Farm Collector

No Soot in the Flues Yet!

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!

  • Published on Jan 1, 1994
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