WHAT - IS - IT?

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Mystery tools

Content Tools

The genius of pioneer inventors can confound us. Countless contraptions that revolutionized farming in the 19th and early 20th centuries have become contemporary curiosities, or even mysteries. Here are three sent in by readers. Do you know what they are?

May's mystery tools

A. Fire fighter's spanner wrench, owned by Everett Smith of Willow Wood, Ohio. Evidently, this wrench wasn't much of a 'What-is-it?' for fire fighters since it's used by fire departments across America. Answers came from California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Virginia with many replies penned by fire fighters. '[It's used] to tighten and loosen fire hose connections,' Jamie Wheeler of Learn, III., says. 'The pointed tip can be used for prying and has a slit in it to fit over gas meters to shut them off. The hook has a notch to fit the lugs on older fire hoses.'

B. Fence-repair tool, submitted by Angi Knutson of Inwood, Iowa. People who identified the tool include Gerald Gengler, Le Mars, Iowa; Raymond Wickham, Dumont, Iowa; Jim Plantikow, Omaha, Neb.; Bob Spencer, Stanton, Iowa; James Gambrell, Columbia City, Ind.; Robert Radke, Clintonville, Wis.; Onie Sims, Whittier, Calif.; Leon Bryan, Panora, Iowa; and Walter Wilkens of Albert City, Iowa.

C. Wire stretcher, owned and identified by Jim Moffet of Modesto, III. Onie Sims and Jim Plantikow also correctly identified this tool. Plantikow notes it was manufactured by Western Steel & Iron Works, De Pere, Wis.