines for locomotives and ships.

Caterpillar (who made the “Sixty” between 1925 and 1931) started with farm equipment and evolved into their  huge contemporary array of heavy engines and machines.

Guess the function of the curved rod tipped with a red knob and located between the rear wheels of this Fageol?

Call it a huge mechanical joy stick if you wish . . . it’s a tiller.  Fageols also had no clutch.  The company eventually evolved into Peterbilt.

Back to  the “towing competition” . . . note the “sled” pulled by the competitors;  the large rectangular weight over the wheels of the yellow sled winches forward as the sled moves, shifting weight onto the read wheels of the tractor making it increasingly heavy to pull.  These tractors, like the Minneapolis-Moline here and

and this Oliver 77 were the “rides” of my growing up.  I drove an identical Oliver as a 12-year-old, although if ever I’d driven as these were the other night . . . I can’t imagine I’d be alive today.  The red weights way forward keep the front wheels down during a pull.

Some nomenclature for tractor pulls:  this course was laid out over 300 feet, hence, the signs marking off increments like 100′, 200′ . . . etc.  If a tractor pulls past the 300′ mark, it gets referred to as a “full pull” like a strike in bowling or a homerun in baseball.

Tractors have names too like Deutzilla (click on this link for screaming turbos, flames and smoke),

Miss Used,

and Father’s Pride.  For more info on the “pullers,”  here representing classes like “limited light farm pro” and limited light super stock,” click here.

Call this my J. M. W. Turner version of an after dark foto:  the tractor disappears into blurred movement;  next time I go to a tractor pull . . . oh, yeah I will . . .  I’m making video!

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who’s still wondering about parallels between the Pageant and the impending Great North River Tugboat Race .

What?!!  Blue-helmeted, be-safetyglassed worker in a manhole . . .  blue looks like our electric company, ConEdison.  But why on Tugster?  Granted, ConEdison maintains 105 miles of steam pipes under Manhattan alone.  As the worker I spoke to put it . . . “for steam, we’re the only game in town.”  But steam . . . on a 90-degree day?

This 600-pound device, featured on Tugster once before here, needs 170 pounds of pressure to function, so

here we are, near South Street Seaport on the 75th anniversary of the inaugural arrival of SS  Normandie in New York . . . and I suppose you want to hear this three-chimed whistle saved by chance from the scrapyard.  Well,

. . . you will, but before you listen, let me share a short story I heard this morning from Conrad H. Milster,  the current custodian of the device:  the whistle also blew on the 50th anniversary, scheduled to blow every hour.  The neighborhood merchants –AROUND the area called South Street Seaport–complained about the noise, and the program was cancelled.  Imagine, a ship’s whistle was classified as NOISE.  Today, all seemed harmonious and ConEd workers I spoke with were excited to provide the steam.  The whistle calls attention to South Street’s exhibit “Decodence” now through January 2011.

Ready??  Conrad is the man wearing a blue shirt and standing beside a tripod at 15–18 seconds into the video.

Fotos and video by Will Van Dorp.

More of Conrad’s whistles and a quirky rendition of SS Normandie are here and here. Only Bowsprite knows whether she made an artistic decision to leave off the whistle OR the whistle was too small on the drawing to be visible.

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October 2021