1939 New Idea Manure Spreader Restoration

Iowa man restores his father's horse-drawn New Idea manure spreader

| October 2010

  • Louis and Deloris Klemm
    Louis and Deloris Klemm
  • New Idea manure spreader
    A 1939 Model 10 New Idea manure spreader restored by Louis Klemm. "It was dad’s first spreader," Louis says. "He always used it with a team of horses. I started farming in 1963, and we used it until about 1970."
  • Bob Folk's spreader
    Bob Folk's spreader has the optional tractor lever attachment. When Bob bought the piece, it came with the original sales brochure from Barnett Implement.
  • Restoration
    Louis' New Idea spreader restoration started out as a bare bones project. At back: The Model 10 before restoration. "When the guy at the machine shop saw it, he said, 'You’ve got your work cut out for you,'" Louis recalls. The spreader in the foreground is a parts donor that he bought at auction.
  • The New Idea Co., based in Coldwater, Ohio, was a leading early manufacturer of manure spreaders. The company built its first spreader in 1899.
    The New Idea Co., based in Coldwater, Ohio, was a leading early manufacturer of manure spreaders. The company built its first spreader in 1899.
  • The working end of the Model E spreader.
    The working end of the Model E spreader.

  • Louis and Deloris Klemm
  • New Idea manure spreader
  • Bob Folk's spreader
  • Restoration
  • The New Idea Co., based in Coldwater, Ohio, was a leading early manufacturer of manure spreaders. The company built its first spreader in 1899.
  • The working end of the Model E spreader.

Louis Klemm's earliest memories of his father's manure spreader are not exactly affectionate. "We used it when we picked corn in the fall for the hogs," he says. "I was maybe 6 or 7. Spiders – those big black-and-yellow ones, we used to call them banana spiders – would hit me in the face as I walked through the field. Every day after school in the fall, dad would come get us and we hand-husked corn. And every Saturday we hauled manure."

But time has a funny way of changing perspectives. Today, that spreader sits at center stage of a collection of family pieces Louis has carefully, meticulously preserved. "I just made up my mind I was going to restore it," he says. "People would say they couldn't figure out why I'd want to fool with a manure spreader. But it's a family piece, and that made it important."

The horse-drawn New Idea Model 10 was built in 1939. Louis' dad bought it new from a dealer in Newton, Iowa, paying perhaps $200-300 ($3,139.25-4,708.88 in today's terms). That same year he spent $900 on an Allis-Chalmers WC with a plow and cultivator – substantial purchases in the years between the Great Depression and World War II. "You'd have to be thinking things were going to be good," Louis muses.

Restored over the course of two years, the spreader was not a complex project, but it was comprehensive. Long exposed to the elements, the rig was nearly a basket case when Louis rolled up his sleeves. "I took it all apart," he says. "The guy at the machine shop ground the heads off of all the rivets and punched them out. Replacing 230 bolts took a long time. I kept going back to the hardware store to buy bolts."



He used the wire brush on his drill to clean metal parts and built a new box of No. 1 pine (complete with routed edges). Missing parts, decal placement and lettering came from a donor spreader he bought at an auction. "I got to the auction at 7 a.m. and waited 12 hours for that spreader to sell," he recalls. "I'd told my wife I wouldn't give more than $800 for it, but I ended up spending double that. But I don't drink, I don't smoke and I don't go bowling, so I just decided I'd fix up dad's spreader."

Getting the floor and sides to line up proved the biggest challenge. "You couldn't put the sides on and then the floor," Louis says. "It wouldn't work." For the lettering, he used tracing paper to copy lettering from the donor spreader, transferring the template to the panels that would make up the new box. He then painted the lettering by hand, resting the panels on sawhorses so the paint wouldn't run. "I'm hell for punishment," he says with a smile.



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