Hot air engines among exhibits at Farm Power of the Past


GREENVILLE — Hot air engines were an added attraction at this year’s Greenville Farm Power of the Past held this past weekend at the Darke County Fairgrounds.

Yes, Farm Power of the Past hosted for the first time the Midwest Regional Hot Air Engine Summer Show.

Exhibitors of hot air engines came to Darke County with those products from California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, New York as well as Ohio.

These items were set up in the area of the Ohio Center for visitors to check them out. Art Gaier and Mike Monnier, director of Farm Power of the Past, were in charge of this new feature.

Wesley Bosch of Minnesota brought several of his hot air engines to the show.

“A lot of people call these politician [hot air] engines,” quipped Bosch. “Robert Sterling, a Irish man came up with the idea. Using steam engines in coal mining areas, a lot of men were getting killed or maimed in boiler explosions. He [Sterling] came up with something to use at a safe, lower pressure. Sterling Cycle Engine…he gets credit for it.”

Bosch went on to say there are three different kinds of engines…the Alpha, Beta and Gamma, and all three could be seen in Greenville over the weekend.

“We have fans and toy engines here,” he said. “A tremendous amount were sold as toys. Their main function was to pump water to run such things as washing machines, sewing machines, lathes and roasters for peanuts. Some popcorn wagons had hot air engines instead of steam engines. They were also used in cotton gins.”

“There is a camaraderie among these exhibitors [hot air folks],” said Gaier, who also has some hot air engines himself. ” A lot of them have never come here before. They brought originals [items]. They were a godsend for those who had to carry water in olden days.”

“They are light duty,” added Bosch. “Some are only one 60th of a horsepower with a small engine.”

Brent Rowell of Lexington, Kentucky, brought his Rider hot air engine and a German one.

“The German one is an Amberg named after the town,” Rowell said. “Most interesting would be the solar (sun motor) engine. It was designed by John Ericsson using the design of the Civil War ship, the Monitor. That was his claim to fame. In 1873, they came out with solar power and this is a replica. Ericsson worked on it for 20 years of his life.”

Eighty-four-year-old Jack Strand of Plano, Texas, brought six of his items to Greenville in an enclosed trailer. One of those items included one of which there are only five in the world.

Greenville Farm Power of the Past’s 17th annual reunion opened on Thursday morning and concluded Sunday. Next year’s show will be held July 6-9, featuring lesser known classic tractors and featuring Ohio-built gas engines as well as hosting the Custom Manufacturing Company, the Empire Tractor Club National Expo and the BF Avery Summer Show.

By Linda Moody

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This writer may be reached at 937-569-4315. Follow her on Facebook and join the conversation and get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to

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