Answers to July 2009 Mystery Tools


Combination fence tool.

A. Combination fence tool. See patent 640,598.

Submitted by Sammy Spears, Blackburn, Okla.

Content Tools

To view images of all four July 2009 mystery tools and accompanying patent illustrations, click the idividual items below or the Image Gallery link to the right.

A.  Combination fence tool , as identified by Vernon Emery, Ekalaka, Mont.; Larry Thompson, Glen Ellyn, Ill.; Alfred Dobberfuhl, Mequon, Wis.; Bob Kuhns, Arlington, Kan.; Stephen Clemens, Mazeppa, Minn.; Keith Mahaffey, Enid, Okla.; Harold Jehle, Baldwin, Kan.; Onie Sims, Whittier, Calif.; and Joel Blasius, Tea, S.D.

“This looks like a fence tool I saw many years ago,” Larry writes. “The fork end was used to remove staples by sliding the forks around the staple and under the wire and prying the staple out. The notch in the side by the hinge was used to cut wire, and the flat area by the hinge was used as a hammer to drive in a staple when the handles were closed. One tool to carry for quick fence repairs.” Photo submitted by Sammy Spears, Blackburn, Okla. See patent 640,598.

B.  Snow fence slat replacer . Photo submitted by Mark Yoder, Goshen, Ind. See patent 639,521 for a similar piece.

C.  Beading tool , as identified by Larry Thompson; Gary Yaeger, Kalispell, Mont.; Alfred Dobberfuhl; Marvin Vriezen, Wautoma, Wis.; Gailey Henderson, Williamstown, W.Va.; Allen McCloskey, Galveston, Ind.; Anthony Stadtmueller, Oshkosh, Wis.; Gene Williams, Piedmont, S.D.; Rod Jones, Richland, Wash.; and Fred Garlinghouse, Barbeau, Mich. In Wisconsin, Marvin says, the tool is called a “crowfoot.” It was used by boiler replacement repairmen to put a round finish bead on a steel boiler flue.

“The tool displayed is badly eroded and does not show a true picture,” Marvin says. “The heel of the crowfoot should have a sharp curved heel to produce a neat-round bead. When boiler flues get old and leak, the old flue is chiseled out and a new flue (cut to length) is replaced. The new flue is sealed to the end boilerplates by inserting a roller inside the tube and rotating it to make a seal. Depending on the diameter of the tube or flue, the end extends about 1/2-inch beyond the boilerplate on each end. With the use of a proper size ball peen hammer, the tube end is peened out like a flute to the outside of the boilerplate. The crowfoot is now used to form the final neat-round bead to the boilerplate. The foot of the curved tool helps guide you around the perimeter of the tube or flue. If the procedure was not done properly, leaving the tube ends exposed, the fire in the boiler would burn off the tube ends and eat the tubes away. This was a job I experienced many times and I usually did school boilers during the summer breaks; a hot, dirty job.”

The tool is sometimes called a “lady’s slipper,” Gary notes, because of its inherent shape. Photo submitted by Roger Hubele, Enfield, Ill. See patent 1,162,861 for a similar piece.

D. We have  no positive identification for this item . Allen McCloskey and Fred Garlinghouse believe it is a part from a tandem disc harrow.

“When I was a kid back in the ’40s, my dad had a David Bradley tandem disc harrow that used a chain and swivel assembly like this between the rear disc gangs,” Allen says. “It was connected to the gangs’ axel nuts to keep the gangs from spreading or drifting too far apart during operation. The swivels at each end would keep it from kinking up. Other brands used a more rigid frame, therefore they didn’t need this chain.”

On the other hand, Marlin Herbst, Merrill, Iowa, speculates that it could be a shackle used to keep a milk cow from kicking. Photo submitted by Roger Hubele, Enfield, Ill.

To submit photos:
Send prints to Farm Collector, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. Send digital images to:

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To identify an item:
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