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Old-fashioned engines used in Fall Fling

On Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, Phillip Pillin of Youngstown, Ohio, oils his 1910 Lauson engine that once was part of a oil drill. After 112 years, it is still running and on display at the Portersville Steam Show’s Fall Fling. Shane Potter/Butler Eagle

PORTERSVILLE — Phillip Pillin remembers sitting for hours as a young child watching a Lauson steam engine turn, pushing gears that moved heavy machinery perpetually.

Over the weekend, Pillin replicated that experience for others, as he brought a 1910 Lauson unit he purchased to the Portersville Steam Show Fall Fling, to show others how oil-pushing technology worked in the 20th century.

“As a kid, I think I liked watching the wheels turn and everything operating off of each other,” Pillin said Sunday. “Now I just know how to start it; I can maintain it and everything.”

The Fall Fling is the third and final event each year for the Portersville Steam Show, and in addition to displaying numerous steam engines, the festival features its apple cider pressing machine, which makes cider on-site.

Don Fuechslin, president of the Portersville Steam Show, said the weather Saturday and Sunday may have diminished some attendance this weekend, but many people still attend the show to see old-school technology in action.

“We got license plates from 18 different states yesterday,” Fuechslin said. “We’re one of the few engine grounds in the area. We’re doing well; we have a lot to show.”

Tractors of all shapes, sizes and eras lined the walkways of the show grounds in Portersville, and visitors could also see engines’ being demonstrated, with Pillin being just one of many.

According to Fuechslin, the organizers had to cancel the annual tractor pull event due to inclement weather.

While the engines are a draw for many people, the standout on Sunday was the apple cider pressing machine, which was expected to make more than 225 gallons throughout the day.

“What I think is cool is the age of it and how well it works,” said Ed Ford, a volunteer on the apple cider press at the show. “It takes quite a while to press them, probably a half hour.”

The 1879 cider press housed at the steam show grounds used a multi-step process to make picked apples into cider in just under an hour. Ford loaded apples onto a conveyor belt that moved them into the 90-ton press that was then lowered by steam power to crush the fruits down to half-an-inch.

The result was apple cider that tastes different from what you are likely to find in a store.

“That’s as fresh as you are going to get,” said Greg Cooper, a volunteer.

Fuechslin said he expected to get around 800 to 900 visitors over the weekend, because many people enjoy learning about not only steam power, but the history of industrial machines in the U.S.

“It’s all about the engines, the use of engines,” Fuechslin said. “We have people making apple butter; there is a wood shop, trading post, a printing press all shown here.”

Ed Ford helps get all the apples into the hopper of the large apple press to make cider at the Portersville Steam Show Fall Fling on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. Shane Potter/Butler Eagle
Just one of many classic engines on display at the Portersville Steam Show Fall Fling is still working on the grounds for visitors to see. Shane Potter/Butler Eagle
Tractors are on display at the Portersville Steam Show Fall Fling on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 2, 2022. Shane Potter/Butler Eagle
At the Portersville Steam Show Fall Fling on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, Greg Cooper, right, helps move the layers of apple mash into place under the 90-ton press. Shane Potter/Butler Eagle
After the apples are cut up, volunteers make a mash that will then be placed into the 90-ton apple press at the Portersville Steam Show Fall Fling on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. Shane Potter/Butler Eagle

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