Crank Up, a show with engines, tractors and much else, has been in Pepperell every summer since 1975. Usually Jim Coomey, of Tewksbury has a younger
Crank Up, a show with engines, tractors and much else, has been in Pepperell every summer since 1975. Usually Jim Coomey, of Tewksbury has a younger partner to help demonstrate this shingle mill, built in Orange, Mass. in 1889. But not this time, due to the arrival of a new baby. Nashoba Valley Voice/Anne O'Connor

PEPPERELL -- The sounds of pfft, pfft, pfft, (wait...) phew and the aroma of burning gasoline could only mean one thing: The Pepperell Crank Up was in town.

Since 1975, fans of antique engines and tractors have gathered on a summer day to share their love of machinery. That means lots of engines turning gears and lots of shiny and some not-so-shiny farm implements. And worthy of mention, a glistening vintage MG convertible.

Some of the machines showed their age and origins plainly. The New England Butt factory in Rhode Island is on the National Register of Historic Places. Frank Scimemi worked there and he rescued an 1896 rope-making machine when it closed.

A piece of rope turned out by the machine was free, but a spark plug would cost you $5.

Dave Harper,a retired shop teacher living in Plympton, brought along his working 1917 Fairbanks and Morse domestic water pump. Nashoba Valley Voice/Anne
Dave Harper,a retired shop teacher living in Plympton, brought along his working 1917 Fairbanks and Morse domestic water pump. Nashoba Valley Voice/Anne O'Connor

A gas-powered Aermotor engine was made by a company that still makes windmills. Joe Perko Jr., of Stafford Springs, Conn., bought the circa 1915 engine from the grandson of the original owner. The grandson was in his 90s.

Chelmsford took the Zaher farm by eminent domain in the 1950s to build the McCarthy School but a family member holds the tradition close. Charles Zaher lives on the "backside of the farm "and maintains a collection of tractors to work it.

Some are fully restored, like the Farmall Cub that he won from his chapter of the International Harvester Collectors Club. IH, as tractor fans refer to the company, built Farmalls.

The Pepperell Crank Up was started by Kim Spaulding and Jim Dunn, who ran it for 40 years.


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Then, they called it quits.

Spaulding's granddaughter and her husband, Christine and Joshua Thompson, took it over. "I did this basically for my grandfather," she said. "He loves it."

Both Spaulding and Dunn worked the crowd, checking out the machines and connecting with friends.

"We didn't change a thing," Christine said. "We just want to keep the tradition alive."

There is no charge to attend and no charge for vendors. What little money they need, the Thompsons make by selling pins during the day. They sat with their two sons in the gazebo on July 9.

The boys are not yet allowed to drive their grandfather's tractors.

The young family moved to Lunenburg from Pepperell not too long ago. When asked if they had their own tractors, she said, "No."

At just about the same time, he said, "Not yet."

Follow Anne O'Connor on Twitter @a1oconnor.