Last Huber goes to Smithsonian

By Staff
article image
A. F. Brandt
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

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

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

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.

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