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Let’s Talk Rusty Iron Results

How were trees transported to sawmills years ago?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The western expansion and industrial revolution that occurred in the U.S. during the 19th century required billions of board feet of lumber. Trees were thick in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, around the Great Lakes, in New England, and in the pine woods of the South, but how to get the heavy logs from […]

The capstan made hard work quite a bit easier

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Way back in antiquity, man himself had to provide any muscle power needed to perform useful work. This, of course, drastically limited the amount of the work that could be performed. Then, probably 50 or 60 centuries ago, faced with moving a heavy object, an enterprising individual figured out how to tie a rope from […]

Magazine column shows how dating has changed

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Not long ago I bought a bound volume of Successful Farming magazines from 1939 (the year I started first grade). Each issue contains a monthly letters column titled What do you think?, where readers sounded off about many subjects. I reckon the following exchange in the columns could be called “Love on the farm.” Starting […]

Let’s Talk Rusty Iron: Tractor rides are gaining popularity in the USA

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I think I’ve written before about the tractor rides that the British tractor enthusiasts have been keen on for a good number of years and, at least once, have wondered why such events weren’t more common on this side of “the pond,” as the Atlantic Ocean is sometimes referred to by we “colonials.” Tractor rides […]

Let’s Talk Rusty Iron: Sure sign of spring: Engine and tractor shows

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Well, Mother Nature is playing an April Fool’s Day trick on us — it’s snowing as I write this. However, it must be spring; I’ve already been to my first tractor show. Last weekend I traveled to Fort Wayne, Ind., and spent about six hours taking in the Maumee Valley Antique Steam & Gas Association […]

Automobile history can sometimes repeat itself

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I’ve often heard it said that “what goes around comes around” and “there’s nothing new under the sun.” Here’s an example of that, and, while probably not proving those rules, it certainly illustrates that such things do occur. About two months ago, I wrote about the Reeves Octoauto, a strange-looking eight-wheeled car that existed briefly […]

Livestock and machinery filled 1840s fairgrounds

Thursday, February 14, 2013

How about that Dodge Ram ad at the Super Bowl? It’s not often that the advantages and benefits of farming are placed before such a huge national audience, most of who probably think their food is manufactured by bib overall-clad dwarves in the back room of the supermarket. Did my heart good! The game was […]

His first locomotive hauled coal. Rest is history

Thursday, January 31, 2013

In 1814, George Stephenson built his first locomotive for hauling coal from the mine where he worked.

Texas shivaree brings many twists and turns

Thursday, January 17, 2013

(Thankfully) my wife and I never had the pleasure of a shivaree as newlyweds

The story of the John Deere organization

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I have a copy of General Catalog No. 200, issued in 1940 by the John Deere Plow Co. of Columbus, Ohio. The book’s index lists all the products offered by Deere at the time, starting with the Advance Endgate Seeder and ending with the Windrow Pick-Up Press. After the index is a photograph of a […]

Forward-thinking Reeves develops the Octoauto

Friday, December 28, 2012

Milton O. Reeves, of the Reeves family who once made steam traction engines and threshers, was associated with the Reeves Pulley Company in Columbus, Ind., at the end of the 19th century. There, he invented a variable speed drive that used two pulleys with sliding split sheaves, just like the ones used for the variable […]

Encore presentation shares fond farm memories

Thursday, December 20, 2012

(Author’s note: This is an “encore” presentation of this column, which was first published in 2002.) Christmas on the western Pennsylvania farm where I grew up was a big time for my sister B.G. and me. We’d pore over the Sears Christmas catalog as soon as it arrived and show Mom everything we wanted. She’d […]

Top five significant developments in ag machinery

Thursday, December 6, 2012

As promised last time, here are my five final choices for the top 10 most significant new developments in agricultural machinery during the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries. I cut it off at 1950 because there have been many, many revolutionary improvements since then in farm machines and practices. In addition to […]

Top 10 farm machinery innovations: My first five

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ever speculate about what were the most significant new developments in agricultural machinery during the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries? I was asked this some years ago and this is the list I came up with. I don’t believe any of them, with the possible exception of the cotton gin, can be […]

Looking back through pages of farm magazine

Thursday, November 8, 2012

At the end of October 70 years ago, farmers and farmers’ wives were reading the Farm Journal. It was a dark period in the Second World War; we’d lost more than 40,000 troops and the Philippine Islands, the German army was battering the gates of Stalingrad, England was rebuilding its armed forces after Dunkirk and […]

The stories behind the automobiles of yesteryear

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

One of the more interesting characters during the early days of automobiles was Floyd Clymer. In these days of “helicopter moms,” his exploits while still quite young were nothing short of astonishing. Love of cars. Floyd, the son of a country physician, was born in 1895 in Berthoud, Colo. His father, an early supporter of […]

Richard Best and the very best vehicle collection

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Two or three weeks ago I attended the Best truck show for the first time. Although the annual event could certainly qualify as the best truck show, the real reason for the name is the host’s name — Richard L. Best. I say “was” because, sadly, Richard L. Best passed away Sept. 10, just two […]

I don’t care if they aren’t cool, I love white walls

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

It was a hot night a few weeks ago and, after a supper of corn on the cob and sweet Nancy’s delicious Swiss steak, I was sitting on the front porch enjoying a slightly chilled glass of Pinot Noir and watching the traffic on Route 45. Do you know — I saw absolutely zero cars […]

Trading stamps were more than currency for some

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Anyone remember Green Stamps? Or Plaid stamps, Top Value stamps, or several other less popular ones? Trade stamps, in various denominations and amounts depending upon the amount of money spent on merchandise, were given to customers by certain merchants. Incentive Although the merchants had to pay the trading company for the stamps, they felt the […]

A lesson in belts and their importance to machines

Thursday, July 19, 2012

People sometimes ask about flat belts. A belt can be defined as being a continuous strip of some flexible material placed around two pulleys under a certain amount of tension to transmit power from one pulley to the other. This definition also describes chain, rope and V-belts, but we’ll stick to flat belts as used […]

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