At age 87, Hauko Janssen is retired, but still
farming. His operation now spans tabletops and counters in his
home, where he crafts scale model farm equipment.
Hauko farmed near his home at Trent, S.D., for most of his life.
He did custom farming, as well as custom corn shelling, using a
John Deere No. 6 truck-mounted sheller. As a boy of 6 or 7, he
drove a Fordson tractor for his father. Later he used a Farmall
Regular, and later still, he bought several Farmall 400 tractors.
“I remember when, in the 1950s, you could shell a crib of corn and
trade up to a new tractor and a new Ford car every year,” he says.
In 1959, when Gulbranson Implement went out of business, Hauko
bought the last new Farmall 560 sold in Trent. Each of these
tractors and implements has been recreated in miniature by
When Hauko moved to town in 1970, he continued to help his son,
Bob, on the farm. But he found a bit more time for tinkering. After
cutting down some Ash trees, he had Bennet Sawmill, Sioux Falls,
S.D., cut lumber. Some of that wood was used in constructing his
first small pieces: a pair of scale model wagons. One is a triple
box unit, even including a hinged endgate. The detail is
microscopic: The pull pin for the evener is really a wrench used to
take off axle nuts so that the wheel could be pulled for greasing,
just like the real one! His only concession was using plastic
wheels. The other wagon is a hayrack, like those used years ago to
move loose hay to the barn, as well as to haul bundles from the
field for threshing in the fall.
In constructing his John Deere No. 6 sheller, Hauko used common
materials in uncommon ways. For example, on the truck engine,
ballpoint pen tips became spark plugs, and 22-gauge insulated
copper wire became plug wires. Solid wood forms most of the main
engine, with exhaust headers formed from solid wire solder. Small
rods from wire cooling racks used by bakers were used to make
chrome rods, and plastic canvas used by hobbyists was trimmed to
form No. 55 and No. 65 steel chain, as well as various elevator
aprons, the drag feed apron and the cob stacker apron.
The primary tools Hauko used in crafting the sheller and the
disc were a Dremel power tool and a soldering iron. He wore out two
Dremel tools in the process.
He has an interesting, if tedious, technique for making V-belt
pulleys. The pulleys start out as tin seals in shellac or thinner
cans. The seals are ground down to the correct “V” size and the
handmade hub is soldered in, making three pieces into one.
The cob stacker features a working winch with light copper wire
for cable, raising and lowering it correctly. A pair of rods braces
the unit, reminiscent of the era when cobs were loaded into wagons
and hauled to cattle yards to fill mud holes, or loaded into a bin
for use as fuel for the kitchen stove. (Author’s note: Now we
have combines doing this job, albeit not as well as the cage
sheller and its sieves and fans did years ago. This I am sure of,
as we burn corn, and corn from an old sheller is much cleaner,
requiring no re-cleaning before use.)
Creation of the scale model John Deere 630 disc required
extensive research. Hauko made several trips to his son’s farm,
where he took measurements and photographs of a 630. Common
components again came into play. Square box tubing was made from
tiny angle irons soldered together. Disc blades were crafted from
pop can bottoms that were cut, drilled and placed on a small bolt,
and then turned on a bench grinder. On rear gangs, a smaller disc
is used on the ends, just as on a real unit. The real challenge on
this piece, Hauko says, was getting the linkages right so that the
unit would lift up level.
The hydraulic cylinders were made from small copper tubing, with
parts from “rabbit ear” antennas for the rams. Truss rods were made
from light wire, soldered into holes drilled in end plates.
Ballpoint pen ends were again transformed into hose ends, with
22-gauge wire used for hydraulic hoses. Just as on the real unit,
both gangs fold up for transport. As to the drag mounted on the
rear of the disc, “teeth” were produced by wrapping light wire
around a nail. Each one was then soldered into position on each
The projects were truly labors of love: Hauko figures he spent a
couple of years on each the disc and the sheller, with some 500
pieces involved in the disc alone.
– For more information: Jim Lacey is an antique farm
equipment enthusiast and collector in South Dakota. Tours of his
museum, Little Village Farm at Trent, S.D., are available by chance
or appointment from April through October. Call (605)