Question ! How do you bring together like minded people to engage in entertaining the public with machinery from a forgotten time ? This is always a question pondered as we near the spring months and know some of the shows that attract thousands to see the marvelous inventions of the past !
The Piston Power Auto-Rama is just such a show that we as a club have attended for the last several years. As the name implies, they feature anything powered by, or run by a piston, can be displayed in the show !
Back at the beginning of 2020, because of the Covid scare, we got the sad news that the show had been cancelled, we had already set up our display so this was a real shock for all of us !
This year we weren’t sure if there was going to be a show as there were rumors of more set backs and mandates, but as winter surged on things started opening up; and I started getting the good news that the IX Center was reopening !
So now it was time to start sending out inquiries to see how many of our members were interested in displaying at the show ? In my own mind I wasn’t too confident we’d get enough people to make a good display, but decided to send out a couple emails to see what kind of response we’d get ? I was blown away as the guys started replying back that they would come and bring 1-2 or even 4 – 5 motors to display ! Our final count was 12 members, 32 motors and 3 boats ! This was fantastic and I think the most motors our club has ever had on display !
Once I had all the members confirmed I sent the list in to our IX Center contact, Steve Legerski, Steve sent out a notice to all show attendees that they could pick up their packet of credentials at the Grinder house restaurant just a couple miles from the IX Center !
I know all these guys very well and how much work it is to prepare for what each wants to bring to the show ! The fact that each of these members is willing to do this is fantastic; and I don’t have enough words of appreciation for them !
The plan from the IX Center was for us to load in on Thursday when they opened at 8:00 in the morning so I told the guys I’d be there at 8:00 and would have the credentials for anyone I hadn’t given them to ! Thursday morning I arrived and met Greg Schnelzer in the parking lot, the directions I had from Steve noted we had to have an entry admission form and present it at the desk in order to get into our display area ! The only problem was they didn’t take the form at the desk, the people there told us we had to show it when we drove in and the guys directing us to our spot didn’t take it either, so it was a bit confusing what their reason for it was ?
Once inside Greg and I unloaded our motors and set up our banner ! By about 9:30 – 10 most of the guys were there and we set up the canopy that is good for identifying our location in the show ! We started arranging motors to see what the best arrangement would be for people walking through ! The space we had been assigned was also being shared with ACBS, the Antique Classic Boat Society and they didn’t have all of their boats there yet !
My good friend Gary Kosiba was ACBS’s set up guy and he had just pulled in. Gary told me they had about 7 – 8 boats they were going to display ! I called Steve to ask exactly how much space we had and how far it extended, as it turned out we had plenty for both clubs !
By about 12 noon we were almost completely set up except for our Treasurer, Mr. Bob Joynt, who had just texted me he wasn’t going to be there till about 2:00pm ! So, much like the military it was now a hurry up and wait situation ! I knew there was just enough space to squeeze Bob’s boat in but thought it would be more fun to tell him don’t bother bringing it we ran out of room ! He thought I was serious but I couldn’t let him sweat too much so I told him I was just kidding !
The show runs from 3:00 – 10:00 pm Friday, 10:00 – 10:00 Saturday and 10:00 – 6:00 pm Sunday and being the passes are good all three days, everyone can attend any time they want. I had planned on being there all three days and as it turned out some of the guys also said they’d be there too, so we had plenty of coverage.
One of the good things about being in the show is we can get there early and cruise around to see many of the displays before the crowd gets there ! Bill Mohat figured out my little trick of bringing a small folding bicycle to ride through the show, and found one for sale that he modified with some special lights ! The show is quite large and having the bikes makes it much easier to cover the large area.
There are cars in this show that only one with a wild imagination could dream up ! The amount of work that goes into building them is like many of the car shows on TV, and the talent to build them both rivals those shows and in many cases far exceeds them !
Our Photographer, Mr. John Hagerman, has taken many pictures of some of the displays along with our display and will be posting them on our web site along with the WRC Facebook page. So please stop in take a look wrcoutboards.org ! The Facebook page is managed by Bob Joynt.
I arrived at the show about 8:45 Friday in order to ride around and see as much as I could before it actual opened, Mr. Jerry Kay came in shortly after and said he’d hold down the fort while I road around. Jerry is one of the most dedicated members in our club and is also one of the most respected and knowledgable so I knew things were in good hands ! I could spend hours describing the displays I saw and the things people bring to this show but will not even try as I’m sure there will be plenty posted on FaceBook !
The crowd on friday was a good sign of how well received this show is, and we had plenty of exposure and interest from the pubic ! Another great part of being in this show is how many people you meet that you may not have seen in several years ! Many people also ask us about motors they have that they don’t know what to do with, they know they don’t want to see them go to the scrap yard and would rather see them go to someone who appreciates them !
Friday came and went and we, (my wife and I ) were both up and ready to go by 6:00 Saturday morning ! For some reason my internal clock told me we had to be there by 9:00 so we were on our way by 7:45 and arrived about 8:45 only to realize we were about an hour early. Daaa ! I did a couple ride arounds on my bike while Peg walked taking in all the quiet before the crowd came in ! 10 o’clock arrived and slowly the number of people increased, there was hardly a moment we weren’t talking and explaining the many features and types of motors all the members had brought.
Dave Deck was busy showing lots of kids how to kneel in the Pickle fork racing hydro, holding the steering wheel with one hand while working the throttle with the other hand ! One of Dave’s passions is trying to promote outboard racing and he even gives classes on how to drive a race boat which my own Grandson attended and really enjoyed !
Bob Joynt’s Antique Willis Comet racing boat from the late 30’s was also a huge hit ! I persuaded Bob to bring the engine it came with when he bought it, a P-50 Johnson twin opposed cylinder ! Unfortunately the engine is froze with a generous coating of Patina and possibly from being run with methanol fuel & Castor oil ! But it drew lots of attention from passerby’s wanting to know if we were going to fix it ? And of course the answer is “Definitely” !
Two of our other motor experts, Mr. Paul Wood and Mr. Mike Seachrist, were busy with attendees pointing out features on Bob’s boat and motors they had brought to the show ! Paul is a fairly new member of our club but is a fast learner having grown his own collection of motors to about seven so far, his latest accomplishment is a Viking engine he did a beautiful restoration on !
Mike Has been around these old blue smoke burners for a few more years and is a specialist in Champion and Mercury outboards ! He has been building a pair of Champion Sweet 16 engines that will be show stoppers when he’s done !
Domenic Durda is a member and good friend I have known since I took a class on electricity and wiring. Dom is a fellow boater but has a couple old outboards in his collection. Dom is also a bit of a motor head !
Greg Schnelzer is another fairly new member that has been bitten by the outboard bug (my fault Greg, sorry) Greg came to me to ask if I could help him restore his Grandfather’s old Firestone outboard (a ScottAtwater clone). He said he wanted to totally tear it down and refresh it with all new parts where needed ! Greg is one of those people who is meticulous in detail and doing things by the book, and another quick learner who has turned into a good friend !
Bill Mohat another fairly new member that has a fantastic understanding of electronics, computers and generally mechanical things ! Bill started out diagnosing Magnetos and how they work ! We worked with Bill testing and understanding the function of most of the components of a magneto and he has written several excellent articles on how they work ! They can be found on our web site wrcoutboards.org under documents !
Dave Nau also has a motor he bought / brought for display in our booth, Dave bought it from John Hagerman who brought it to the show for Dave. What can I say about Dave, he is our National club Membership Services person and is one of the most detailed people I’ve ever met keeping track of all members, their status in the club and when dues are due ! He also does the mailing of “ The Outboarder “ nationally and over seas which lately has gotten very expensive ! He is also a dedicated reader of all car and engine material, go ahead try to trip him up on a question about cars, I’ll wait !
Chip Rabbit another good friend and member, Chip brought a Water Witch engine to display It’s a fairly rare motor (engine) I hate when I do that ~~~ engine, motor which witch is which ! Is a motor an engine or an engine a motor ?
Bob Davidson is one of our senior members with a love of all things mechanical ! Bob’s knowledge is so far reaching I really don’t know what he isn’t well versed on ! Bob also brought a Water Witch but I can’t tell which witch it is ? Ok enough of that !
These twelve gentleman are some of the life support of our club and the ones that stepped up to display at the Piston Power AutoRama ! Don’t get me wrong we have other equally outstanding members that I have the utmost respect for and could also write equally about each of them! But this writing is about the show.
As the crowd started to thin and the day was wearing on Greg Schnelzer said, “hey why don’t you guys go home early, I’ll stay to the end and cover for you” ! Bill also said he would stay to the end, so we left, tired but relieved to have a couple hrs of extra time !
Sunday morning I knew I had to take the bike and some other stuff out of the truck to give me a little more room for packing everything back in ! I didn’t make the same mistake this time and we arrived just early enough to grab a second cup of coffee before they opened the doors !
The early morning crowd was a bit sparse but still interested in what we had to show ! One of the hi lights for me was an old friend I knew as a teenager from a motorcycle shop I worked at, H & H cycle ! His Son Dwayne had stopped by the booth on Friday and when I asked him (I didn’t recognize him at first) if he was related to someone I mentioned, he said his last name was Pacholke ! That sparked a flash out of the past, Dwayne said his Dad had a couple hundred old outboards and he probably would remember me if I worked there ! His Dad was Wayne Pacholke the brother of the owner, Harold ! Sunday Dwayne brought his dad by the booth, what a time capsule, he remembered things I had totally forgotten ! Those are the moments that make these experiences so memorable !
As the day wore on, everyone was getting really tired now but it had been great show and I think we even signed up three new members ! At about 5:45 they flash the lights a couple times to tell people the show is closing ! We had already started knocking down the display and taking motors (engines) off the long motor rack ! There was still going to be a long wait till we could bring the trucks and cars in to load up ! But the thrill of all those hotrods starting up and parading out the exits was a sight to be seen, and the exhaust would make a skunk blush !
Once all the cars were out we brought in the trucks and loaded them up ! Boats got hitched up and it was the end of another PPS
I can’t begin to say what a great group of guys we have that all work together helping each other ! Many hands make easy work ! Thanks Guys !
Gary & Peggy