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Crank-up celebrating 50th anniversary of showcasing antique engines

By Bryan Stevens

The East Tennessee Crank-up, an annual show organized by the East Tennessee Antique Engine Association, Inc., will celebrate its 50th anniversary Thursday-Saturday, June 10-12.

The event has been held every year since 1971 at a farm owned by Geoff Hutchings, a member of the board of directors for the ETATA. His farm is located at 2045 Sciota Road, Elizabethton, and features several antique engines on permanent display and available for the public to view.

Hutchings spoke to The Erwin Record about plans for the upcoming milestone show.

Hutchings said that this year’s show will shine the spotlight on the Superior Manufacturing engine. Two models of this particular engine are on permanent display on his farm.

Superior Manufacturing based in Springfield, Ohio, made two different lines of the engine, according to Hutchings. One line made engines for the oil industry while the other manufactured engines for other commercial uses.

The two engines in the spotlight for the 50th anniversary show are both ones made for the oil industry. Hutchings said the engines weigh about 6,000 pounds and feature 5-foot fly wheels. They are 20- and 25-horsepower engines, respectively.

The show will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Many of the exhibitors will stage live demonstrations of their engines throughout the days of the show.

Hutchings said that the shows attracts attendees from throughout the United States, as well as from such foreign countries as Australia, Germany and Great Britain. 

“We’ve got a fellow who comes from England every year,” Hutchings said. Unfortunately, the man will be unable to attend this year’s anniversary show because of travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although the June show was not held in 2020, the ETAEA did manage to hold a one-day show in September of last year. 

Hutchings will also be displaying an original 4-cycle engine invented by Nicolaus Otto, a German engineer who developed the first internal combustion engine to run on petroleum gas.

“I obtained it from the Henry Ford Museum at auction in 1985,” Hutchings said. “It’s the only one in the southern United States and it still runs really well.”

He added, “There’s a lot of history in that engine. The beginning of the automobile era is in that engine.”

Hutchings said the show will also feature early steam and diesel engines. Other items of interest scheduled to appear at the show include a shingle mill, grist mill, wood turning and wood working equipment, mill engines and tractors and a slide valve engine.

The show will also give attendees a chance to see a large engine that once belonged to R.J. Reynolds, the founder of the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Originally, the engine was used to generate electricity for a private island owned by Reynolds. The engine was on the verge of being scrapped when Hutchings acquired it. 

The Hutchins farm is located half a mile south from The Laurel Recreation Area and five miles north of Unicoi.

Admission to the show is $4 per person. Children 12 and under are admitted free.

A local church group will supply hotdogs and burgers each day of the show. An International Harvester Engine will also be used to make homemade ice cream.

For more information, call Hutchings at (423) 725-3992 or email him at [email protected] Information is also available at the association’s website at