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Last chance to see scale models, “Wheels” exhibit, at Kauffman Museum

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – “Wheels,” the special exhibit at Bethel College’s Kauffman Museum, closes Sunday, so this is the last chance to see three scale models showing precision engineering that have been added since the exhibit first opened last fall.

The models include a ⅓ scale Conestoga wagon built by Arnold M. McCloud of Newton, and a Britannia locomotive and Avery tractor built by the late Moses H. Voth of Goessel, Independence and North Newton.

McCloud is retired from a career as a loan officer at Midland National Bank in Newton and enjoys using woodworking skills he honed during his Bethel College days, where he majored in industrial arts. McCloud spent about 1,000 hours building the all-wood replica of a Conestoga.

Conestoga wagons were commonly used in the eastern United States between 1750 and 1850 to haul agriculture commodities or freight. The name comes from the Conestoga River in Lancaster County, Pa.

In comparison to the rectangular bodies of western freight wagons, the box of the Conestoga was curved, a feature that required special attention as McCloud constructed it in wood. Other features that McCloud rendered in miniature include a toolbox, a long brake lever (which came into use after 1830), a “lazy board” or pull-out seat for when the driver tired of walking, and a “shoe” chained to the rear wheel that slowed the vehicle by preventing wheel rotation when descending a steep slope.

Moses H. Voth (1903-97) also graduated from Bethel College and held degrees from the University of Kansas and Colorado A&M. He taught industrial arts at Bethel College, Independence Junior College and Independence High School.

Voth chose the Britannia 70,000 locomotive and coal car based on pictures he saw in The Model Engineer, a British magazine. He began building the Britannia in 1951 and completed it 2,000 hours later in 1972, a period of 21 years. His daughter, Vionetta Schmidt of Littleton, Colo., says, “I remember him working on the train in the evenings as I was growing up and in school.”

The locomotive was built at a scale of ¾″ = 1′ which required precision engineering skills. Voth drew his own working diagrams, cast molds and machined parts and assembled them with silver soldering, soft soldering and other metal fabricating methods. Says Schmidt, “If he couldn't find a certain part or screw, he made the

item himself.”

The more significant challenge for Voth was constructing the locomotive as a functioning engine that can run on steam or compressed air. In a 1972 interview, Voth said, “Sometimes you just can’t scale things absolutely because you have to satisfy conditions of strength. Some parts, if scaled absolutely, would be much too flimsy.”

Voth built the replica of an Avery tractor in his shop in North Newton after retiring here. Voth worked for about 10 years on the Avery tractor, which is also a functioning steam engine and was built without blueprints or purchased parts.

The three scale models are on display along with antique bicycles, buggies and toys in “Wheels: Transportation and Toys from the Kauffman Museum Collections.” The exhibition is open Thursday and Friday, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 1:30-4:30 p.m. Admission to the museum is $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6 through 16 and free to Kauffman Museum members and children younger than 6. For more information, call the museum at 316-283-1612.

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