Thursday, February 21, 2008

Manure Spreader

Mechanical things of all sorts fascinate me. I was born and raised out on a farm. Although seasonal, one of my first paying jobs was working a a steam powered sugar factory. Then I spent over forty years working at a steel fabricating and manufacturing plant as a facilities Engineer, which provided me an opportunity to visit and see many other facilities all over the nation. My eyeballs were exposed to viewing all sorts of mechanical contraptions, and I loved all of them.
I was thinking I'd like to build something that used drive chain. In scale size, I was thinking of using some "ladder chain", even my old Erector Set had a piece of that. Finally I decided on a Manure spreader, a humble but very essential piece of farm equipment. After months of looking I finally located one as a decorator item in a lady's flower bed, that I could get measurements from. It was of the 1930's vintage which would been state of the art about the time I was born.

The second picture shows it well under construction. I tried to follow the construction of the original, right down to each rivet and bolt. There were lots of rivets in this model, a couple hundred of them. the whole frame was riveted together, as well as the wheel lugs and beater parts, etc. For rivets I used snipped off 19 gage wire brads, and set them with my tiny rivet press (third picture)

The picture shows the size of the press. The scrap metal there, has a trial rivet set in it. The angle Iron frame of this model varied from about 1/8" x 1/8" to 1/4" x 1/4" so setting rivets would have nearly impossible with a hammer without mashing everything. It was so easy with the press. The difficult part was that rivets had to be placed in the holes with tiny needle nose pliers, and sometimes the rivet would slip and go flying off in some unknown direction. No need to even try looking for it, just get another one.

The last picture shows the finished spreader. I found the color scheme and brand name in one of Charles Wendel's books. It has turned out to be a real fun model to show. Everyone has some kind of humorous remark to make about it. Like one fellow suggested it be loaded with cinnamon sugar and raisins when making sweet rolls, or shredded cheese when making pizza. Another suggested Bull Durham tobacco because it would look and smell like the real stuff. Another suggest corn flakes because they would be easy to vacuum off the living room floor. One fellow informed me that manure spreaders never came with a warranty. That is one machine that manufactures just would not stand behind. The list goes on and on. Perhaps you will have a comment too.

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