Answers to November 2009 Mystery Tools


November 2009 Mystery Tool A1

A. After-market float that goes in the air washer (air cleaner) on an early Fordson tractor.

Submitted by John Miller

Content Tools

To view images of all four November2009 mystery tools and accompanying patent illustrations, click the Image Gallery link to the right.

A. After-market float that goes in the air washer (air cleaner) on an early Fordson tractor. “I have a 1927 Fordson with that air washer on it,” notes O’neal Lee, Gordo, Ala. “The air washer held water in which the air was forced across in order to clean it. When the water got low enough, the float shut the air off thus shutting the tractor down. Having water in the air washer also brought moisture into the carburetor that mixed with kerosene causing the motor to function properly. The tractor would start on gasoline then switch to kerosene after the engine warmed up.” Also identified by Woody Cone, Rochester, N.H.; William Ratliff, Middletown, Ind.; Jimmy Burcher, Appomattox, Va.; and Glenn Thompson, Penn Yan, N.Y. Photo submitted by John Miller, Maple Lake, Minn.

B. Farm Collector readers did not recognize this corn shock binder, used to compress shocks. The one pictured (possibly homemade) is missing the handle used to turn the shaft, the rope and possibly other parts. Photo submitted by Randy Smith. See patents 423,010 and 365,742 for similar items.

C. Hoof trimmer, as identified by David Hall, Reynolds, Ind.; Dennis Hensley, Bennington, Kan.; and Dave Hall, Reynolds, Ind. Photo submitted by Ralph Berger, Arnold, Mo. See patent 511,885 for a similar item.

D. We don’t recognize this piece but Al V. Wheeler, Yorkville, Ill., believes it to be a salt block holder of the type used in rabbit cages. “The holes show that it should have been hung up vertically,” he says. “The salt block is held in place by the hinged wire in front.” Photo submitted by John Miller, Maple Lake, Minn.

Remember this?

From the September 2009 issue of Farm Collector , Item A: This item, for which we have no positive identification, continues to generate responses from Farm Collector readers. Bob Rupert, Candler, N.C., believes Item A is a drive mechanism for a flexible shaft tool, such as a dental drill.

Bruce Cynar, Leo, Ind., thinks it might be the standard base for any one of several school demonstration and teaching devices offered by companies such as Knott, Welch or Central Scientific used to show the effects of centrifugal force, power a dynamo or spin a Wimshurst machine.

James Martio, Oxford, Ohio, echoes that theory. “It looks like a piece of apparatus I used in the physics lab,” he says. “It appears to be missing a wheel that mounts at the top. It had the three primary colors on the missing wheel and I was able to adjust how much of each primary color was exposed. After setting the exposure of each primary color on the missing wheel, turning the crank enabled me to create any color of the rainbow I wanted. Varying the speed also affected the perceived color. Students loved to play with it. They were really surprised that all colors could be made with just the three primary colors. This was before color TV and long before computers.”

Ralph Sager, Ham Lake, Minn., thinks it might be a hand-powered sheep-shearing tool. “It would have a shaft hooked to the spindle on the back of the tool. It would be mounted on a table. Some sheep shearers would lift the animal onto a table to shear it. It would have three or four 36-inch shafts connected together with flex gears so as to allow movement for shearing.”

Woody Cone, Rochester, N.H., recalls seeing a similar piece at the 19th century Willowbrook Village in Newfield, Maine. “It was in the room with looms, spinning wheels, etc.,” he says.

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

  • Photos should be taken in a well-lit area against a plain background. Include dimensions and any markings on the piece. We cannot guarantee every photo will be published, nor can we respond to inquiries regarding when photos will be published. No photos will be returned.
  • Digital photos should be sent as .jpgs at a minimum of 300 dpi.

To identify an item:
Send answers (accompanied by your name and address) to Farm Collector, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. Send e-mail responses to