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Fanning mill
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Dry washer

Occasionally Farm Collector will print answers to readers’ questions when information is available from knowledgeable sources.

Letter from the February 2004 issue of Farm Collector:

The ‘Fully functional, but for what?’ item on page 5 of the December 2003 issue may well be what is called a ‘dry washer.’ Much of California’s gold was derived from the sand and gravels of streams using a variety of pans, rockers, sluice boxes – and later – dredges. But those who prospected in the dry California desert regions used air to separate the heavy gold from the lighter sand and gravel.

This ‘dry washer’ blew air up through a screen on which the gold-bearing material was spread. The heavy gold remained behind. The handles allowed it to be moved from one place to another. Sometimes these areas were known as ‘dry diggings’ to distinguish them from the usual wet areas along streams. Quite a few dry washers were used in California’s Mojave Desert in the first half of the 20th century, especially during the Great Depression.

Of course this item could be some thing else completely, but the ‘dry washer’ sure comes to mind.

– R.H. Chamberlain P.O. Box 2320 Flournoy, CA 96029

‘In the February issue, you published my letter tentatively identifying a device as a ‘dry washer’ for mining gold. Now, we have a correct identification from a reader. His letter and picture are as follows:’

– R. H. Chamberlain


I saw your reply in ‘Letters to the Editor’ in Farm Collector.

I am sending you a picture of a fanning mill I have in my collection. It is a small exhibit that salesmen took along to show farmers what it was like and how it would work.

The picture in the magazine is not complete. Most of the screens are missing. On my farm, I also have the real working model I still use, but it’s a lot bigger.

What this machine does is clean many different kinds of seeds like wheat, oats, barley, corn, beans, etc., so you can plant them without the trouble of using your grain drill.

I am 84 years old, and I have a big trailer full of old stuff I take around for people to see. I am still farming 400 acres now, but I only put up hogs and have beef cattle.

Hope this will help you.

– Nello Mungar 23 Skyline Drive Hickory, PA 15340 (724) 356-7806

Some assembly required

Do you know anyone familiar with the processes involved, considerations and resources needed in order to set up a tractor show, be it antiques, farm equipment, stationary engines or a ‘working’ event? I’d like to know how to contact those with experience, and maybe a willingness to advise an up-start organization in putting on such a display. I realize there are expenses, but again I haven’t much of an idea of how to quantify or how to plan ways to recoup the expenses.

There are a few minor shows in our area of northeast Kansas that center on steam engines, but I believe there is a lot more potential for public entertainment.

John L Bennett PRIDE Chairman 410 Hithergreen Lansing, KS 66043 (913)727-6500 e-mail: jbennett 10@kc. rr. com

The Thieman story

I sure would like for you to run a feature on the Thieman tractor. I’m almost positive they came from Albert City, Iowa, as a kit. I had one of the first ones and what a wonderful tractor in its day. It had one 600-16 tire in the front and skeleton wheels in the back, even a mounted two-row horse cultivator that worked fine. I can’t give much information about it except it was made from a Model A Ford. The second series tractor had rubber tires on the back and was somewhat streamlined.

– Howard McNitt 1741 Raspberry Road Pine City, MN 55063 (320) 358-4530

Fanning discussion flames

I saw pictures of a fanning mill in the December issue of Farm Collector on page 5.

I recently purchased a fanning mill that looks identical to the one pictured. Mine does not have any markings, model numbers, plates or brand names. Should any one find any information on this unique piece, please share the information with me because I may not see it in Farm Collector. I contacted Scott Rose, but he has since sold his mill and has no more information.

– Gary Edelman R.R. 4, Box 20 Sabetha, KS 66534 (785) 284-2527 e-mail: garye@wenger.com

Editor’s note: Chamberlain shared this after his original letter was published. Thanks for all of those readers who wrote to help Mr. Chamberlain identify the fanning mill.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment