Arizona Flywheelers return

They may be "hit and miss" engines, but there's nothing hit or miss about this weekend's event at the Verde Valley Fairgrounds. It's the Annual Arizona Flywheelers bash, a celebration of this nation's mechanical ingenuity, and there will be plenty to see and do for everyone.

Hundreds of engines will be on display, both full scale and model, dating from the latter half of the 19th century to mid-20th century, many of them performing various tasks such as shucking corn, grinding meal, or simply having fun, ala Rube Goldberg.

Flywheels are also called "hit and miss" engines because they don't fire like a normal engine ­ they fire, or hit, then coast for a while, until they slow down enough to let the governor fire again. The heavier the load, the slower the engine moves and the more often it fires. These were the workhorses that ran the machinery in factories, mines and farms before electricity. They helped the farmer irrigate, plow, sow and harvest his fields, and eased some of the daily drudgery for the housewife.

The Arizona Flywheelers Engine Show is now in its 23rd year. The Flywheelers are dedicated to the collection, restoration and exhibition of antique engines, tractors and related machinery. Avid flywheelers and tractor collectors scour the countryside for abandoned engines, then spend months and often years, in restoring them to working order.

Their annual show is a grand occasion for its members (almost two hundred of them) from all over the state, as well as like-minded enthusiasts from other parts of the country, to get together, show of their "babies", whether flywheels, hot air, gas engines or tractors, exchange notes, "horse trade" with kindred souls, show off their engines to the general public and have a good old time.

In addition to the display of "hit and missers", the two-day event at the fairgrounds in Cottonwood includes tractor parades both days at 1 pm, tractor pulls of various classifications, including a kiddie tractor pull, model railroads and airplanes, vintage cars, a flea market, vendors and raffles.

Gates open at 8 am on Saturday and Sunday, March 17 and 18, and the fun continues to 5 pm on Saturday, and 2 pm Sunday. Admission is $3, children free. There's plenty of free parking and a people mover ­ pulled by a tractor, naturally ­ to transport you from the parking lot to the exhibitions.

If you are interested in flywheels and tractors, or would just like to learn more about these wonderful engines, the Arizona Flywheelers invite you to join them at their monthly breakfast meetings on the first Wednesday of the month at Denny's in Cottonwood at 7 am.

For more information, visit the Web site at www.arizonaflywheelers.com, or call their president Jim Mager at 639-1021.

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