Iron Man Of The Month

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Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana Carlton Weisel conducts a tour through his ''Holy of Holies ''when my eyes finally adjusted to the illumination of this subterranean chamber, I beheld the human form of my host at the far end of a winding la
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Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana He's always a prominent fixture at the model engine table at any midwest thresher's reunion. At Wauseon, Ohio, N.T.A., Carlton Weisel (white cap, center) admires Case steam engine model made by Harry DeArman
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Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana Carlton Weisel shows me one of his fine model workshops in rear of seed store, Hilisdale, Michigan. Here Weisel is making adjustment on cutting tool. A good thing he operates only one machine at a time with
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Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana The women bartered in seeds and plants while Carlton Weisel is transfixed over Corliss Model. My wife purchases some garden varieties from the patient Cora Weisel, while hubby Carlton busies himself with his
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Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana What Carlton Weisel makes out of junk-Like Santa's Workshop-we couldn't miss the Weisel Seed Store in Hillsdale, Michigan because it was where all the engines were in the window. Fine models of vertical, hor


‘Mister, can you direct us to the whereabouts of the Weisel
Seed Store?’

‘Just follow your nose down to where all the steam engines
are stacked in the window and smoke’s pourin’ out of the
door. You can’t miss it. And if he happens to be over at the
junkyard, she’ll sack up what plants ‘n seeds you

Thus it was that we were directed down the main thoroughfare of
Hillsdale, Mich., to seek out the private haunts of one Carlton
Weisel, full time model steam engine genius and junkyard commuter,
part-time seedsman and seasonal fabricator of yule tide mistletoe,
at Christmastime.

The rows of boxed spring tomato seedlings out front, the rising
tiers of model steam engines, their pistons and fly-wheels of brass
and nickel-silver reflecting the solitary light bulb through a dark
window, the smell of feed and grain sacks wafting from within all
told us we were indeed there.

A short, heavy-jowled figure, looking more like an elf from
Santa’s workshop than ye Iron Man on the vibrating deck, came
waddling up the store aisle, lugging a heavy model of a Corliss
steam engine-which he promptly plopped down in juxtaposition
astride the seed store, counter. His eyes were utterly transfixed
upon the object of his affection, hardly knowing I had arrived,
while the womenfolk were already well into bartering bargains over
the counter in the way of garden seeds and tomato plants.

He’s the quiet, unassuming little rolypoly figure you always
see presiding over the model engine table at any mid-western steam
engine reunion, usually in cohort with Sam (Snore) Schnur of Spark
Plug famethe twain espousing the virtues of both steam and gas in
the finely-turned models they always lug along.

‘Well, look who’s here!’ exclaimed my host,
interrupting his morning worship of a beloved Corliss model long
enough to notice my roving eyes coveting the beautiful array of
horizontal and vertical, single and double-cylinder steam engine
models silhouetted, like a Santa Claus workshop, in the seed store

‘Of course, I would,’ replied I, wanting to see

‘Well, follow me,’ quoth he – leading the way back to a
crowded workshop of lathes, shapers, drill presses and grinders
with barely enough space for a well-rounded belly to crawl

‘This is my modern workshop,’ said Carlton Weisel,
making a few deft adjustments on an Atlas cutting tool while his
rump rested on the lathe bed at his rear. A mighty good shop
practice in safety I thought turning one machine off before working
at another, lest the protruding seat in those Weisel trousers
happen to get caught up with a ‘tuck in the chuck’.

‘My older workshop is back here,’ pointed out Carlton,
hoofing me farther to the rear of the Weisel Seed Store.
‘I’ve worn out all these machines long ago.’

‘Come on upstairs,’ said my host, leading me up the
crowded and creaking old staircase overflowing with fragments of
antique radio paraphernalia and numerous odd assortments all of
which I stopped short every step in my sojourn to examine in
detail. Finally making it to the second floor, my eyes fairly
bulged at the fragments of old-time Americana models of steam
threshing engines, tiny separators and diminutive stationary gas
and hot-air engines sprawled out from wall to wall before me.

‘What’s this, what’s that and where’d you get
this one?’ I kept exclaiming as my eyes took in such wonders as
would drive even a King Solomon to envy.

‘There’s more up on the third floor, pointed out my
host. ‘But it’s too crowded to get up there,’ pined he,
to me.

‘I’ll take you down into the basement,’ said Weisel,
apparently saving the best till the last.

Down another crowded stairway we crept I stumbling over object
after object and trying to examine each as together we descended
into what resembled a dark mine shaft my more surefooted host
leading confidently, placing a foot here, a foot there without
stubbing a toe as he led me down into his ‘holy of

Snapping a solitary light bulb into incadescence, as it dangled
on its lengthy cord, an indeterminate ‘symphony of shadows’
began dancing from wall to wall. As my visual orbs became
accustomed to this subterranean illumination, I beheld the human
form of my host at the far end of a winding pathway, leading
between mounds of what appeared at first like a well-planted
Japanese rock garden. But instead of flowers petunias, snapdragons,
pansies and the like less aromatic and colorful forms of such as
iron fly-wheels and pulleys, gear-boxes, truck transmissions, old
phonographs, coil springs – everything but the German Luftwaffe and
the kitchen sink-were taking shape before me. And I believe had I
lingered long enough even these could have been found.

My host smiled triumphantly, his visage glowing as a halo in the
sun from that single light bulb, while he busied himself fawning
over one of his latest acquisitions from a recent sortie to the
town junk emporium.

‘I visit the junkyards every day twice a day including
Saturdays and Sundays,’ announced my host with a gleam of
excitement in his eyes. ‘I go at eight in the mornings, and
then at one in the afternoons. There are always new thrills and
surprises every time I visit the junkyard and I usually come home
with my car trunk and seats loaded,’ said Carlton, gesturing in
a broad sweep of the arm at the vastness of his subterranean
stockpiles which keep growing and growing.

‘What a delightful sojourn what an interesting stockpile to
warm the cockles of any collector’s heart, let alone an
inveterate model craftsman,’ I exclaimed, once we had ascended
to the main floor of the Weisel seed and feed dispensing clinic.
‘You certainly do have other interests besides the mere
handling of garden seeds and pet supplies.’

‘Oh you haven’t begun to see everything,’
interjected the patient Cora Weisel, sacking up a dozen tomato
plants for my wife. ‘Carlton has stacks and piles of stuff in
other buildings and at the farm. You ought to come up some time and
see the rest of the things he has dragged in,’ said she with a
muffled sigh.

It was one of our most pleasant sorties into the never-never
land of ye Iron Men our visit with the Weisel’s which afforded
a rare insight into their daily doings without fanfare of
flag-waving and bands blaring.

To Carlton Weisel Iron Man of the Month must go much of the
credit for the well-organized and diverse model exhibits which
always enhance every midwest threshermen’s reunion, be it the
N.T.A. at Wauseon, The Darke County Threshers at Greenville, Ohio,
the meetings at Rushville and the Old Time Threshers and Sawmillers
at Fort Wayne, Indiana, as well as numerous conclaves in Michigan
and elsewhere. And, with his inevitable side-kick, Spark Plug, Sam
Schnur, tagging along, their fine model exhibits have now broadened
to even the impressive gas and tractor shows, such as Tri-State at
Portland, Indiana.

It’s always a rare pleasure, visiting one of the Weisel
model exhibits and to have him repay the visit which must always be
paid for in free coffee and a bowlful of bean soup to stoke up his

You occupy a prominent niche in our Iron Man Hall of Fame,
Carlton Weisel. And we salute you for all you’ve done to
enhance the midwest threshermen’s reunion in our age of
Vanishing Americana.

And, to the faithful Cora, we say, ‘Thanks’ for keeping
the seed store going while Carlton’s at play.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment