May 2015 Mystery Tool A
A. Unidentified. Photo submitted by Virgil Cassill via email.
May 2015 Mystery Tool B
A. Case and box machine used to hold the heads of wooden boxes and crates – in particular, egg cases before the era of cardboard cartons – in position during construction. Identified by Stephen Clemens, Mazeppa, Minnesota; Robert M.Peters, Independence, Missouri; Dick Kates, Oakland, Iowa; and Gary Studebaker, Larwill, Indiana.
The device enabled one person to build boxes and crates by holding the two ends and center partition in place, while the bottom and side slats were nailed on. It also rotated, allowing access to all four sides of the crate. The machine was used to construct 30-dozen egg cases consisting of two 15-dozen compartments side by side. The 30-dozen cases were in heavy demand for shipping and delivery from farm to town.
“I have one that I show at threshing shows each summer,” says Dick Kates. “They could be adjusted to make orange crates. When I was growing up on the farm, the place where we sold our eggs and cream on Wednesday and Saturday nights had an egg crate machine. If you needed a 30-dozen egg case, they would make you one.” See patent no. 695,364. Photo submitted by Doug Anders, Naples, Florida.
Patent no. 695,364: Case and box machine. Patent issued to James K. Ashley, Rushville, Ill., March 11, 1902.
May 2015 Mystery Tool C
A. Post point from a fence stretching pulley (dating to about 1900) manufactured by Hunt-Helm-Ferris Co. as part of its Starline series. The post point connects the fixed block to the fence post; the moveable block is on the end that secures the fence wire. Identified by Barry Merenoff, New Haven, Michigan; Stephen Clemens; Marlin O. Herbst, Merrill, Iowa; and Marvin Hansen, Guelph, North Dakota. See patent no. 584,340. Photo submitted by Rodney Peterson, Shorewood, Minnesota.
Post point from a fence-stretching pulley set (circa 1900). Illustration by Barry Merenoff, The Mechanical Advantage.
Patent no. 584,340: Hoist. Patented granted to Henry L. Ferris, Harvard, Ill., June 15, 1897.
May 2015 Mystery Tool D
A. Towel holder used for quick access by bartenders and cooks. Identified by Larry Orlando, Westerly, Rhode Island; Judy Ann Broner, Malone, Florida; and Clifton Baxter, Malone, Florida. Photo submitted by Dennis Hermann, Lake Forest, Illinois.
May 2015 Mystery Tool E
A. Counter/tally device. Ron Stevenson, Don Ferree, Climax, North Carolina; Loren Lindsay, Mankato, Minnesota; Robert Sattazahn, Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania; David Casner, Loyville, Pennsylvania; Stephen Clemens; Stanley Deisemann, Shartlesville, Pennsylvania; Robert Scholz, Elmo, Missouri; Linda Star, Corsica, South Dakota; Bernard Geisel, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin; Marlin O. Herbst; Robert Depperman, Kennard, Nebraska; Clayton Millie, Fremont, Nebraska; Kenneth Tate, Dewey, Oklahoma; Timothy Potaczec, Cornell, Wisconsin; Roger Palmer, Brandon, Iowa; Edward N. Regole, Saint Charles, Illinois; Alan Duffield, Browns Valley, Minnesota; Gary Studebaker; Dale Gengenbach, Eustis, Nebraska; Myron Olufson, Gatzke, Minnesota; Robert Thorson, Crovallis, Montana; Melroy Wiskow, Greenbush, Minnesota; Lyle Schwarzrock, Poplar, Montana; Joe Moll, McFarland, Wisconsin; and Ralph R. Look, Wichita, Kansas, believe this to be a counter that would have been attached to scales on a threshing machine.
“This is a counter off of a Hart grain weigher, made by Hart-Carter Co., from a threshing machine,” David Casner says. “A small hopper on top of the weigher measures the grain by weight. Each time the hopper fills and dumps the grain into the unloading auger, a chain turns the gear on the end of the counter shaft and turns the units dial to count one unit. Once the units dial gets to 10, a metal tab contacts a tab on the center dial and turns it to one. After that happened 10 times, a metal tab on the center dial contacts another tab on the hundreds dial, turning it to one also.”
Others believe it to be an acre counter off a grain drill. We have no way of determining which it is, but clearly it is a tally device. The following identified it as being part of a grain drill: John Musick, Wellsville, Kansas; Jim Cornell, Bedford, Pennsylvania; Ken Bolton, Fall Creek, Wisconsin; Daniel W. Naeger, St. Mary, Missouri; Donald D. Sarchet, Tulia, Texas; P.T. Rathbone, Marsing, Idaho; Gene E. Jerovitz, Kewaunee, Wisconsin; Leighton Abrahamson, Browerville, Minnesota; Arlen Kyllo, Zumbrota, Minnesota; Richard P. Johnson, Johnstown, Ohio; Dennis Holbrook, New Plymouth, Idaho; Milo Harpstead, Stevens Point, Wisconsin; and Ted Johnson, Granite Falls, Minnesota. See patent no. 909,185. Photo submitted by Jason Combs, Kearney, Nebraska.
Patent no. 909,185: Tally Box. Patent issued to Ernest K. Hood, Indianapolis, Ind., Jan. 12, 1909.
April 2015 Mystery Tool A
A. Beading implement used on tubes/flues in steam engines. Identified by Stephen Clemens, Mazeppa, Minnesota; Dick Kates, Oakland, Iowa; and Mike Garross, Beach Park, Illinois. “The round part in the middle goes in one tube and the far left one goes in the tube that you want to bead,” Mike says. “Beading is the rolling over of the end of the tube. Each time the hammer is raised, it turns the beading tool a small amount. Keep hitting until you have gone all the way around the tube. It will take several passes around to complete the beading.” Photo submitted by John Krock, Kenton, Ohio.
April 2015 Mystery Tool B
A. Unidentified. Photo submitted by Virgil Cassill via email.
April 2015 Mystery Tool C
A. Unidentified. Photo submitted by Ben and Sandra Swope, Ashley, Ohio.
April 2015 Mystery Tool D
A. No definitive answer. Kenny Payne, Irvington, Kentucky, believes this to be a belt-driven tachometer. Dick Kates and Marlin Herbst, Merrill, Iowa, believe it to be a specialized governor. Photo submitted by Clarence Gibbs, Inman, South Carolina.
April 2015 Mystery Tool E
A. Chain used in rotary cement kilns. Identified by Michael Janis, Nazareth, Pennsylvania, and Barry Jones, Monroe, Michigan. “It is hung in a tubular kiln, dips into wet slurry and exposes the slurry to hot gas as the kiln rotates,” Michael says. “Several tons of this type of chain are used in the heat exchanger job at the kiln’s feed end. A few years ago, most cement and lime kilns were wet process and used this chain. Some lime kilns still use this chain. When worn chain is removed, it is usually sold for scrap, but on occasion is sold or given to farmers who sometimes use it to break up clods in their fields, much like a set of harrows. The chain is not suitable for structural applications. It has been designed for maximum heat exchange area to evaporate water from feed slurry.” The wet process has been all but abandoned in the U.S., Barry adds. “I worked at what I think was the last plant in Detroit in the 1980s,” he says. “A wet kiln is 600 feet long and 16 feet in diameter. It rotates at about 2-3 rpm, and operates at 2,900 degrees. The kiln is lined with the chains; as it rotates, the chains carry heat down into a liquid slurry of ground limestone, clay and water to heat it and break up chunks as it dries.” Photo submitted by Wilfrid Vittetoe, Washington, Iowa.