Dragged into Collecting


| August 2001



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the reins as his four-mule team

Tim Osborne bought a horse-drawn potato digger for $20 a year ago and then spent six months restoring it.

'It was made by the Hoover Company in Ohio somewhere between 1895 and 1910,' he says. 'It took me the better part of the winter to get it running. There's not much literature for it. Nothing much was published so there's very little info on horse-drawn stuff.'

Tim, a consultant on radioactive waste disposal, lives at Keymar in rural northern Maryland. He has no farming background but got into collecting horse-drawn equipment through an involvement with draft horses and mules.

'It's interesting,' he says. 'It's a hobby. If I didn't do this I'd buy a boat or some other nonsense. You get stuff from auctions or someone offers it or there are dealers. You have to go for a while in order to get something. What you don't see is how much work it is to take a pile of rusty parts and get it to look good. I've got about two dozen pieces.' Tim's potato digger is his pride and joy with its yellow body parts, green undercarriage and orange wheels. Two big mules are needed to pull it during potato harvest time. A flat blade plows up under the potato plants sending the potatoes onto a belt, which propels them to a shaker tray. The tray removes the dirt and the potatoes fall off the back of the machine to be picked up by hand.

Another of Tim's treasures is a hay tedder from the early 1920s.

'It's made by David Bradley,' he says. 'According to the ad it 'does the work of 10 women in half the time.' You could get it from the Sears Roebuck catalog.'