Family steams ahead

Eric Eaves takes his 1912 traction engine for a spin at the Edendale Vintage Machinery Club's 34th annual Crank Up on Saturday.

IF Eric Eaves likes to blow off some steam, it is not surprising it runs in the family.

The Gore man rolled up to the Edendale Vintage Machinery Club’s 34th annual Crank Up on Saturday aboard a 1912 traction engine.

He “came from steam”, and was the third generation in his family to handle a steam engine, he said.

“My mother’s father drove a steam-roller in Christchurch,” he said.

“Dad owned a traction engine since about 1965. It’s in the blood.”

Also attending the event was daughter Brylea Eaves (16), the aspiring fourth-generation steam engine driver in the family.

She had practised in the paddock for years and planned to get a traction-engine licence, although that was becoming more difficult because of a lack of people to administer the driving test, Mr Eaves said.

He no longer knew of anyone in Southland qualified to test would-be drivers.

The 1912 traction engine was different from many others seen at Crank Up, because it was a three-speed which had been built for road haulage rather than agriculture.

The traction engine was kept in a shed in Canterbury from 1974 until he bought it in 2016.

When the time came to start it up again, it needed only minor repairs.

“It’s actually missed out on a lot of abuse. It hadn’t been used for over 40 years.”

Fortune had changed for the traction engine, which he used as “a toy” and drove for events such as Gore’s Christmas parade.

“Any excuse we get, we use it.

“It averages about 10kmh. If you want to thrash it, it will do 20.”

The journey from Gore to Edendale took about three hours on the road, and used plenty of water

Crank Up convener Ken Bell said the day proved popular, and numbers were up from the year before.

“We had a really good day. The weather was pleasant which can make or break an outdoor event,” he said.