Hello from Hazard!
We heard from several readers who identified Item No. 1108, submitted by Lowell Reed, of Cowansville, Pennsylvania. It’s a wagon brake known as a brake shoe or drag shoe, or, as Reed calls it, a ruggle.
This cast iron shoe is attached by a chain in front of the rear wheel of a horse-drawn wagon. When going downhill with a heavy load, it is dropped in front of the rear wheel so the wheel runs on it, causing the wheel to slide to slow the wagon so it does not run up onto the horses.
Our thanks to Eli Miller, of Mesopotamia, Ohio; Richard Bader, of Middletown, N.Y.; Aaron Hanna, Ona, W.Va.; Ervin Schlabach, Smicksburg, Pa.; Bob Hendershot, Lore City, Ohio; Jim Hudkins, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio; and Gary Gallion, of Millersburg, Ohio, who all knew how this item was used.
Hudkins included two illustrations of the item also used with horse-drawn artillery. In addition to acting as a brake going downhill, the shoe was also used to ease recoil during combat, he writes.
Gallion adds that during a three-week carriage trip through Europe, he and his wife saw a brake shoe used on a very steep grade.
“The distance was about 2 miles travel. A brake shoe, which had a 3-by-6 inch oak board, was placed on the right rear wheel. The groom (assistant coachman) walked along side the coach and would toss sand in front of the shoe when the coachman yelled ‘Sand,’ or ‘More Sand’ as needed.
“The coachman was holding six horses back, and getting assistance from me sitting behind him pulling the brake, which would help slow the left rear wheel. The coach weight was 6,000 pounds, and so it was very important for everyone to listen to the coachman’s orders.
“To add some excitement to the descent, we had to change the oak board out, as the first one was worn completely through halfway down the grade.”
Gallion adds, “There is an old saying in coaching, ‘The horses work and sweat going uphill, and the coachman works and sweats going downhill.’”
Thanks, Gary, for sharing your experience! Your words made it seem like we were right there, too!
We also just heard from Charles Schaefer, who concurred that Item No. 1107 is a produce grader. Specifically, he says it’s a potato sorter.
Our next item, Item No. 1109, comes from James Gnagy, of North Canton, Ohio, who stopped by our office in Salem with some Hazard-ous items. It was in his father’s things and Gnagy would like to know its exact use.
It’s got some markings on it, but we’ll save that in case you all get stuck and need a hint.
Email us at email@example.com; or respond by mail to: Hazard a Guess, c/o Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.
STAY INFORMED. SIGN UP!
Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!