Restoring an Auction Find: Antique Corn Planter Almost Stumps Restorer

A unique find at a country store auction leaves one restorer with an unusual, antique corn planter to piece together.

| January 2015

About 15 years ago, I went to an auction of the remains of a true country store and family goods some 20 miles north of Santa Claus, Indiana. Yes, Santa Claus (and Christmas Lake Village) is a true place but part of another totally different story.

As with any typical country store from around the turn of the 20th century, this one had a huge collection of items that had fallen into disrepair. Today, many would simply call it junk.

The day of the auction was cloudy and rainy. We stood around with the auctioneer, going through a huge assortment of items displayed in an adjacent field. The mud finally got too deep to tolerate. When the auctioneer suspended the auction, people were doing anything to keep out of the mud. I noticed that the man next to me had managed to stay relatively dry by standing on something in the mud. The object was so far gone it could not even be recognized in the mud. I asked the auctioneer about it and he hollered out to me, “Do I hear five?” “What the hell,” I said. “Get it out of here while you can still recognize it,” the auctioneer said.

Made by Evans Manufacturing Co.

The good part was that I did not have to do a lot of research to identify the manufacturer of my treasure, a single-row horse-drawn corn planter. In what looked to be part of a seed box, the end casting clearly indicated the piece was built by Evans Manufacturing Co., Springfield, Ohio. The bigger problem was what to do with the large pile of wooden and iron pieces. This planter was nothing like I had ever seen. It appeared there had once been a large wooden wishbone-shaped frame for the main planter deck. It was so badly rotted that I started to wire pieces together to see what it could possibly have looked like.

I was truly amazed when the outline of that frame actually started to come together. Next came the seed box with the corn disc and lower drive pinion gear. The seed distributor was very strange, in that it was made of a mix of cast iron and sheet metal parts. The base (as well as the front and back of the box) was made of cast iron but the sides and lid were of sheet metal. Not only that, but the box was trapezoidal in shape.

Once I figured out how the box came together I started on the drivetrain with the shaft that ran from the large furrow-closing wheel to the base of the seed distributor. That fell into place and then the bearings for the main wheel followed. Next were the clutch and linkage, which turned out to be quite simple. Adding typical plow handles and a support for the clutch handle was relatively easy.