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Iron Age Ads: Speed-Changing Pulley Has Big Impact

Early farm equipment was notoriously dangerous and cantankerous. As a result, little was dearer to the farmer’s heart than safe, efficient farm equipment.

| April 2020


Early farm equipment was notoriously dangerous and cantankerous. As a result, little was dearer to the farmer’s heart than safe, efficient farm equipment. Wooden separators, for instance, routinely burned in the field, for no other reason than being too close to fire-vulnerable straw stacks. The advent of the speed-changing pulley eliminated much of that risk, making it possible to put a bit of distance between the separator and the straw stack.

When the speed-changing pulley came on the scene at the turn of the last century, it represented a major technological advancement, and one that continues to play an important role in machinery of all types more than 100 years later. The speed-changing pulley acted much like an automatic transmission, allowing operation of equipment and implements at a faster rpm without having to make a corresponding adjustment to the power source’s rpm. Speed-changing pulleys are a common component in today’s snowmobiles and ATVs, and until quite recently, combines.

In the ad shown here (from the March 1902 issue of The American Thresherman), the Speed Changing Pulley Co., Indianapolis, Indiana, offered farmers a simple component said to save labor, increase capacity, prevent accidents and generate profits. All that, and it was easy to use too: The device could be operated from the engineer’s platform. FC

Advertisements from many farm publications printed at the turn of the 20th century were more than mere methods to hawk tractors and farm equipment. To share those ads from days gone by, Farm Collector periodically reproduces some of the most spectacular ads used to promote farm equipment and products.

To submit a vintage advertisement for possible publication, send it to: Iron Age Ads, Farm Collector, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609; or submit high-quality digital images by e-mail:


Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

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