Hay Rake and Hay Press Make One Rare Pair

Unique hay rake and hay press donated to Fair Grove, Missouri, museum.

| August 2014

When 92-year-old Walter Allen, Springfield, Missouri, found two unusual pieces of early farm machinery, he made sure they ended up in the Fair Grove (Missouri) Historical and Preservation Society’s collection. His inside contact was Darrell Carter, a long-time friend and fellow member of Southwest Missouri Early Day Gas Engine & Tractor Assn. No. 16.

The Golden Farmer hay rake

The first of Walter’s finds was a wooden-wheeled hay rake that had belonged to someone on his mother’s side of the family. In an 1894 catalog for Chieftain hayrakes and tedders found in the Iowa State University Archives, I found an advertisement for an 8-1/2-foot Golden Farmer Self-Dump Sulky Rake. The rake had 20 teeth, 52-inch wheels and a cast iron seat like that on the one Walter donated. There is some difference in their trip assemblies, but they appear very nearly the same machine. The Chieftan line was manufactured in Akron, Ohio.

Darrell and several members of the Fair Grove group painstakingly removed it from a garage attic in Springfield. The mostly wooden rake (which dates to the late 1880s) was extremely dried from age and needed lots of tender loving care. The hub, spokes and felloes of one wheel were missing; the other wheel wasn’t in much better shape.

With intentions of getting the rake’s wheels rebuilt, Darrell took what parts and pieces still existed to an Amish wheelwright. His price seemed too high for the historical society’s budget, so the rake’s restoration was put on a back burner. It was shoved out of the way when other projects gained higher priority.

Over the next dozen years, the old rake collected dust until Mike Rookstool, a member of the historical society, decided last year to take it to his shop and bring it back to life. With Darrell’s help he reworked a pair of hubs they had cannibalized off of another old rake in worse shape. Mike made new felloes and spokes and fitted them into the rebuilt hubs before he, Darrell, and a wheelwright friend, Bob Fortner, heated and shrank the original iron tires onto them.

Second wind for Auto-Fedan press

Not long before the hay rake was under revitalization, Walter happened onto another great find. This time it was a horse-drawn hay press sitting out in the weeds at his father’s old farm that now belonged to a nephew. Even though it was almost too bent out of shape and rusty to recognize, Walter knew it was the one he had helped his father operate during the 1930s. He didn’t have much trouble talking his nephew into donating it to the Fair Grove Historical & Preservation Society.