A Brief Word

| March/April 1998

Nowadays gray iron castings are not used nearly so much as formerly. Welded steel sections have replaced them in many instances. Awhile back we were glancing through a little book by Simpson Bolland, called The Iron Founder. Printed in 1892, it details most of the major processes in the practice of iron founding.

In those days the art of casting iron was already highly developed, and patternmakers were wont to display their skill with exceedingly intricate designs. A case in point is a cast iron corn planter seat from the old George W. Brown planter made at Galesburg, Illinois. This casting likely goes back to the 1880s or before, and its intricate design is indeed a marvel. While we're at it, take a look at some of the castings used in the average engine. In many instances they are a living tribute to the patternmaker's art, as well as a monument to the skills of the men in the foundry.

Make no mistake about it... foundry work was dirty, it was also strenuous, hot, and dangerous. Accidents frequently happened, and many times the consequences were tragic indeed. Yet, those durable and sometimes intricate castings remain, and sometimes we marvel at the talent of generations gone by!

Through some of our friends in Germany we received several different calendars of German collector tractors this year. Of course they're on the wall, along with several others. When comparing an American tractor of say, 1950 with a German tractor of the same vintage , one sometimes wonders who influenced whom in the design thereof. For instance, there's no doubt that the front-wheel-assist (FWA) system was being used extensively in Europe before becoming popular in the United States.

Diesel engines were very popular in Europe long before achieving dominance here. On the other hand, the modern look and the streamlined design had its strongest roots here in the U.S., starting already in the late 1930s. By comparison, European designs still sported that chunky, blocky look which seemed to be a compromise with the old and the new.

Another interesting comparison is that European collectors seem more prone to work their tractors than do most American collectors. Granted, many of the European restorations are of the highest quality, but that seems to be little deterrent when it comes to entering a tractor pull or a plowing con -test. Those of us going with ye olde Reflector to this year's H.M.T. Show in Holland will hopefully get to see some of these interesting tractors in action. From all reports we've gotten, the H. M. T. is a fantastic show with everything from tractors to engines to cars, plus lots of parts and accessories offered for sale. Time is running short, so if you plan to accompany us on our tour of Germany, Austria, and Holland, you'd best be contacting C. H. Wendel's 1998 Tour at PO Box 257, Amana, IA 52203 right away!


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