Remembering yesteryear farm tools


Tool collectors are quite curious concerning why a particular tool or equipment was made. Here are some answers.

Spanners are an example that younger collectors do not know about. Spanners are wrenches with open or closed ends. The opening is usually a square and of various sizes. This tool was made for use on plows, reapers, hay mowers or other farm equipment.

Similar to Ford tools, they were issued at the time of equipment sales. A few had the manufacturers name or logo on them, but most are unmarked.

Their shape is either straight, but the majority are shaped like a shallow S. This bend added to the leverage required to fasten or unfasten a rusty square nut or bolt head.

A few spanners show the results of hammering on the end or a broken slot.

Seeders. Seeders are found around old buildings or barns. The first may have been the seed fiddler.

Seed was placed in the sack like a holder. This seed then dropped into a revolving spinner, which had dividers to help eliminate jamming. To operate the spinner that distributed the seed into the field, a rod worked with a spindle device.

The back and forth of the rod, which gave the seeder its name, cast the seed away from the sower. Other seeders continued spinning and a bent wire handle was turned to operate the device in seed casting.

This is often seen in museums that show farm implements.

Another device. The chaff horse was a simple device used to cut cornstalks to a desired length for feeding livestock. The metal parts were few.

The knife was shaped like a straight blade from an old sythe. The blade operated in a slashing motion. It looked like a paper cutter, but with an open box on top where the corn stalks were placed and fed slowly through the blade cutting edge.

Advanced types had a treadle foot operation, allowing both hands to be used. Careless operation could cut off a finger or two.

A few operators used a pushing fork to feed the stalks through the box. This fork had a short handle and a set of three or four long teeth to assist the stalk passage.

Corn sheller. A corn sheller was one device I liked to operate. On the top was a small shoot to feed the corn into and a turning wheel operated ground gears below the feed section. Out came the shelled corn at the end, and down fell the clean cobs below.

This saved hands from getting sore from shelling by hand.

Everyone that came from the farm or had relatives residing on one remembers the hand pumps of the yard or kitchen. Our ancestors, whether they are like mine and arrived in North America in the 1600s or are newer citizens, invariably were farmers of one phase or another.

Salem pumps. Yard pumps were manufactured at Demings in Salem, Ohio, prior to World War II. These pumps were quite simple in makeup and operation as long as the leather sucker was not too worn. This part received its name from its use.

With the pitcher pump, the domestic chores were transferred to a form of luxury – running water in the houses. The bothersome chore of going outside whether rain, snow, sleet or hot weather to pump a bucket was replaced by water drawing.

The irksome job of unfreezing or priming the old yard pump was changed to just priming the pitcher pump in the kitchen. Drawing water was my job from fourth grade through 12th grade.

These tools, plus one-man cross cut saws, sledges and wedges, I remember well. All these items were part of my yesteryears.


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