Some men like to collect stamps. Others go for miniature trains
or famous paintings. But not Ed Hunt of 1359 E. Traffic way,
Springfield, Missouri. His hobby weighs 20,000 pounds and belches
smoke like an ancient Cannonball Express. It’s a steam traction
engine – a machine that made Grand pop pulse with pride as it
effectively provided motive power for grain-threshing
Ed, who has been in the automobile and farm machinery business
in Eldon for several years, acquired the 40-year-old machine and
promptly elevated it from an ordinary workaday outfit to a freshly
painted spit-‘n-polish affair that proudly travels in community
parades and local fairs.
Not that the slow-moving behemoth has gone completely high-hat.
Every now and then Ed drives it to a neighboring farm to power a
grain separator, and the engine is always available for use in
emergency heating of buildings and moving of heavy loads.
It wasn’t just by chance that Ed acquired his fascinating
hobby. Both his Father and Grandfather had operated steam engines,
and when he was only 13 years old Ed was already stoking the boiler
and helping his Father operate a steam rig that toured the
countryside during harvest season, threshing grain for all the
community. The whistle of Ed’s present engine came from the old
machine operated by his Grandfather.
The Aultman-Taylor, 48-horsepower traction engine that is
Ed’s pride and joy, was built in Mansfield, Ohio, about 1910.
When Ed acquired the machine he put in new parts, equipped it with
a steam syphon for drawing water from creeks and wells, and with
1500 pounds of coal in the hoppers he can operate for many hours
without the need of a tender.
‘She’s in better shape now than when she was built,’
Hunt says proudly, ‘runs just like a sewing machine.’