Local engine show ends with high marks

Published 8:19 am Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Star Photo/Curtis Carden  ETAEA president Dave Keplinger stands with his John Deere engine during Saturday’s event.

Star Photo/Curtis Carden
ETAEA president Dave Keplinger stands with his John Deere engine during Saturday’s event.

Antique engine enthusiasts from across the South had the chance to take in the sights and sounds over a three-day period during the 45th annual East Tennessee Crank Up Engine Show, which wrapped up on Saturday, June 4, at Geoff Hutchings’ farm on the Carter/Unicoi County line off Sciota Road.
“We’ve had a lot of people come in,” said Dave Keplinger, president of the East Tennessee Antique Engine Association, which sponsored the event. “We had a lot of spectators and new folks come in. Some people came from the coast of North Carolina to be here today.
“We have people here from the likes of Florida and Kentucky … this brings in a lot of business to our area and we’re very pleased on what this does for the economy of our general location,” he added.
The event kicked off Thursday, June 2, with various engines taking center stage. With the machines on display, the event has been used as a reunion of sorts for individuals, Keplinger said.
Each engine also shares a special story, including a 1921 Associated engine brought by Martin Laws, of Limestone, who attended the event for the first time this year.
“It like what I told those folks over there, these were the first engines after the old steam engines,” Laws said. They’ve got the outside valve and the outside crank. This engine runs off a magnet that generates the ignitor, the ignitor is before the spark plug and that flames the ignition.”
“This is my first event,” he added. “My daddy (Cecil) was a member of this club and I inherited this engine from him and I’ll be 74 years old this year.”
Historical significance was also on display as hundreds took to the event to see the different engines that range in size and speciality, with some engines out in the field at Hutchings’ farm and others placed in lofts where people could view from a display as workers manned the machines.
“We have engines that ran in the oil field, that were used on the farm back in the day,” Keplinger said. “Back before people had electricity, they needed different things on the farm to make life more easier. These hit-and-miss engines ground corn, shelled it, baled hay, pumped water and made electricity. Folks were able to get their jobs done a lot easier.”
And while technology has aided the cause of farmers to not have hit-and-miss engines as a necessity, the Crank Up is used to showcase what history had to offer, Keplinger said.
“We don’t do all of that today, but we show some of it here,” he said. “We have engines here today that are grinding corn mill, we have other engines that are shelling corn and pumping water.”
“This is something we do during the first week of the June. We get a big turnout from people in the community and all across the country,” Keplinger added. “These are things we enjoy doing. We also take time to remember those who have passed on each year in our showbook.”
Keplinger said that a pair of local churches assisted the event by providing ice cream and other treats to the public. It’s that ‘coming together’ attitude and historic mentally that made Hutchings want to pursue creating the event, he said.
“This is an ongoing event that is always held on Geoff’s farm and we greatly appreciate it,” Keplinger said. “Geoff and another feller were sitting and thought ‘we need to do something to preserve this part of history’. There wasn’t a lot going on at that time. The man that had the first engine has since passed a long time ago but this always turns into a great family event.”
Keplinger added that anybody interested in joining the club can contact Geoff at his farm, located on 2405 Sciota Road in Elizabethton.

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