WHAT-IS-IT ?


| September 2002



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Mystery tools

The genius of pioneer inventors can confound us. Countless contraptions that revolutionized farming in the 19th and early 20th centuries have become contemporary curiosities, or even mysteries. Here are three sent in by readers. Do you know what they are?

July's mystery tools

A. & B. Seed corn grader and 1871 Haworth checkrow planter reel and rope owned by Harold Jehle of Baldwin City, Kan. At deadline, 11 readers had identified the grader, which separated kernels by sizes for use as seed in the old plate-type planters. The galvanized hopper was filled with shelled corn and the handle cranked slowly as the seeds dropped through the holes according to size, and into separate buckets. Seven readers identified the check-row planter reel and rope. The rope had metal 'buttons' or knots every so many inches, usually about 40 inches. The knots were pulled through a tripping mechanism on the planter that dropped seed into furrows. This device planted corn in a pattern so it could be cultivated from various directions; later versions used wire instead of rope.

C. Threshing machine cylinder wrench with tooth straightened, sent by Jim Moffet of Modesto, III. Seven readers identified the wrench, which loosened or tightened nuts holding cylinder teeth in place. The socket on the end, bottom, is reversed so one can stick the wrench down between the bars and come back up onto the nut on the bottom of the tooth. The wrench also ratchets; the spot below the socket is where the ratchet is. The top end, closest to the letter 'C,' is for straightening teeth. It slips over the tooth.