Another Year's Draft Horse Classic
September 25, 1999

(Posted on the Internet October 8, 1998)

Bob and Joan Coker moved into their new home on Warbler Drive here in Lake Wildwood just in time to go with Mary and Herb to this year's Annual Draft Horse Classic at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. The show was very similar to last year's but the weather was warm and beautiful instead of cold and raining. Also, we men knew the craft fair booth routine this time around so we let the women cover those while we went directly to the old tractors and one-lung gasoline engines. This Web page focuses on this great stuff for men, and a bit of the draft horse competitions because the good weather allowed a few pictures before sunset.

There were about a dozen one-lung engines on display, dating from 1915 to 1925. The picture below shows a fellow who had several up and running. You can see the one in the foreground driving lots of belts and pulleys and eventually a grinding wheel and crude drill press that he had hammered together just for demonstration of how these engines were used at the turn of the century. The drill press can be seen more clearly in the second picture.

A one-lung engine driving a crude drill press via belts & pulleys.

Another one-lung engine driving another 19th century gadget.

We only had about 20 minutes with these engines and tractors before we had to get together with the women and climb into the arena stands to see the Draft Horse Classic. Thank goodness I snapped these pictures, because only after viewing them at home did I realize the uniqueness of the horseless plow in the picture below. It's a great example of how the new-fangled gasoline engines were put into service as a direct replacement for the horse. Next year I'm going to get to the faire earlier so I can spend more time and ask more questions at these old-time farming equipment displays.
A running engine in front of a horseless plow.

Having realized the importance of the horseless plow in the transition to modern tractors, the picture below is much more interesting to me than when I was there in person taking the picture.

This tractor is a direct descendent of the horseless plow above.

I had time only to read enough of the poster board to learn that the monster engine on the half-track tractor below delivered all of 60 horsepower! We'll all have to get out to next year's Draft Horse Classic to read the complete poster to find more about this magnificent machine. Note the worm gear steering mechanism and all the other straightforward solutions to engineering design challenges. I wonder what the engine compression ratio is? It must be really low to give only 60 horsepower with those monster cylinders!
This must be among the world's first half-tracks.

After these twenty minutes of engineering bliss Bob and I ran to the arena to meet Mary and Joan for the horse show. The show opened with these four beautiful Shires bringing in a carriage with the flags of the United States and Canada, which was well represented with entries. Note the ever-present steel pipes blocking our view, and everyone else's. More on this below.
Grand entrance of the flags and beautiful white Shires.

Below is the winner of the first competition: Americana. The steel bars are well in evidence again. Their purpose was to support a string of tinny speakers, which I worked hard to keep out of these pictures. But I couldn't avoid the pipes, and the railings in front of the stands. The railings were as much of a distraction in person as in these photos. The show's producer directed the carriages to ride right up against the edge of the dirt track, which gave the performers maximum area for riding, but cut off the view of the entire audience who had paid to see the events. Perhaps in coming years someone will notice that enjoyment of the events would be increased several fold if the carriages would stay about twenty feet from the stand railings so the audience could see these beautiful horses and carriages and talented drivers!
Winning entry in the Americana competition.

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