A Homemade Water Wagon for a Harrison Steam Engine

Homemade water wagon is a natural partner for an 1882 Harrison steam engine.

Water tender

Steve’s friend John Brewington drives the 1882 Harrison 10 hp steam traction engine.

Photo by Bill Vossler

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Steve Kunz’s 1882 Harrison steam engine has several unusual features. It’s also noteworthy for what it doesn’t have: water tanks and coal bunkers. “There’s nowhere to carry the extra water or wood on the Harrison,” he says. “Most steam traction engines have water tanks and coal bunkers in back, but this one doesn’t.” Perhaps that’s why the 1882 Harrison was parked so close to the river that eventually swallowed it whole.

It didn’t take Steve long to realize that he’d need a water wagon if he was going to operate the Harrison. Working in commercial property maintenance, he was uniquely well-equipped to build his own wagon. The toughest part of making a wagon from scratch, he admits, was finding time to work on it.

But gathering and assembling the right parts and pieces was an equal challenge. Reeves, Avery and Russell sold water tender wagons tagged with their names, but Steve found no evidence that Harrison did. “Generic wagons from other companies did exist,” he says, “so I just kind of made a general-type wagon.”

Steve worked on his water wagon for a couple of months, using an old well tank for the main part and running gear and wheels from an antique wagon. Some components — like hoses — were new. His finished product holds about 300 gallons. “I’ve never figured out how much I use at a show,” he says, “because I top it off every day.” FC

Read more about Steve’s steam engine in Harrison Steam Engine Salvaged From Missouri River.