Retro Tech Days

It seems to be turning into an Independence Day tradition–a visit to the Southeast Old Threshers Reunion in Denton, NC.

First and foremost, threshers reunions (which are held just about anywhere farming goes on) are events where people who collect antique (or not so antique) farm equipment get together and hyper each other into a frenzy of retro technology. This particular threshers reunion is unusual, because there are a number of items that are a permanent part of the venue. Remember, clickie the pickie to get biggie pickie. (Apologies if the page formatting gets wonky–blame Blogger.)

This is the Reid Plantation house. As with all the historic buildings at the Denton Farmpark, it was moved here so that it could be preserved for future generations. (No, in its original state it did not come with the portajohn.) Note how the chimneys are on the outside of the home–this is a southern adaptation to the high heat of summer, serving to keep as much heat out of the house as possible if it were necessary to use the fireplaces during warm weather. Another innovation which we don’t have a picture of was the “summer kitchen”–a separate kitchen that was used during summer to keep the heat completely out of the house (and during harvest time to speed up the processing of food). This house also comes with a smoke house, corn crib, threshing house and many of the other outbuildings a well-equipped farm of the 1800s would have had on hand.

This is a view of the inside the mechanical workshop building. Please note the pulleys and belts, which served to transmit power to the machines. Factories at the beginning of the Industrial Age used this method to transfer power from a single large steam engine to multiple machines. Speaking of a single large steam engine…

We have a 1905 Bates-Corliss steam engine, of just the sort to run a large mill. This one actually did run one for over 30 years. See the large vertical black thing at the far right of the picture? That’s the flywheel, which was cast in two pieces and weighs over 12,000 pounds.

Advancing a bit in the tech spectrum, there is a radio museum, chock full of these… radios that do not have transistors or ICs. Vacuum tubes are the thing in this building. Lots of glowing, heat-producing vacuum tubes. Despite the heat…very cool stuff.

And of course, there tractors. Here we have an example of a hay-powered tractor (towing 4,000 pounds in this picture) with a whopping two horsepower. Of course, there were also some more modern versions, such as these beautifully restored examples…

No need to adjust your computer–it really is pink. I have this terrible internal vision of this thing, drawn in the old cartoonish way, tip-toeing through a muddy field, complaining that its going to get dir-r-r-ty-y-y! Poor wittle pink tractor. 🙂

There are also vendors of all the parts, pieces and services needed to repair and restore these old beasts of burden. No pictures; how many bins of various size hitch pins and piles of old fenders and so on do you need to see?

There are also other vendors, with items near and dear to the hearts of folks who are preparing for The End Of The World As We Know It. For those working toward the goal of “generational survival”, a threshers reunion is a gold mine of books, instruction manuals and tools of all kinds for trades such as blacksmithing, horse shoeing, wood working, low tech farming and more. It’s also a place where you are highly likely to meet like minded people. I was astounded at the number of people I either spoke to or overheard who were, in very matter of fact terms, discussing publicly how they were planning to live either after A) petroleum is not available as cheaply as it is now or B) The Obama completely sinks the country into the muck. And completely unashamed about discussing the subject with absolute strangers.

(Parenthetically, I have to tell you about this one guy I saw in an Obama hat, who was leaving very early on Friday. Apparently he had escaped confinement in Chapel Hill and thought he was going to some sort of vegan sustainable agriculture thing. I guess he figured out quickly enough that he was not among fellow travelers. There was the playing of the Star Spangled Banner each morning at the opening and prayers before the tractor pull. For crying out loud, the crowd at the show Saturday night stood when Billy “Crash” Craddock sang Dixie! My kinda people!)

All in all, it’s a great way to spend a day or two. Unless you’re wearing an Obama hat.

Edit, 2258: Greetings and salutations to the Tamalanche. Thank you for the linky-love, ma’am.

Edit, 7/8/2009, 1236: And a big “Thank You” and a “Hi, ya’ll” to Mr. Rawles and the SurvivalBlog-alanche. You guys are going to test Blogger’s patience. 🙂

Edit, 7/12/2009, 16:47: If you want to see more on the SETU, I’ve done another post, available here.

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