Lake Itasca

Stirling Engines... and So Much More!

Revised 12/14/99

Richard and Roy made their first pilgrimage to the fabled shores of Lake Itasca the last week in August with hot air in their... eyes! We had seen Bob Bailey's great video of the show, so we wanted to see for ourselves. And besides, Olaf Berge had given us a personal invitation at the spring NAMES show.

The second hop of our plane ride delivered us to Bemidji, in the northern reaches of Minnesota. A rental car awaited us, and we were off - to a drag race! Unbeknownst to Roy, Richard had devised a sinister plot to subvert the until then innocent (of drag races, at least) Roy. So, prior to getting to see any Stirling engines, RR was subjected to near asphyxiation from nitro fumes, deafened by the roar of engines, and had all his senses generally assaulted. But we did get to see an engine blow up, and the rebuilding of the engines after each race was an education in itself. Altogether a very interesting afternoon. Tomorrow would be quieter, Stirlings being silent runners as opposed to the monsters we saw this afternoon.

We really did not know exactly what to expect, although the LIRPF (Lake Itasca Region Pioneer Farmers) web site had listed a variety of offerings, including tractor pulls and sawmill demonstrations. Well, we were in for a treat! The Hot Air Engine Shed was just inside the gate, so we were duty bound to stop in there first. 

Olaf was there in force with a multitude of full sized Stirling engines, including one that was a scale model - 20 times original size! He had seen an article on a model engine of a unique design, so he just decided that it should be realized in full size. He had to make a few modifications of the valving, but retained the operating principle. 

A number of other friends were there, including those you see here (from the left) Bob Bailey, Janna Berge, Albert Berge,  Don Isaac and, in the background, Richard.

Wade Connel, who we had met at NAMES was there with his beautiful Lake Breeze fans (you can see an example in our NAMES 99 report). He also had with him a real Ky-Ko fan, which you see him oiling here.

It is a beautiful example of an antique commercial fan, and complete, as far as I could tell. Here are a couple of close ups of the mechanism, showing a clever way to keep the vertical dimension of the fan getting too tall.

Richard was busy snapping photos, too. Here are the links to his photos:

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