Letters to the Editor

Mystery solved: it's a skiving machine

| October 2006

In the past, I have run requests in Farm Collector and its sister publication, Gas Engine Magazine, regarding information on an unknown machine (February 2004, What Is It, item B) a friend of mine found. He knew I enjoyed working with old machines and gave it to me. The articles and a query to C.H. Wendel provided no answer as to what the machine was or was used for. Recently I contacted Farm Collector columnist Sam Moore; he didn't have a clue as to what the machine was. He contacted the local library in Wichita, Kan., and found out more than I had been able to find. They had no information on the machine, but had some record of a Bert E. Maxwell - who seemed to fit into the time frame. Sam suggested I try the historical society and Wichita State University.

WSU had more information regarding Maxwell, but nothing on the machine. Then, the Midwest Historical & Genealogy Society in Wichita solved the mystery. They came up with a copy of what appears to be a patent application produced by Maxwell. The information identifies the unit as a skiving machine. Skiving is the process of tapering leather or other material back from the end for splicing, such as harness straps or endless flat belts. Maxwell must have been an inventive person. It appears he saw a need and designed a machine to fulfill the need.

I thought I would pass the information on to Farm Collector. It appears that none of the readers knew anything about the machine. It has been enjoyable for me to finally learn something about the machine. I thought I had hit a dead end, but the Midwest Genealogical Society solved the mystery. I will make an attempt to put it in a museum.

I enjoy the magazine very much; keep up the good work.

- Ralph R. Look
8006 Watson Lane
Wichita, KS 67207