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 steamroller 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 3-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 plenty of water.
“It’s about 650 litres to come from Gore to here.”
Event convener Ken Bell said numbers at this year’s Crank Up were up from the year before, especially on the Saturday.
He was especially pleased with the display of tractors and classic cars.
“That’s always an unknown because they don’t have to register.”