Frick traction engine

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Samuel S. Hoffman of Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania parks his 1928 Frick traction engine on his lawn and attracts a lot of attention.

'People stop their cars and stare, some even get out and take pictures. I guess it's not every day you see an antique steam engine setting on someone's front lawn,' Sam told the Elizabethtown Chronicle.

Sam's father owned a Frick like this one. Sam owned a Frick portable 16 years, but sold it in order to buy this one from Raymond Leppo, of Manchester, Maryland.

Leppo's father, Howell Leppo, was the original owner. It was used mainly for sawmill power. Leppo had it restored and kept in a barn for 22 years. He had it pulled from the barn on special occasions for guests to see it, but did not fire it up. Raymond bought the engine at public sale after his father's death.

The engine is one of the approximately 300 Fricks known in existence in the United States. Frick made about 30,000 engines; Sam's serial number is 28,861. Frick's headquarters were at Waynesboro, Pennsylvania.

Hoffman annually shows the engine at the Rough & Tumble Engineers reunion at Kinzers in August. His brother Lester, who lives at Rheems, did the striping and usually assists Sam.

Sam offers tips to spectators who ask a lot of questions: To operate a steam traction engine he cautions, 'You have to understand them. The most important thing to watch when running a steam engine is the water level.'

The engines take little maintenance, he adds, and even though some people may think they look big and clumsy, 'they handle about the same as a car.'