Club to take steps back in time

04:56, Mar 15 2012
traction engine
ROLLING: The club's 1908 Fowler traction engine (known as the Mowat engine after the late Eric Mowat) driving a wooden threshing mill.

The South Canterbury Traction Engine and Vintage Steam Club will hold its country fair next week.

The fair in part is being held to celebrate the 110-year anniversary of the major farm machinery and tractor manufacturer International Harvester, with a range of the brand's models on site at the club's grounds in Seadown.

About 250 International Harvester and other branded vintage tractors will be on display, including 10 traction engines, scale replicas, vintage stationary engines, vintage cars, trucks, military machinery and other vintage motors.

cutting chaff
AT WORK: Club members Kevin Deam and Daniel Crossen cut chaff at a public display.

The club will also test the might of people against agriculture.

South Canterbury Traction Engine and Vintage Steam Club member Nigel Gamble says the club is to highlight how dependent mankind is on the use of crude oil based fuels.

It will put people power to the test when a special event is staged to see how many it takes to pull a plough and other agricultural implements.


traction engine club
IN MOTION: Club members Michael Crossen and Brian Rhodes keep a 1870 Hornsby portable steam engine in steam.

Mr Gamble says the club is not trying to make a statement for or against the effects on the environment that the use of fossil fuels may have.

"We certainly don't have any idea whether the world supply of oil will run out any time soon; we believe that it cannot do any harm highlighting just how dependent on oil agriculture is."

He asks if there are viable alternatives.

"In this day and age we are continuously made aware of the impact that mankind is having on the planet. With the arrival of the industrial revolution came the internal combustion engine and with that came intensified agriculture, and many of the common problems the world faces today with the byproducts of farming and the demands that agriculture places on natural resources.

"With a huge demand for food coming from developing nations comes higher commodity prices, and that in turn encourages farmers to intensify their operations, more water, more fertiliser, bigger machinery; and of course more fuel.

"By now we will have all heard the experts' predictions that if we keep consuming cured oil at the going rate, some day soon we will run out.

"As it turns out, this claim has been around for many years; I recently read a letter to the editor from a 1948 newspaper where the writer urged people to conserve fuel as the world would soon run out of crude. The writers asked: should the then current rate of consumption continue? He also suggested that a good supply of draught horses should be maintained for when that day arrived.

"Many arguments have been put forward, and we all have our own thoughts on whether the world may or may not run out of crude. Regardless of opinion, it is worth considering for a moment just what the implications for mankind would be if we were in fact to run out.

"Suddenly our tractors would be useless, or at least until someone built a plant that could produce bio fuel to run the world, and then where do all the oil seed crops come from?

He says humanity could go back to the faithful old draught horse that worked for hundreds of years, but that would raise the issue of how long it would take to breed up the numbers needed to get the world's crops back into production.

"What about some clever hi-tech device, solar power, nuclear or steam?

"By the time vast numbers of new technologies were set into work and food production back up to a level that could sustain the world population, many will have starved to death. So does that leave just one means of providing instant power to the plough?

"People, and that's an alarming thought, which sounds like hard work. What a waste of time it was, inventing all those labour-saving gadgets."

The Timaru Herald