Huber Light Four Woodworking Project

Woodcraftsman recreates the Huber Light Four using 21 varieties of wood

| April 2011

What make & model farm tractor was made in Marion, Ohio, first introduced in 1916 and 92 years later re-created in Lake Stevens, Wash.? 

If you answered the Huber Light Four, you are correct. This Huber model weighed just 5,200 pounds, had a 12-25 hp rating derived from a 4-cylinder Waukesha engine (4-1/2-by-5-3/4-inch bore and stroke) and sold for $1,085 ($18,484 today).

The 2008 replica of the Light Four was a woodworking project: a 1/2-scale working model hand-crafted by Mike Pray, Lake Stevens. Mike used 21 varieties of wood, including antique heart pine salvaged from a Virginia sawmill destroyed by fire in 1890. The heart pine was given to Mike by a close friend, the late Walt Washen, who acquired it from the grandson of the man who originally salvaged the wood. Mike used the pine for the tractor’s engine block, steering wheel and a fender brace. Willow branches were utilized to make realistic looking spark plug wires.

Retired from Boeing where he worked as a parts expediter, Mike loves woodworking projects. He spent more than 2,000 hours over a three-year period on the project, traveled many miles and talked to several people to gather data and information on the “real thing,” all with the goal of making his finished piece realistic and workable.

How does it work? Begin by turning the crank to “start” the engine (whoops: first pull out the realistic dipstick and “check” the engine oil level). The rear wheels, which are 30 inches in diameter, turn via straight-cut wooden gears, and the fan also turns. The steering wheel actually turns the front wheels via authentic wooden worm – yes, worm – gears! How many of you woodcraftsmen out there have turned out wooden worm gears?

Mike was determined to craft a tractor that would be considered unique in his area. After seeing a photo, he settled on Huber. But it was no easy task to find a real Huber out West. After much searching, Mike finally located one at Yanke Machine Shop, Boise, Idaho. This full-size, fully restored Huber was part of the late Ed Wagner’s unique collection in Lewiston, Idaho. Mike made many new friends and contacts in his quest for information, especially at the Huber Museum in Marion.