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Wanted gadgets, gizmos & contraptions.

The genius of pioneer inventors can confound us. Countless contraptions that revolutionized farming in the 19th and early 20th centuries have become contemporary curiosities, or even mysteries. Here are four sent in by readers. Do you know what they are?



A. Manufactured by Peerless Chatillon, patented Nov. 30, 1915. When opened, measures about 24 inches.

B. Powered by tractor or stationary engine. Measures about 3 feet tall and 4 feet long. Hand-built with a conveyor belt, spiked roller and fan with four paddles.


D. No markings. Device measures 8 feet long by 42 inches wide.

Answers to this month's items will appear in the August issue.




A. Fluting machine, as identified by Leonard Keifer, Gaithersburg, Md.; Larry Peterson, Stacy, Minn.; Rudy Miller, Wortham, Texas; Ralph Najarian, Manhattan, Kan.; Wayne Newson, Emyvale, Prince Edward Island, Canada; Gailey Henderson, Williamstown, W.Va.; Coles Roberts, Southampton, N.J.; and George Wanamaker, Macomb, Ill.

The fluting machine was used to put pleats and ruffles in garments such as petticoats, blouses and collars. In use, heated irons were inserted into the hollow rollers. The heat helped "set" the pleat. Ralph Najarian suggested an alternate use. "I myself have no use for pleated garments," he writes. "However, the device might be of sufficiently heavy construction to be used for juicing such things as rhubarb." Editor's note: Be sure to clean all the rhubarb off before you next use the device on petticoats!

Several readers thought this piece was a stovepipe crimper. However, the soft brass rods on this device would not hold up well in that application and would likely become distorted. Also, the rods are quite a bit longer than the rods in a crimper. For more on stovepipe crimpers, including a patent illustration, see It's All Trew, page 35 in this issue. See Patent 169,327 for a similar piece. Photo submitted by David Dietrich, Saginaw, Mich.


B. A tool to put aluminum armor rod on aluminum power line wire, as identified by David E. Olson, Holdrege, Neb.; Galen Einspahr, North Platte, Neb.; Vernon Emery, Ekalaka, Mont.; Jerry Jacobs, Chisago City, Minn.; and David L. Ferris, Mechanicville, N.Y.


"The tool was used in installing armor rod, a set of straight, smooth aluminum rods that were installed by twisting them around aluminum conductor steel reinforced, centering them over the porcelain or glass insulators on overhead power lines before tying or clamping to the insulator," says Vernon Emery, a 40-year veteran of rural electric service work. "Armor rods were secured to the conductor by small aluminum U-bolt clamps. Armor rod protected the conductor from chaffing over the insulator and retarded vibration of the conductor. Early armor rod was replaced with alloy preformed armor rods that were 'rolled' onto the conductor and required no clips for retention. Labor costs were reduced considerably by using preformed rods. The size and number of armor rods were determined by the size of the conductor being protected. The extra inserts were for different size conductor and were usually marked appropriately. I removed far more of the clip-type rods than I installed!" Photo submitted by Jake Ferrari, Newry, Pa.


C We were unable to make positive identification of this piece, which may be a fleshing knife (used to remove flesh from the inside of a recently slaughtered bovine hide), which is what Jim Glascock, Cedar Grove, Ind., guessed. However, those typically have two handles. Photo submitted by Paul Asselstine, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.


D. Fleam, as identified by Leonard Keifer; Steven Mead, Kearney, Neb.; Rudy Miller; David Friedly, Blairsville, Ga.; Bob Wittersheim, Carleton, Mich.; Ralph Najarian; Wayne Newson; Larry Whitesell, Tipton, Ind.; Frank Olmstead, Gerry, N.Y.; Roger Ladwig, Green Lake, Wis.; Coles Roberts; Sheldon Malmedal, Linton, N.D.; Gailey Henderson; Michael Moriarty, Sandy Ridge, Pa.; George Wanamaker; and Jim Glascock.

Fleams were most typically used by veterinarians in early bloodletting treatments. A related instrument, the thumb lancet, was used in treatment of human patients. Photo submitted by Donald E. Leather, Hagerstown, Md.



We were unable to identify this piece, which was introduced in the March 2010 issue of Farm Collector as Item D. In the May 2010 issue, a reader speculated that it might be a generator. However, steam engine enthusiast Gary Yaeger says the piece is a small portion of a Swift lubricator for a steam engine.

To submit photos:

Send prints to Farm Collector, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. Send digital images to:

* Photos should be taken in a well-lit area against a plain background. Include dimensions and any markings on the piece. We cannot guarantee every photo will be published, nor can we respond to inquiries regarding when photos will be published. No photos will be returned.

* Digital photos should be sent as .jpgs at a minimum of 300 dpi.

To identify an item:

Send answers (with your name and address) to Farm Collector, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. E-mail responses may be sent to
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Title Annotation:WHAT-IS-IT?
Publication:Farm Collector
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2010
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