The 113th Lake Goldsmith Steam Rally was on this weekend, and despite Google Maps' best attempts at making sure we didn't get there (yes Google, we definitely wanted to drive down that 10km dirt logging road and not the nice tarmac highway) we managed to get out for a few hours and see some proper old-school heavy machinery. As much as I love robot-driven automation and EVs, there'll always be a place in my heart for steam power and single-cylinder motors with more displacement than my entire car engine.
The location is a 38 acre collection of historical machinery, where members have sheds with their private collections of steam engines, various industrial machines, and paraphernalia. Everything from old washing machines and commercial scales to generators and bicycles. They open up all the sheds for you to peruse, and also have a central demonstration area for large machinery to operate, and a circle track for tractors and vehicles to parade around for the crowds.
Of course the major attraction are the steam vehicles, steam engines, steam machines, and tractor collections. It was legitimately overwhelming, and this blog post is barely 1/10th of the actual photos I took, as well as plenty of footage which I'll edit together into a video some time soon.
My favourite was without a doubt the monstrous steam-powered excavator that quite literally shook the earth around it when it rumbled into action. This thing was an awe inspiring sight to see in action, and had a very unique mechanism to get the scoop scooping. It seemed to rely on momentum, lots of pulleys, and a heavy dose of semi-controlled chaos more than anything else.
There was every type of tractor and industrial machine imaginable, from standard farm tractors to cranes and steam-powered saw mills, and everything in between. Almost everything was running and being demonstrated, and the owners took great pride in keeping it all alive and operating. The sounds and smells were pretty incredible alone, and created an atmosphere like nothing we've ever experienced. The smells of coal fires, kerosene, machine oil, and constant kathunk-a-thunk of massive single-cylinder and twin-cylinder machines banging along in a way no modern machinery could ever replicate (for good reasons, but still, there's always something special about old machinery).
There was also a huge variety of other random demonstrations, collections, and activities. From an RC boat club demonstrating their meticulously detailed model boats, to a car show and various other machinery show areas, to collectable bicycles and oddities on display. The Rally is so much more than just steam engines, and we were seriously impressed by the variety and extensiveness of the various hobby displays people had brought out.
Honorary mention goes to this amazing Lego collection too. As an avid Lego family, we could've happily spent hours just looking through this amazing setup, complete with buttons the kids could press to send trains throughout the various tracks and light up different signs. Many years of dedication have definitely gone into this room, and the Lego was just part of it. They also had an amazing collection of memorabilia and other odds & ends.
If you're into this stuff, definitely check it out some time. These photos don't even scratch the surface of how huge and extensive this show is.