Last Huber goes to Smithsonian

Huber steam tractor

Mrs. A. F. Brandt, Route 1, Bainbridge, Pennsylvania 17502, stands beside the Huber steam tractor which the Brandt family, in cooperation with the grandsons of the manufacturer, has donated to the Smithsonian Institution. The giant piece of equipment, the

A. F. Brandt

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Cover, Photo and Article Courtesy of Sunday News, Lancaster, Pa.

The well known Huber steam engine owned by the A. F. Brandy family, Route 1, Bainbridge, Pennsylvania has left Lancaster County for good.

However, now thousands of people will be able to view the piece of equipment in its new home in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

According to Mrs. Brandt, the 12-ton engine will be located in the first floor exhibit of the Smithsonian's new Agriculture Department just off Pennsylvania Avenue.

Built in 1921, the engine was the last manufactured by the Huber Manufacturing Company, Marion, Ohio. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, Huber was known to be the largest manufacturer of threshing machines and tractors in the United States and was known around the world. Today the firm still manufactures large construction equipment.

The 18 horsepower, return flue engine is in excellent condition. It was explained that the Huber is unique in that most engines have the smokestack in the front. This model has it in the back, reversing the heat and making it more economical on fuel.

The engine was at one time stored in a tool shed near the home of Edward Huber, owner of the manufacturing plant. Later it was sold and used for 10 years by the Millard and Hunt Company for steaming concrete. When that firm no longer needed it, two older employees of the Huber Company bought the machine with the idea of restoring it for a museum. However, both died before their dream could become reality.

In 1960, Harvey Roszman of Upper Sandusky, Ohio purchased and restored it and in 1964 sold it to the Brandts.

With a laugh, Mrs. Brandt says they 'really bought it more for fun than anything else. You see', she said, 'my husband bought his first steam engine when he was only 16. That was his occupation. He'd do threshing in the summer and saw lumber in the winter.'

The engine did bring much enjoyment to the family, including sons Robert and Kenneth, and later the grandsons. The Brandts have exhibited the piece in five states and at 15 different shows, thereby making hundreds of friends throughout the United States and Canada.

Robert Brandt usually transported it on a lowboy trailer to the various exhibits. He delivered to the Smithsonian in June, using the equipment of his employer, John Modesto, Orwigsburg.

'For eight years, I rode that engine as much as he did,' Mrs. Brandt quipped, referring to her late husband.

Her memories include a 'belting up' contest her husband and son entered establishing a record time of 2-1/2 minutes. Also, the Conewago Coin Club, Elizabethtown, chose to picture the engine at Nissley's Mill Bridge northeast of Falmouth, on a medallion in 1967.

In 1966, two grandsons of the manufacturer, Francis Huber, Marion, Ohio and John Schroeter, Washington, D.C. located the old engine they recalled as once having been stored in their grandfather's shed. They, with the Brandts, are donating it to the museum.

The majestic old engine is 16 feet long, 10 feet high and 8 feet wide. It consumes 100 to 150 pounds of coal per hour and can chug along at a speed of two miles per hour.

Mrs. Brandt said she doesn't plan to drop her interest in engines. 'We attended our first show in 1946 and never missed one for 25 years,' she said, pointing to scrap books, pictures and buttons attesting that fact. She's even planning to head for some of the reunions coming up this summer.

This engine was very much enjoyed by Elmer L. Ritzman, former editor of Iron-Men Album Magazine and long time friend of the Brandts. Whenever possible he would put his hand to the throttle and enjoy a ride.