Swailes Rd., P. 0. Box 400 Troy, Ohio 45373
As veteran subscribers to your magazine my brother Clem, and I, are amazed by the articles in two of your recent issues presenting power log splitters as something of novelty and originality. As a matter of fact power log splitters of varying crudeness and utility have been built and used for many years. However the era of the modern hydraulic log splitter had its beginning when, in 1959, I personally designed and patented the Lickity Log Splitter during the thirty-fifth year of my service as Head of the Waco Aircraft Company of Troy, Ohio. Thousands of these machines are now in the hands of enthusiastic owners from six years of production by my company and a similar period by Piqua Engineering Co. of Piqua, Ohio, which acquired the business after I retired, and entered into a royalty license agreement with me.
My patents cover such features as an inner and outer cylinder giving two speeds with inversely corresponding forces, and employing automatic shifting to supply the varying force required in log splitting. The wheels are also retracted by the log splitting cylinder. I introduced the stationary wedge and moving platen, although my wedge is shiftable on the frame to accommodate logs of various lengths. My aircraft engineering background taught me to employ properly heat treated alloy steels in the design of this machine, with the result that a machine weighing slightly over 500 lbs. is capable of a 36,000 lb. force if you can find a log that will require it. I will enclose a piece of sales literature for your information, and would be pleased to furnish glossy photos if you are interested. However, 1 assume that you would not accept an ad from one whose interest is confined to patent royalties.
At around the turn of the century our father sold Advance threshing machinery along with hardware and farm implements in Buffalo County, Nebraska, and in 1907 moved the family to Battle Creek, Michigan, and worked in the production of both engines and separators. As boys we roamed the plants of both Advance and Nichols & Shepard and took an interest in the methods of manufacturing every part, as well as the assembly process. At an early age Clem studied internal combustion engines and qualified as a testing operator on the first gas tractor Nichols & Shepard ever built. My own interest shifted to airplanes and by 1917 I was foreman of an assembly department at the Curtiss Buffalo plant where the famous Jenny was manufactured. By means of study and experience I and Elwood James Junkin were able to found our own aircraft manufacturing enterprise right after the First World War. It was originally known as the Advance Aircraft Company, the name being changed to Waco Aircraft Company in 1928. Elwood's father was the famed threshing machine and gas tractor designer of the early days, John C. Junkin. ll of this has little bearing on the hydraulic log splitter industry, un-less t is interesting to note that a boy-hood interest in threshing machinery manufacture developed into the successful pioneering of the personal airplane, and eventually triggered another industry which has taken the drudgery out of log splitting and perhaps saved the open fireplace from oblivion.