Great State: Pony Engines Still Buck in Pawnee

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PAWNEE, OKLAHOMA -- If you were a farm wife in the early part of the 20th Century, you could dream of a gas-powered Maytag washing machine.

Bob Lynch's mom did. "You started it by stepping on it with your foot, just like a motorcycle," Lynch demonstrates.

"This was the Cadillac and she was the envy of the whole neighborhood."

This one washed clothes, made ice cream, and sausage too, but only if you poured gas in the tank.

Bob picks up another hose and explains, "Then this was your exhaust pipe. You picked it up and threw it out the door into the yard."

There are hundreds of tractors at the annual Pawnee Steam and Gas Engine Show, but spread out among the shade trees on the show grounds rest hundreds of 'Pony Engines'.

Some of them are more than 100 years old.

They pumped water, ground corn, and powered barn shops in the years before electric power reached virtually everyone.

Collector Scott Kuhns found his 1912 Fuller and Johnson 6HP half buried near White Sands, New Mexico.

His friend was using it for target practice.

Scott took a year to get it running again.

"I had to do some research to find out what it was," he says. "They used it long enough to where the sand destroyed the gearing on it."

Milford Reagle grew up in the Oklahoma oil fields near Glenpool.

He and his wife Bonnie buy and trade old gas engines.

He made a tractor out of an old Maytag gas engine.

"I work on them and bring them back to life," he says.

The 'pony engines' aren't that noisy if they're running right.

They're portable, and once fixed, reliable too.

Electric motors might have ended the era of the gas engine, but not for the folks at this show, who still like to watch them putter along.

The Pawnee Steam and Gas Engine Show is held every year on the first weekend in May.

For more information on the show go to