Traction Engines

For as long as I can remember we used to go to local traction engine rallies, I suppose my dad was to blame as he was for many of my interests.  I was always fascinated by the majesty and power of these monsters which seem to have a life of their own.  When you realise how old they are and the equipment that was available to their makers they are indeed a marvel. Also, at most of these rallies, there were one or two fair organs.

Fair organs always seem to produce an incredibly complex sound from what seems to be such a simple machine.  In reality they are quite complex and need a great deal of care to maintain them. 

At some recent rallies I found a new group of people who have made their own hand turned organs.  These are simple machines with a limited range of notes (typically 20) but still seem to produce an interesting sound.  The basic style of organ has been designed by John Smith and this is the standard that most people follow.  There are two 20 note organs and a more complex 26 note one.

After discussing them it would appear that the simple ones can be built for less than £200 by anyone who has reasonable woodworking and metalworking skills.  There are even kits of parts for those who cannot find, or make, the more complex parts.  One day when I have the spare time, I will make one for myself just to see what is involved.

This year (2004) I visited the Great Dorset Steam Fair for the first time.  This is the fair's 36th year and is held over a 5 day period.  I had been told it was big but, when I realised how big, I was flabbergasted.  The main ring, known as the heavy haulage ring, was bigger than some of the rally fields I had seen in the past.  The entire site covers some 500 acres and boasts over 200 engines and 100 organs of all shapes and sizes.  To do the fair justice you need at least three days and I still didn't see it all.  I really must make an effort to visit this one again - maybe for their 40th anniversary which should be very spectacular. 

I did manage to visit the Geat Dorset again for its 40th year celebrations and it was very good - we only went for two days this time having decided that we would not be looking at the market area and some of the peripherals. One of the highlights of the event was a fly by and display from the Battle of Britain Memorial flight