WHICH CAME FIRST: The Furphy or the Buffalo Pitts?

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Fowler traction engine s/c no. 8841 hauling Furphy water cart just restored by John Wolverson, May 5, 1981.
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End casting, Furphy water cart.
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End castings, Buffalo Pitts water cart.
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This was sent to us by Eisner Machacek, 714 Union St., Northfield, Minnesota 55057.

RMB 364 Beaufort 3373 Victoria, Australia

The firm of J. Furphy and Sons Ltd. operate an engineering works
at Sheppart on in Victoria, Australia. Over the past 100 plus years
they have produced a wide range of agricultural products grain
strippers, ploughs, scarifies, land graders, feed troughs, just to
mention a few.

Their most famous piece of equipment, synonymous with Australian
country life, is the ‘Furphy’ water cart. The first of
these was made between 1878 and 1880 (the exact year is not known),
and is claimed to be a complete invention of John Furphy. They are
of simple construction with cast ends surrounded by a galvanized
‘skin’ of sheet iron which is held by steel bands heated
and shrunk on, giving a water-tight fit. The ends are three feet in
diameter and the cart has a capacity of 180 gallons approximately
one ton. Either shafts for horses or hitch for tractor or traction
engine were avail-able and wrought iron or cast iron wheels were an

The end plates are of great interest as, among other things,
they advertised the firm’s products. In 1895 a short rhyme was
added to the pattern which read ‘Good, better, bestnever let it
rest till your good is better and your better best.’ In 1910 a
Pitmans’ shorthand inscription made its first appearance and
when translated told the reader that ‘Water is the gift of God,
but beer and whisky are concoctions of the devil. Come and have a
drink of water.’ Later, another inscription was added (also in
shorthand): ‘Produce and populate or perish.’

Pictured is a tractor conversion of a Model T Ford (c. 1915).Who
is 82 years old and says he remembers these well. Photo courtesy of
the Northfield News.

Recently, two oval-shaped cast ends were located by Mr. Tom
Lynch of Colas in Victoria. They appear to be of much similar
construction with iron rings sweated n the ends to hold the sheet.
The inscription ‘Buffalo Pitts Company, Buffalo, N.Y.’ has
been cast into the construction. Now, this firm exported quite a
few traction engines to Australia, the earliest recorded engine
number being 4988, the last 13300. The question is, did the Buffalo
Pitts water cart precede the Australian Furphy?

Any information on the subject would be appreciated, as would
measurements of the U. S. version. I would like to restore it to
its original, but with just two ends, where do I start?

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