REFLECTIONS

A Brief Word


| December/January 1996



Unidentified Engine

31/12/3A

P. T. Rathbone

One might ask where the year has gone, but here it is ... the last issue of Volume 31, and the last issue for 1996. For this writer it's been a very busy and a very eventful year. Topping this was our three weeks in England, Scotland, and Wales. Over the year we've come to enjoy England immensely, and this year's journey certainly came up to every expectation and more besides.  There was a wonderful week at the Royce Longland's and with Ron Knight over in Lincolnshire while we leisurely explored the backroads and the tiny villages that barely make it onto a map. During our journey we helped Mr. & Mrs. Art Gaier celebrate their wedding anniversary and along the way there were various other anniversaries and birthdays to be celebrated. One of our most memorable stops was when we went to John Caldwell's place near Kilmamock, Scotland. Along with a sizable display of some very nice engines and tractors, the Ayrshire Vintage Engine Club put on a banquet that will seldom be equalled and never rivaled!

Ye Olde Reflector came out with a new Third Edition of our Wendel's Notebook replete with much added information, including tractor serial numbers. To our great delight, we've sold thousands of these over the past year, and in fact, we have to reprint it again. We were also very fortunate in forging an alliance with Krause Publications at Iola, Wisconsin. Last August our first book with Krause, entitled Unusual Vintage Tractors appeared. We're quite proud of this one, and have just recently signed a contract to do an Encyclopedia of American Farm Machinery with them. With some luck, it will be on the market about a year from now.

Having set up our own offset equipment, in addition to our letterpress shop, we're now planning to do several titles entirely in-house, as we did with our Notebook. It's one way we can keep the costs down, and believe us when we tell you that between paper, ink, plates, negatives, rollers, chemicals, and miscellaneous printing paraphernalia, this printing of books is a downright expensive process. Oh, and then there's the epitome of drudgery, gathering or collating all those sheets that make up the book. Stitching and trimming aren't so boring, but assembly is a mindless task that takes a lot of time.

Living here in Iowa's Amana Colonies is truly a delight. For example, our next door neighbor was talking the other day about how they hauled dirt in the old days on a simple wagon running gear. Before he could tell me how it was done in the Amanas, I jumped the gun and told him they probably did it with some planks laid across the running gear. Loose planks on the sides permitted a bigger load. On arriving at the destination, it was just a matter of a couple guys upsetting the planks laden with dirt. Later, we both commented about this method not being found in the usual textbooks of the day.

We think the above example is typical of many different things around the farm. Some were just handed across from one generation to another or from neighbor to neighbor. How about the various methods to tighten a gas engine into the belt as on a corn sheller or a wood saw, or methods of lagging pulleys? For those unfamiliar with pulley lagging, especially in the days of leather belts, it was considered desirable to lag or cover the pulleys with leather stretched tightly around and riveted into place. How many people know how to lace a belt using rawhide laces?

While in England last summer we saw a fellow demonstrating on a pole lathe, such as you see in a few old history books. He was turning out simple garden tools and the like, but doing so with great speed. In visiting with him we discovered that this man and a few others banded together in recent years to preserve the art.