C.H. Wendel answers readers' questions about antique tractors and other farm equipment.
This spring we invited Farm Collector readers to submit their questions for author/historian C.H. Wendel. Here are the 10 most intriguing, complete with answers from Wendel:
Q: Back in the day, farmers hooked two tractors in tandem for more horsepower. How did they shift the transmission on the back tandem tractor? I figured the brakes and clutches were linked by a connecting rod. The shifting looked tricky.
Don Baker, Waseca, Minn.
A: Actually, many of the homebrewed tractors used a rope-and-pulley arrangement to operate the clutch on the second unit. By locking both clutches out, the operator walked to the back unit and put it in gear, then got on the seat, put that one in gear and drove away.
Q: What is the history of the American Seeding Co., Richmond, Ind.?
Bill Manson, Stoughton, Wis.
A: American resulted from a 1903 merger of seven seeding machine companies. In 1919 American sold the factories of Hoosier Drill Co., Richmond, Ind., to International Harvester Co. Ten years later, in April 1929, American was a partner, along with Nichols & Shepard, Oliver Chilled Plow Works and Hart-Parr Co., in forming Oliver Farm Equipment Corp.
Q: I am searching for information on a Rome mower tractor. How rare is a Rome mower tractor?
Harold Eddy, Slater, Mo.
A: Rome was a built-up unit using OEM components. The company specialized in highway and municipal equipment, so anything from Rome is rarely found.
Q: I own a wooden Avery threshing machine. It's a 32 x 48 on steel (no wheel bearings to speak of). When I rebuilt the wooden sieves, there was a tag on one of them with all kinds of patent dates, with 1923 being the most current. Because of that, I know it was built after 1923. How much later than 1923 did they build these?
Greg Repinski, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
A:: Avery Co. went broke in 1924. Avery Farm Machinery Co. followed, and the latter built all-steel separators rather than wood. Yours might be one of the company's last wooden machines.
Q: I bought a piece of equipment at an auction that they called a corn broom thresher. Later, at another auction, I saw a piece of equipment just like the one I have with a tag on it reading "AJAX HORSE PICKING MACHINE." What's the difference between the two?
Steve Sylvester, Centuria, Wis.
A: A broom corn thresher was used to strip the seed heads from broom corn. The Ajax machine was used mainly to card mane hair and especially tail hair. Among many other uses, that hair was used to string a fiddle bow.
Q: Did Belle City and Buffalo Pitts build identical threshing machines? Any information about the International threshing machine as sold by IHC would be appreciated.
Kenneth Nudd, Nauvoo, Ill.
A: Buffalo-Pitts went into receivership in 1914. Belle City introduced its all-steel thresher in about 1923. International Harvester Co. sold the Buffalo-Pitts thresher early on and then apparently sold the Belle City thresher for a time. Harvester evidently built its own machine by the early 1930s, or it has been suggested that it was built to order by Belle City. Harvester was much more interested in combine development than in building threshing machines.
Q: When was the V 4-cylinder Wisconsin engine first used on farm equipment?
Arthur Clarke, Wakefield, R.I.
A: The V-4 came out in 1941. Wisconsin started building air-cooled engines in 1929 and introduced its 4-cylinder in-line in 1935. It was discontinued when the V-4 arrived.
Q: I have a Moline manure spreader, about 1925 vintage. I want to restore and paint it. What color should it be?
A. Robert Thorson, Corvallis, Mont.
A: A 1918 Moline spreader is illustrated in full color on page 242 of American Farm Implements. It was red with yellow wheels.
Q: I own a 1938 Farmall F-20 with the throttle on the left side of the gas tank, and in front of the gas tank it crosses over to the right side, then goes into the governor. I have seen a few other designs for the throttle, including one with the throttle on the right side going right into the governor; and another one with the throttle on the steering shaft, with the magneto lever, with a shaft going forward over hood and down through the hood to the governor. Can you tell me why they had so many different designs for these throttles?
Greg Repinski, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
A: Harvester had a huge research department that made constant changes and improvements.
Q: As I have restored my dad's metal hand-crank, 1-hole corn sheller, I am trying to find out what color, other than red, it was painted. Is there some International blue on the corn sheller? Where? What did the corn sheller have on it?
William Sayre, Newark, Ohio
A: Curiously, corn shellers were usually red, just as wagon boxes were almost always a shade of green. We can't tell you the trim color. Almost all of the early ones were stenciled, rather than using decals.