Tony Haupt is known as Mr Patience after working his way through boxes of parts to fully restore a steam-powered tractor without its manual.
The Mackay man, who has spent 14 years reconstructing the 1908 Marshall Gainsborough colonial light traction engine, took it on its first outing recently at the Sarina tractor pull in central Queensland.
The 113-year-old tractor, which comes complete with metal track wheels and a burner for wood or coal, has been a labour of love.
“Everyone said they would have given up years and years ago on it, or sold it off,” he said.
And despite having spent years working on it, he says it’s the second love of his life — after his wife.
“Because they had to try and compete with the Americans on the market for engines going to the colonies back in the early days.”
This tractor is a rare piece of history, built just seven years after Australia’s Federation and the year of Sir Donald Bradman’s birth.
“It’s the oldest Marshall light traction colonial engine in steam in the world that I know of being 1908. They only started building this style 1907, 1908,” Mr Haupt said.
Years of dedication
If you ask Mr Haupt if it took too long to rebuild this beauty, he doesn’t miss a beat.
“This is my passion,” he said.
“And I think I’ve accomplished something great.”
It originally arrived in Mackay in a shipping container in pieces. Since then, Mr Haupt has rebuilt it from the ground up which included getting a new boiler built.
“Which [getting the boiler built] has taken me a number of years, cost-wise as well as getting the skilled craftsmen to do it.”
Maiden run attracts a crowd
Like-minded tractor enthusiasts flocked to see the tractor make its maiden run at the tractor pull.
“I [had previously] steamed it up in my backyard, I run it up and down my driveway about 20 metres, that’s as far as it’s gone,” Mr Haupt said.
For the two days it was on display, Mr Haupt estimated it used about a tonne of timber — his fuel of choice over coal to avoid thicker smoke.
As for what he’ll do now it’s restored and running, he’s not too sure.
“It’s just my passion, I’ve done it for myself.
“I’m so grateful the public do appreciate it. Steam is very unique around Mackay, there’s not much of it left around anymore.”