My 8 x 10 Frick traction engine
123 Ohio Avenue Morgantown, WV 26505
Since I was a child my family would attend various steam and gas engine shows. We went because my father has been collecting gas engines for thirty-two years. He started collecting engines because his great uncles had machine shops near Glenville West Virginia, where he used to spend the summer as a child. One machine shop located in an oil field region, the Glenville Tool Company, was line shaft driven using a large gas engine Dad is not sure what type of engine it was, because he was a child and did not pay attention to the engine. The shop also had a steam boiler and steam hammer to sharpen oil field bits. My father isn't sure when the shop closed, but in 1962 he tried to buy the engine. To his dismay he was two weeks late. The most despised person in the antique industry arrived first-the scrap metal dealer. Dad confronted the dealer to find that he had filled the cylinder with dynamite and blew it to smithereens! This is what started Mother's worst nightmare: his pursuit to collect 'junk '
While going to engine shows as a child, I did not like the gas engines as well as I liked the monstrous steam traction engines. Most likely I annoyed the engine owners, because I would always ask for a ride. Since I would ride traction engines all day my father knew where to find me
At 22 years of age, I began looking for a steam engine to buy. I told my cousin, who is vice-president of the C & V Engine Club in Chambersburg Pennsylvania, of my quest. He told me of a friend of his who owned a Frick. Two weeks after I asked my cousin to inquire about the engine he called me. The following Saturday my cousin my neighbor (a retired railroad fireman), and a friend who collects inch and a half scale trains and I were on our way to look at an 8 x 10 Frick The owner was asking more money than I had, so every night I prayed that no one would buy the engine One day my luck changed. The insurance man came to the door and asked if I was 'Jeff.' I told him yes so he reviewed my policy with me' giving me the amounts of my 22-year old dividends. I laughed and said 'It took that long to make that amount?'
He said, 'Son, this is insurance not an investment!' It was my lucky break, and all I needed except for $50. Needless to say, that Saturday I took my father to see the engine and I bought it. I never felt so great in my life!!! My first traction engine!!!
The engine is complete, including the boiler feed pump and the adjustable governor pulley. The front wheels do not match and the connecting rod is twisted, so if anyone has these parts I would be interested in obtaining them. The engine, originally used by a professional thresher, has not had a fire in it since 1927. Amazingly, the Frick has never sat outside since the last firing. When it was sold to the man I bought it from, he built a building and stored the engine in it until I purchased it. The engine is still at his house and I drive there to work on it. Once it is restored, I hope to keep it at the C & V Show grounds. I would also like to thank everyone who is helping with the restoration.
With all the excitement of my buying a steam engine, my father decided he should have a steam engine also. A friend of ours came to visit last winter and told us of a 5 HP Huber portable. I looked it up in the Encyclopedia of Steam Traction Enginesand Dad and I both had to have this engine. The next weekend we were in the car on a quest for a Huber. We found it, but to our disappointment, it was already sold. I talked to the lady at the house. She said that she and her brother owned it. She said it was their father's, who ran a cider press and used a copper coil to steam apple butter with it.
She said the engine was still there and the man had not picked it up yet. She was very nice and let us go look at the engine. When I saw it, I had to have it. It was the 5 HP 'Baby Huber' portable. We went back to the house and I asked her how long it had been sold. She said it had been sold a few months. I said, 'He must not want it very badly to let it sit there that long!' I asked her if she minded if I left my name and number so if the buyer did not want the engine I could have next refusal? She took my card and said okay. One day about nine months later, I decided to call them to check up on the engine. They said they were going to call me that weekend, because the man did not want the engine. That weekend my girlfriend and I went to the C & V Engine Show and we planned to purchase the Huber on the way home. Along our way to the Huber, we stopped in an antique shop and I found a 12' gold chain with a porcelain Huber watch-fob in mint condition. Needless to say I purchased it! What a stroke of luck!!!
When we arrived to purchase the Huber, I showed the brother and sister the watch-fob and they were excited. They were also excited that my father and I showed such an interest in wanting to restore and preserve their father's engine. I'll never forget the look in the sister's eyes, when I told them I would be interested in all the apple equipment also. I like to see engines belted to something actually working, and how many times do you find an engine and all the equipment that was actually used, stored in a barn covered with oil to preserve it? I did end up with all the equipment except the cider press so I will have to find one. (My cousin has a nicely restored cider press in his building. What do you want to trade, Bill?)
The 'Baby Huber' is in excellent shape and complete down to the original pressure gauge. It has the cutest little feed water pump, and the seat rests on a funnel which folds over so one can fill the boiler with water. (In the pictures the seat is removed for fear of breakage on the journey to its new home.) The father was the second owner and his neighbor was the first. The neighbor fired it once and was afraid of steam, so he sold it. The father pulled it onto the property with a team of mules. He then used it until about twenty years before he passed away. I must commend the family for not letting the engine deteriorate and saving a nice piece of history!
My father and I are currently researching the engine and are nearing the restoration stage. The engine number is #6952 with the last Patent on October 26, 1886. We would appreciate any information on this engine and paint colors. We are trying to complete the engine for the 50th Reunion of the National Threshers Association. We would also like to hear from other Huber owners about Huber restorations.
Also, when my girlfriend and I went to purchase the Huber, the brother said something to me I had never heard before. He asked me if my girlfriend was a prospect. I had to think about that one for a minute before I replied yes. I now know the answer is yes, because I bought her an engagement ring for Christmas; and no, I could not wait until Christmas to give it to her! I gave it to her the evening I purchased it!