Looking for Clues to Mystery Engines

Mystery engine

This issue's ''mystery engine.''

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Sharp-eyed readers were quick to identify our 'mystery' engine in the September/October 2004 issue of Steam Traction. It was of course a 'Lobo,' manufactured by Fairbanks Steam Shovel Co., Marion, Ohio.

James E. Matz, 6151 Woodard Road, Andover, OH 44003, sent in the first correct identification, writing: 'The mystery steam engine on page 9 of the September/ October 2004 Steam Traction is a Lobo engine, manufactured by the Marion (Ohio) Steam Shovel Co. I believe Edward Huber had at least part interest in the company. I really enjoy Steam Traction magazine.'

From what we know, James is partly right m noting a connection to Edward Huber. According to Jack Norbeck's Encyclopedia of American Steam Traction Engines, James Fairbanks, founder of Fairbanks Steam Shovel Co., worked as a superintendent at the Huber Mfg. Co. Note the Lobo is a return-flue, as were Hubers.

Other readers responding included Alan New, who wrote: 'I'm identifying Spaulding's mystery engine for this month. It is a Lobo engine, built by the Fairbanks Steam Shovel Co. of Marion, Ohio. If you change the front round head tank to a square one, change the wheel hubs to riveted ones and add the front flange to the boiler barrel, you have a Huber, which was built in the same town.'

Thomas Stebritz also recognized the engine: 'I am enclosing a photo of Spalding's latest mystery engine. I am not opting for a prize, however the engine is the Lobo a very neat design except for the round front water tank. A close look at the thresher shows a steel machine with a tubular tailings elevator a Case! recognizable even with the Ruth feeder. The Lobo was built by the Fairbanks Steam Shovel Co. of Marion Ohio.'

For getting his answer in first, James receives a free copy of Prof. P.F. Rose's Steam Engine Guide.

Another look at a Lobo engine. Reader Thomas Stebritz provided this photo, which shows the 'Lobo' moniker in clear view on the side of the boiler.

This month's mystery engine comes, as usual, courtesy of John Spalding, 112 Carriage Place, Hendersonville, TN 37035 ( There's no information on the photograph giving any clues to the identity of this nice little portable, so we're eagerly awaiting your detective work to help us confirm the engine's identity.

As ever, the first person to correctly identify the picture, by mail, gets a free copy of Prof. P.F. Rose's Steam Engine Guide. Good hunting, and get those answers in quick.