A Brief Word

| May/June 1998

Recently we came across some articles from the late 1950s wherein the subject of 540 vs. 1000 rpm pto shafts was being discussed, or rather, being argued about. Engineers were talking about the changeover already in the 1940s, but little was done. Then in 1949, IH and Deere were both having problems with pto shaft failures ... of all things on hay balers. (IH and Deere weren't alone; almost everyone was having problems of some sort, but particularly with the hay baler). By the 1940s the little 1? pto shaft was being replaced with the 1? style. However, this too was experiencing problems by the 1950s, and engineers were recommending a 1 inch output shaft.

As we all know, the problem finally resolved itself. Contrary to the wishes of agricultural engineers, 1000 rpm shafts were not adopted universally . . . there were just too many 540 rpm machines in the field. Thus came some novel devices. Some, such as the Deutz in particular, simply used a lever on the floorboard to select 540 or 1000 rpm at the pto shaft. Other methods included shifting the output shaft from one hole in the rear end to the other. Adopting universal standards is truly a difficult thing to do ... it took thirty years just to standardize the drawbar height and other critical dimensions.

Does anyone remember the Pope Automatic Tying Attachment for the Case NCM hay balers? By 1954 Pope had converted some 25,000 Case NCM balers to automatic tying machines. In addition the company also offered the Case NCM as a factory re-engineered and re-designed baler. This device was made by Pope Automatic Attachment Corporation, Greenfield, Indiana.

In 1948 Reo Motors Inc., of Lansing, Michigan announced their new Reo l HP slant cylinder engine, designed especially for lawn mower use. Reo claimed their new design would run at least 100 degrees cooler than comparable engines, and indeed, Reo sold these little engines by the thousands. Surprisingly though, the Reo engines aren't seen very often at the shows. We're feverishly working on our Standard Catalog of Tractors, and have discovered a host of small garden tractors built in the decade following World War Two. The greatest flurry of activity seems to have been in the 1948-1952 period, when literally dozens of companies entered the garden tractor business. By 1955 the majority of these would-be entrepreneurs had already left the scene. It is our observation that many of these companies failed, not because they had an inferior product, but because they were undercapitalized, had no marketing plan and no distribution system. In a sentence, they were long on ideas and short on implementation thereof.

If we can put together a group of at least 30-40 people, we'll consider going to Australia again for their National Rally in 1999. More about this later. Also, we're considering a plan whereby we might begin a tour at Chicago, stopping off at their Museum of Science & Industry, then going off toward Ohio, and on to the Coolspring Show in June. Then we would do various things along the eastern seaboard, finally taking a ferry up to Nova Scotia, back toward Ontario, and work our way toward Greenfield Village at Dearborn, Michigan. Then back to Chicago, and all this in about two weeks. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions, kindly communicate them to ye olde Reflector in the next few weeks.

One of our best research tools is the Farm Implement News Buyer's Guide that was published almost every year between 1888 and 1958. We have a few of these, and have found them invaluable, but we surely would like to find more of these as our research continues. If anyone knows of any, please contact ye olde Reflector here at GEM. We've got quite a few inquiries this month, beginning with: