The Rynda Huber

Fifty Years Ago, “Steam Engine Joe” Rynda Salvaged a 30 HP Huber: Today, it's Up and Running

| January / February 2005

  • The circa-1920 30 HP Huber, serial no. 11275
    The circa-1920 30 HP Huber, serial no. 11275, running at the 2004 White Pine Logging & Threshing Show in McGrath, Minn. Jordon Moser is at the wheel with Mark Snyder standing behind. 
  • Huber as it looked the day of auction, its wheels firmly planted in the earth
    Huber as it looked the day of auction, its wheels firmly planted in the earth; tow strap wrapped around flywheel to help “walk” the Huber out of its resting place; the Huber finally pulls free after 50 years. 
  • Huber as it looked the day of auction, its wheels firmly planted in the earth
    Huber as it looked the day of auction, its wheels firmly planted in the earth; tow strap wrapped around flywheel to help “walk” the Huber out of its resting place; the Huber finally pulls free after 50 years. 
  • Huber as it looked the day of auction, its wheels firmly planted in the earth
    Huber as it looked the day of auction, its wheels firmly planted in the earth; tow strap wrapped around flywheel to help “walk” the Huber out of its resting place; the Huber finally pulls free after 50 years. 
  • Doug Langenbach (left), auctioneer Lonnie Nixon, Leonard Rynda and Doug's son Steve stand with the Huber after pulling it out of the trees
    Doug Langenbach (left), auctioneer Lonnie Nixon, Leonard Rynda and Doug's son Steve stand with the Huber after pulling it out of the trees. Fortunately for Doug, Leonard, “Steam Engine Joe” Rynda's son, remembered where a broken piece of the Huber's cast iron draft door had last been seen sitting in the yard 30 years prior: The Langenbachs found the door. 
  • Connie and Ted Odenthal prepare to remove the Huber from the Rynda property
    Connie and Ted Odenthal prepare to remove the Huber from the Rynda property. The Odenthal's drove their tractor seven miles to help with the task. 
  • The Huber safely loaded on Jim Greski's lowboy.
    The Huber safely loaded on Jim Greski's lowboy. Note the encroaching homes in the background, a major factor in Leonard Rynda's decision to part with his father's collection of engines. When “Steam Engine Joe” started collecting engines, his farm was out in the country. 
  • Mark Snyder works on putting the Huber's engine back together after a thorough cleaning
    Mark Snyder works on putting the Huber's engine back together after a thorough cleaning. The engine was in excellent condition and went back together with its original rings and bearings. 
  • July 17, 2004; the Huber fires for the first time in perhaps 50 years
    July 17, 2004; the Huber fires for the first time in perhaps 50 years – and a scant two months and one week after purchase. A new canopy is still to come, as is work on one of the differential drive gears. 

  • The circa-1920 30 HP Huber, serial no. 11275
  • Huber as it looked the day of auction, its wheels firmly planted in the earth
  • Huber as it looked the day of auction, its wheels firmly planted in the earth
  • Huber as it looked the day of auction, its wheels firmly planted in the earth
  • Doug Langenbach (left), auctioneer Lonnie Nixon, Leonard Rynda and Doug's son Steve stand with the Huber after pulling it out of the trees
  • Connie and Ted Odenthal prepare to remove the Huber from the Rynda property
  • The Huber safely loaded on Jim Greski's lowboy.
  • Mark Snyder works on putting the Huber's engine back together after a thorough cleaning
  • July 17, 2004; the Huber fires for the first time in perhaps 50 years

Any roster of legendary figures in the steam and threshing hobby has to include an entry for “Steam Engine Joe” Rynda. One of the early boosters of threshing bees and reunions, Rynda was an active and inspiring force in the early days of the hobby. The threshing bees held on his Minnesota farm were known throughout the steam community, and Rynda was regarded as a central figure in the hobby.

An inveterate collector of steam traction engines, Rynda was known to comb the countryside in his Luscombe Silveraire airplane, his sharp eye scanning the ground below for another engine to add to his collection. By the time he died in 1971, Rynda had amassed a collection of perhaps 56 engines. On May 7-8, 2004, in a sale that was as much an event as anything, most of those engines were sold. Never before had the steam and threshing hobby seen so many engines in one collection – and in such a legendary collection – opened up for viewing and purchase.

But time has a nasty habit of taking its toll, and when Rynda's collection went to auction there was prevailing sentiment in some circles the engines wouldn't be fit for restoration, having sat too long out in the elements. Some opined the engines were probably junk in the first place, an opinion that wouldn't find much quarter with some former friends of Rynda, who know first-hand the care Rynda paid to his collection.

By the time the gavel fell on the auction, $433,400 and 44 engines had changed hands, and Rynda's collection was scattered, literally, to the far corners of the earth. Two engines went to South America, and at least two more were rumored to be heading out of the country. Even so, at least two of Rynda's engines stayed in Minnesota.



Eagerly attending the Rynda auction were Minnesota residents Doug Langenbach, his wife, Sandy, and their son, Steve. Hardly newcomers to the hobby, the Langenbachs have a long history in the steam and threshing community. Since 1979, the Langenbachs have hosted the White Pine Logging and Threshing Show at the Langenbach farm in McGrath. They also collect engines, and prior to the Rynda sale, they had already amassed a family collection of nine engines. By the time the sale was over, they had two more; an 1893 16 HP Avery return-flue and a circa-1920 30 HP Huber return-flue. More remarkably, by July 17, 2004, a brief two months and one week after the auction, the Huber was running.

The Huber

According to Doug, the Huber hadn't turned a wheel in probably 50 years, and at auction its rear drivers and front wheels were rooted deep in the ground. Doug's heard rumors that when Rynda bought this Huber it was located 30 miles from Rynda's farm, and that Rynda drove it the 30 miles to get it home. Doug can't vouch for that story, but, he says, “When we cleaned out the barrel there was ash in it, and nails and screws; they were burning what they could.”



SUBSCRIBE TO FARM COLLECTOR TODAY!

Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

Save Even More Money with our SQUARE-DEAL Plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our SQUARE-DEAL automatic renewal savings plan. You'll get 12 issues of Farm Collector for only $24.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of Farm Collector for just $29.95.




Facebook Pinterest YouTube

Classifieds