LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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Garden tractor

Content Tools

I acquired this small garden tractor from a neighbor. I have taken it to a couple of shows and no one has ever seen or heard of it. I would like to hear from anyone with information about this little tractor.

Max Speer, 2040 F Road, Delta, CO81416

Telephone talk

I am a vintage telephone collector. My oldest phone is a two-box and was patented in 1895. I also have one with a white mouthpiece. Why a white mouthpiece? When a new product is introduced, some people always are suspicious of it. In the case of the telephone, some thought it transmitted germs as well as voices, and if a caller had a cold, he or she was subject to being hung up on. So, an ingenious businessman invented a white, 'sterilized' mouthpiece to allay the fears of those concerned with 'transmitted germs.'

When I was growing up in the 1920s, we had an eight-party phone line. With no radio, everyone 'rubbered' in on all the phone calls to get the latest news.

Our number was 14-F-4, meaning 14 was the line and 4 was the number of short rings to signal us. One long ring signaled the switchboard operator in Taneytown, four miles away.

I still have a 1939 county telephone directory with all of our neighbors' numbers in it.

Martin L Zimmerman, 4853 Walnut Grove Road, Taneytown, MD 21787

Old scale sparks interest

We cannot find any markings on the frame, wheels or platform of this portable scale. The wood on the scale platform is 1-inch thick and is tongue-and-groove. It seems to accurately weigh 1,500 pounds. Any information, manuals, articles or general history would be appreciated.

Don McKinley, 1336 Boy Scout Road, Quincy, IL 62305; (217) 223-5099;e-mail: deerroad@adams.net

Alfalfa seed thresher query

We are starting an antique farm machinery museum in Wakefield, Kan., and have acquired an alfalfa seed thresher with which we are unfamiliar. The feeder housing was made in Des Moines, Iowa, but we can find nothing more on the implement. Does anyone have any information?

Gail Bauer, 724 Prospect St., Clay Center, KS 67432; (785) 632-2387

Corn picker needs work 

I have a Moline corn picker, model LD, serial no. 39104038. I want to restore it and am seeking information on who the manufacturer was and how the picker was constructed.

Marion C. Hogge, 3333 Guiena Circle, Hayes, VA 23072; (804)642-4189

Wagon tools revisited

After reading the 'Early Wagon Tools' article in the June issue of Farm Collector, I think I have further information on the buggy jack on the far left of the page along with the name 'Ashland' on the main frame.

It is labeled as a light buggy jack, but I believe these were made here in Ashland, Ohio, and used in the early days of the automobile as a jack stand to lift the automobile weight off of the tires during the time of the year when roads were impassable. There also were times when people simply jacked up their parked cars to take the weight strain off the tires.

The part to the far left would fit under the wheel hub. Pushing down on the handle would take most of the weight off the tires, but it took four of these jacks for a complete set. Jack stands were much quicker and easier to use than wood blocks. The round ed part that touched the auto hub was fitted with leather so that it would not mar the auto hub.

John M. McNaull, 699 County Road 1775, Ashland, OH 44805

Roundhouse memories

When I was 14 (I'm 87 now), we lived in Bellevue, Iowa, not more than two blocks from the narrow-gauge round house. The little train went from Bellevue to Cascade, a distance of 30 miles, each day. It pulled out of Bellevue about 9 a.m. and returned about 5 p.m.

I spent a lot of time at the roundhouse because I was interested in steam, and finally, one day the boss asked me if I wanted a job. Yes, I said. Our work start ed after the engineer dropped his string of cars on a side track, filled the coal car with coal and water, and brought the engine to the roundhouse, where he parked it over a pit and opened the gate so the live coals fell out.

We then filled the domes with sand and ran the engine on the turntable so it was headed back for Cascade. Then I would carry an armful of wood up to the engine, and get a bucket of oil and a bunch of waste ready for morning. That done, I would go home until the next day.

Bright and early the following morning, I'd go back to the roundhouse and put an armful of wood in the engine, dump some oil and oil-saturated waste on the wood and light this mess. When it was burning well, I'd shovel in a load of coal and hike off to school.

I received 50 cents a day for this work, except for Saturdays, when I got $1. That was about all any man earned at that time.

Ed Portz, Box 24, Andrew, IA 52030

Chopping cotton - the easy way

During the 1930s and 1940s, farmers were still thinning their cotton and chopping weeds and grass from rows with what was commonly known as the 'hoe.' Some hoes were goose necked or straight necked; some were heavy or light, with wide blades or narrow blades, and all got heavier as the day progressed. The straw boss had the job of leading the field, and all choppers or 'hoe'ers,' as some were called, were expected to maintain a steady gait and not lag behind. When reaching the end of the row, the choppers loved to take a short break, especially if a large shade tree was there. The straw boss used this time to sharpen the hoes while the water boy served water from a large galvanized bucket with an aluminum dipper. Sometimes a 10- to 20-gal-lon keg or barrel was filled with cool well water and carried to the field in the bed of an old pickup truck. The keg was covered with a tow (burlap) sack to keep the water cool.

During this period, someone, somewhere, was thinking and experimenting with a mechanical device that would hopefully put an end to the hoe for thinning cotton. Of the many types of cotton thinners/choppers that were manufactured by various farm equipment and supply companies, a few survived the scrap yard. To my knowledge, not one of these mechanical contraptions was very efficient. Under certain ground/soil conditions, they worked, but not nearly as well as the old standby -the hoe!

I do not know who the manufacturers were of the two types of cot ton thinners/choppers shown in the pictures. My father, being a progressive farmer, was willing to try out new ways of getting the job done. Somewhere he found and bought these two contraptions to see if either would work. Of six boys in the family, none remembers where Dad got them, although we do remember working with them. A tractor powered one, while the other was pulled by mules or horses. If anyone knows the company that made them, the year and color of each, please contact me.

The unit at left looks like a tractor cultivator. The triangular-shaped hoes oscillated as the tractor moved forward. It was powered by the tractor PTO shaft and lowered or raised by a hydraulic cylinder. Mules or horses pulled the unit shown below. The wheels supplied power through a chain-driven gear arrangement. The four circular blades on each side rotated as the unit moved along the row. The blades could be raised or lowered by hand levers, and foot pedals were used for steering. 

Burton Marsh, 2511 S. W. Rockhouse Road, Madison, AL 35756;  (256) 340-7339

New life for a 20th-century 'antique'

I thought your readers might enjoy seeing how I put my old satellite receiver to a good use. It lets in just the right amount of sunlight. The 6- by 6-inch square legs and frame are made out of treated cedar. I made the cupola on top by putting an all-thread through an old, large funnel and a metal rooster. Then, I used a solid brass ball to top the rod. The bottom of the rod makes a good hook for a hanging plant. The finished gazebo measures 12 1/2-feet wide and 18-feet long. Note the black rectangles on each leg. Those are 'down lights' that I made from 5- by 5-inch square aluminum tubing and I capped the tops. The small sign above the entry was made from cedar with a router and a rounded bit. It reads, 'Rancho Notsogrande.'

It's a very relaxing and enjoyable part of our backyard that I had a lot of fun building at very little cost.

Wayne Robnett, 2901 W. Idaho St., Chickasha, OK 73018; (405) 222-0545

Of bolts and pump leathers

I just read the article about Mr. Unzelman making his own square-headed bolts. These bolts are available from McMaster-Carr Supply Co., which has a Web site (www.mcmaster.com) and numerous locations in larger cities. In the January 2002 issue of Farm Collector, I saw Richard Wetzel's note about pump leathers. I suggest trying Lehman's Hardware (www.lehmans.com), Kidron, Ohio. If

you are ever in that part of the country it is worth your time to stop at this hardware store. The 'leathers' Mr. Wetzel is seeking are probably the same as the pressure pump leathers for gasoline lamps.

Larry N. Jones, Museum Specialist, Agricultural Collection, National Museum of American History, NMAH 5004 MRC 628, Washington, DC 20560