Full passenger load on the Shamrock Express


When a couple of creative guys got together last winter to create a special train for the kids, they didn’t know if the plan would fly.

But the beautiful six-car barrel train that emerged from the shed – christened the Shamrock Express – was a hit from the start with the little ones.

“Last year the Flywheel Club had a meeting, and decided they needed something for the kids,” said club member Tom Blixhavn, who happens to be very handy with metalwork. “So Reinie Weenink and I got together to build one. Over the winter I built the trailers, so that they could be hooked together. They each have two wheels, and Princess Auto had the wheels. They are usually $35 bucks each, and I got them on sale. They were just $15. I mounted the barrels, and then Reinie took care of the cars. I’ve done a lot of building and machine repair on the farm, but this was my first barrel train.”

Weenink, also a Flywheel Club member, says the train idea rolled out from his time working in Souris with large ag suppliers Redfern.

“They had a barrel train there; they called it the Esso Train,” he said. “I was responsible for maintaining it, and that’s how I knew how it was made. Tom did the undercarriage and metalwork, and I did the plastic work. The cars are made from six 45-gallon plastic barrels that we sourced locally. Just a portion of the barrel is taken out. I used a jigsaw to do the cutting. The lead car has a bell. I started in the spring, and had it ready in June.”

And one June evening Weenink took the finished train out for a trial run, starting from his home street of Bay Avenue.

That’s when he knew it was a hit with the children, as every car was filled with a laughing child.

“It’s just been built, and we have been trying it out,” said Weenink, who pulls the cars using a garden tractor.  “I drive it out after supper, and pick the kids up off the street. It doesn’t take long to fill. The kids were very interested, and I got smiles from ear to ear. As big a smile as they are getting, so am I.”

The Shamrock Express was built expressly for the Turtle Mountain Flywheel Club, he added.

“It’s made for the entertainment of the little ones,” said Weenink. “But I also took it for a drive over to Tom Blixhavn’s house, across the tracks, to show his wife Lynda. She saw it through the window, and she called me back. She was so pleased.”

“It was so cute,” said Lynda Blixhavn. “He brought it down the road, and it was full of kids. It was a surprise.”

Since then the Shamrock Express has been showcased in the Killarney Ag Fair Parade, and its next public appearance is slated for this weekend’s Prairie Pioneer Days, on July 13 and 14.

Last year the members introduced a new feature at the event, a kids’ area in the show ring.

“We had a bouncy castle, because we decided we needed something for the kids,” said Tom Blixhavn. “The Shamrock Express will be part of that this year, and driven by a Flywheel Club member.”

SHAMROCK EXPRESS A KID MAGNET – Reinie Weenink wasn’t sure how popular the Flywheel Club’s Shamrock Express barrel train would be, but there were no seats left during a trial run he made recently. Kids can enjoy a ride in the express at this weekend’s Prairie Pioneer Days (children aged 12 and under get in free), to be held on Saturday and Sunday, July 13 and 14, at the Killarney Sports Grounds (off Hwy. 3).


Giant Caterpillars featured at Pioneer Days

Turtle Mountain Flywheel Club celebrates its 43rd Annual Prairie Pioneer Days on July 13 and 14, at the Killarney Sports Grounds


There will be fun for all ages at this year’s Prairie Pioneer Days – including antique Caterpillars on the ground, and a children’s play area.

Plus the Flywheel Club is bringing in a live band for their Saturday evening entertainment – something upbeat for the stalwart fans of the stationary engine.

“We will have Midlife Crisis playing in the beer gardens on Saturday, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.,” said Tom Blixhavn, Flywheel Club member. “It’s a new thing. We are hoping to attract more people.”

The big supper is being served up first, from 5:30 p.m. until around 7 p.m., in a large tent being erected behind the racetrack bleachers, said Blixhavn.

 That’s also where the beer gardens will be located – and the band – so you won’t even have to leave for dinner, drinks, and maybe even some dancing.

Meanwhile, the shriek of a blast whistle will likely be sharply puncturing the air throughout the weekend.

That’s because high-pressure steam engines are returning this year, said Blixhavn.

“Last year was the first year we were allowed to bring back a steam engine,” he said. “And this year it will be back. People think it’s kind of cool to see a steam traction engine. We will actually have three steamers this year. All with a very loud whistle.”

This year’s feature make is Caterpillar, and Saturday events include the Antique Tractor Pull at 2:30 p.m. on the racetrack (register by 1:30 p.m. for your spot), while the Toy Show, Hobby, and Crafts display will run from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

The children’s play area will be located over in the show ring, and while you are there, look out for the new Shamrock Express train navigating the area. (The children’s activities are all free, but donations are appreciated.)

On Sunday breakfast is included in the admission price, and will be served from 7 a.m. until 10 a.m. – or until 300 hungry patrons have been fed.

The Car and Truck Show begins at 11 a.m., and the parade starts at 1:30 p.m. If you bought a Flywheel Club ticket over the past year, the lucky winners will be drawn after the parade, over on the track. 

“First prize is $500 credit at Killarney Meats, and second prize is $300 credit at the Co-op Food Store,” said Blixhavn. “Some raffle tickets may still be available, if they aren’t all sold out.”

Another rare jewel at this year’s Pioneer Days will be the showcasing of a new creation built by Darwin Fedorowich, a past president of the Flywheel Club.

“He lives in Saskatchewan now, but he was our president about 20 years ago,” said Blixhavn. “And he’s bringing in a replica Case from the 1920s that he has completed. He built it using old parts that he salvaged, and by making some new parts himself. It will be the first viewing of his latest steamer.”

You can also catch Saw Mill and Threshing Demonstrations, check out the Stationary Engine Museum, peruse the vendors, and basically just enjoy a wonderful historical wander back through our agricultural years.

The club has been seeking to raise its profile in recent months, and the addition of a Chase the Ace has helped shine some light on them, he added.“The Flywheel Club holds its Chase the Ace every Friday at the Blarney Stone from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.,” said Blixhavn. “That’s made people more aware of us.” 

For the full Prairie Pioneer Days schedule see the ad below.

1920s’ CASE STEAMER HEADING TO PRAIRIE PIONEER DAYS – This beautifully rebuilt replica of a 1920s’ era Case steam engine, created by Darwin Fedorowich, will be transported from his home in Saskatchewan to Killarney for next weekend’s Prairie Pioneer Days. Fedorowich sourced rare old parts, and welded and machined new ones, to complete his ‘steamer.’