Monday, June 14, 2021

Spring machinery show draws crowds to Penns Cave

CENTRE HALL — The Nittany Antique Machinery Association (NAMA) held its annual Spring Show on June 4 through June 6 at Penns Cave. The show featured large displays of antique tractors and implements, hit and miss engines, antique vehicles and a building filled with toy tractors, trucks and farm machinery. A large flea market, which attracted many visitors, was located on the east end of the show grounds. A long row of food and drink vendors were kept busy feeding the large crowd of visitors.

In the toy building John Lebkicher, a retired electrical lineman from Mifflintown, displayed hand-built wooden models of heavy equipment. He showed a model of a Caterpillar 5130B excavator. Lebkicher builds in 1/8 scale, making the Cat model about five feet long and weighing about 75 pounds. Lebkicher, at age 78, is an oldschool craftsman, and builds the models working from hand drawings he makes based on photographs and measurements from actual vehicles. He doesn’t use any modern-day computer aided design programs.

“I don’t know how to use that stuff,” he said.

He also showed a ¼-scale model of a John Deere tractor.

On the west end of the show grounds was a 1923 Farquhar coal-fired steam tractor, owned by Paul Dotterer, of Mill Hall, powering a working sawmill via a long flat belt. The engine ran nearly silently, but made a loud chuffing sound when the large logs met the spinning saw blade. It was a great history lesson, showing how things were done a century ago.

Antique tractors of many brands and ages were shown on the grounds, and were paraded around the grounds at 11 a.m. each day of the show. Most of them were beautifully restored examples, and a few were still in their “barn find” condition — rusty but still running well. Spectators gave many cheers and applause as the machines rolled by.

NAMA was formed in 1975, and held its first show at the Penns Cave Farm in September of that year. The fall show has become one of the largest of its kind east of the Mississippi.

The spring show, held annually on the first weekend after Memorial Day is a somewhat smaller version of the fall show, and features free admission for spectators.

The fall show is held each year on the weekend following Labor Day.