The sun is peeking over the eastern horizon. Dew's on the grass and the morning air is cool and moist. Smoke rises lazily from the stacks of steam traction engines. That's the early morning scene on the first day of the Wauseon (Ohio) National Threshers Association's 61st annual threshing and antique tractor show held in late June.
For 61 years, the NTA has been keeping alive the traditions of early farm operations. The group holds one of the largest shows in Ohio featuring steam engines and harvest machines. This year, for the first time in the group's history, the show feature was Huber, one of the lesser-known tractor brands.
Not sure what to expect, but certain they didn't want a bust, Dave Schramm and Steve Lashaway contacted the Huber Machinery Museum, Marion, Ohio, requesting assistance and coordination for their show. Dave is president of the NTA; Steve is first vice president. Both visited the museum to look over the equipment and discuss plans for transporting selected items to Wauseon. Since Wauseon's show is the week following Marion's show, and it ends one day before the Marion County Fair begins, careful coordination was critical.
Hubers began arriving two days before the Wauseon show opened. By Friday, the inventory included five steam engines, 48 gas tractors, two wood revolving hay rakes, a wood sulky revolving hay rake, two separators, a 10-ton steel-wheel road roller and several other items, totaling 64 pieces.
The largest tractors included Doug Langenbach's 1920 30 hp Huber steam traction engine and George Schaaf's 1916 40-70 gas prairie tractor. Dan Ehlerding's 1916 2-cylinder 15-30 tractor with an evaporating cooling system was the earliest tractor at the show. Stan Winck and Tom Kay showed the smallest tractors, the little Huber orchard tractors. Thirteen orchard OB tractors were made. Three are known to exist and two of those three were on display at Wauseon. Jerry Brenly and Mose Miller own the last farm tractor sold by Huber, a 1943 Model HK.
Every model of Huber known to exist was represented at the show except a 20-40 with a Stearns engine and a Huber-Avery tractor. During 1930-31, Huber sold nearly 400 HK and HS tractors to B.F. Avery Co., Louisville, Ky. None were at the show, although one of each of these tractors (a 20-40 and a Huber-Avery) are on display at the Huber museum in Marion.
Huber also sold about 250 Huber S/SC and L/LC tractors to the Farm Bureau as CO-OP tractors. One of these tractors, owned by Bill Koski, Owosso, Mich., got to the show. Huber's final attempt to enter the agricultural market began and ended in 1950 with a Global tractor. The company built 10, four of which are believed to exist. The Global displayed in the Huber museum is the last serial number of the known Globals.
Several collectors brought four tractors: Mose B. Miller and Jerry Brenly, Ken and Jim Perrin, and Dick Terrill and Jim Elwood. Dick and Jim each also brought a Huber wood revolving hay rake. George Schaaf's 40-70 prairie tractor was chosen as the show's featured gas tractor.
John Yowler's 16-hp Huber steam engine, bellowing clouds of black smoke and occasionally filling the air with the eerie squeal of its screaming whistle, paraded the grounds daily. Often it idled by the Huber exhibit, and rides were offered to anyone interested. John has owned the engine for 10 years and finally, for this special show, had it completely restored. It looked great.
Stan Winck worked his 1921 Huber 28-48 wood separator each day of the show. It was always powered by a Huber tractor. The 1943 HK owned by Mose Miller and Jerry Brenly was the first tractor in line, but George Schaaf's prairie tractor drew the most attention. A crowd always gathered when that giant tractor was belted up.
Summer plowing is always tough work, but those Huber steam engines were up to the task. Doug Langenbach's newly restored 30-hp engine just toyed with the 8-bottom platform plow. This particular plow requires four operators, one for every two bottoms, to engage/disengage and regulate the depth. John Yowler's 1920 16-hp Huber worked on the other side of the field, pulling a John Deere 5-bottom plow. Clouds of dust followed the tractors as they made their way back and forth across the field.
Two excellently restored Hubers pulled shuttle wagons: Mel Pulskamp's 1938 Model B pulled one wagon, while Tom Kay's newly restored 1939 Model OB orchard pulled the other.
All involved considered Wauseon's Huber show a success. As many as 22 visiting tractor owners and exhibitors congregated in the museum tent at one time, exchanging ideas and sharing tractor tales. Besides Huber, nearly every known name, brand and type of tractor, truck, hit-and-miss engine and steam engine was on site during the show. Interestingly, a Marion Leader steam traction engine was also among the show's exhibits. The Leader company was a competitor to Huber, producing steam traction engines and separators.
- James N. Boblenz is a board member of the Edward Huber Memorial Association and editor of the Huber Machinery Museum newsletter.