Antique machinery shows labor of past

The Idora Park display is part of this year’s antique
machinery exhibit.



CANFIELD — The Marsilio boys’ 1910 Reeves Traction Engine is an impressive sight.

Twelve feet tall and 10 feet wide, the iron giant weighs 44,000 pounds. It had to be hauled to the Canfield Fair on a tractor-trailer.

The 22-ton tractor’s two-cylinder steam engine tops out at 2.5 mph.

“This was state-of-the-art farm power in 1910,” said Hank Marsilio, who has given the machine to his sons David, 8, and Anthony, 10. “They would have plowed a square mile with this.”

The Marsilios’ traction engine is one of more than 200 tractors on display through Monday at the Antique Machinery exhibit near Gate D, said fair board member Jim Brown.

Throughout the fair, exhibitors such as Shawn Watson, 48, are holding live demonstrations. Watson’s oil well display, built circa 1900, has been operating continuously since the start of the fair. With four operating wells, the display occupies a 50-by-70-foot-square of the exhibit.

A larger display features a operating sawmill that dates to 1910, said Watson. Demonstrators will mill lumber, donated by Mill Creek Park, for fair guests throughout the weekend. The lumber will be used to make improvements at the park, Watson said.

As a feature of the antique machinery exhibit, artifacts from Idora Park are on display. Fairgoers can get a glimpse of a former bumper car, kiddie rides and a Ferris wheel car from the closed Youngstown amusement park, said Watson.

Who gets involved

Like many of the individuals who crowd the antique-machinery green, Marsilio considers himself a mechanic, a hobbyist and an eccentric. The 49-year-old Canfield resident is a boilermaker by trade.

He was introduced to his traction engine through a second party.

“My friend acquired this from a sawmill in Montana,” he said of his traction engine. “It was sitting in a field. It was stripped.”

Many antique farming machines were stripped for scrap metal during World War II, he said.

So Marsilio found a matching model and recast the missing parts, he said. Now it’s in mint condition, he said. He considers it an investment.

“There’s less than 18 or 20 of these in the country — this particular model,” he said.

He has two others in his garage, he said.

300 more

An estimated 300 other historic farm equipment enthusiasts are volunteering at the exhibit, said Watson. Many take their vacation for the opportunity because, like Watson, they love to show others the history of machinery, he said.

“I like to take a rusty piece of junk that no one else would give a second thought to and restore it to its original factory condition,” he said. “We have to preserve the past so that future generations will know what their ancestors went through just to make a living.”

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