Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bigger toys

click photo to enlarge
"Little boys never grow up, they just get bigger toys!" Old saying, probably twentieth century

To pick up a theme from the previous post - what is it about men and forms of transport? Look at the attention that young men lavish on their cars - taking out perfectly good rear light clusters and replacing them with custom-made versions, fitting exhausts the width of land-drains, bolting on snowplough-like body kits, or installing "sound systems" that, if they're lucky, they'll live to regret as their ears degenerate due to the volume and insidious bass thumping. Or how about the the older blokes with their "Sunday cars" - the Mark 2 Cortina or 2.4 Jaguar that they couldn't afford when younger, but is now their "treat"? Others indulge themselves with shiny motorcycles, model railway layouts of various sizes or even full-size, canal barges, aircraft and the rest. And then there are the traction engine enthusiasts, people who spend their spare time lovingly restoring, operating, and showing a form of mobile power and transport that existed for a relatively short period of time in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries!

I recently attended Bicker Steam Threshing weekend, a Lincolnshire village's fund raising event for its medieval church. The centre piece is the threshing of wheat by an old threshing machine that is powered by a different traction engine each day. Other activities take place over the weekend, but it is the gathering of several traction engines, veteran and vintage cars, motorcycles, steam organs, stationary engines, old tractors and even the odd military vehicle that seems to attract the crowds. And the biggest clusters of people are always found around the traction engines. The men (and the one or two women) that own and operate these venerable machines have an affection for their charges that is palpable. I suppose it is their functional solidity, simplicity, the relative ease of repair and refurbishment, as well as their sheer size, noise and presence that makes them the boys' (and girls') toys par excellence! And, of course, as well as powering a threshing machine, a circular saw or a steam organ, it's a simple matter to hitch up a trailer and give rides around the village, as in the photograph above. Long may they continue!

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 79mm (158mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/160
ISO: 400
Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On