The Mystery of the Rusty Broken Thingamajig
September 5, 2012 7:26 AM   Subscribe

What the crazy heck is this rusty antique yard implement a friend found under their house?

They recovered it while poking around in the crawlspaces beneath the house. It's the size of a classic pushmower (app. 3.5-4 feet tall), with a set of handles at one end of the body. They may have had wrappings or wooden grips at one point, but now it's just raw metal posts. The head of this thing is a bizarre arrangement of gears - nine gears running in a row left to right, and then on what we imagine is the front, another set of 18 or so gears set perpendicular to the row of nine.

I'm guessing it's some sort of tiller/seeder/aerator, and also that it's missing some other part of the head or body that would connect up. The teeth on the gears seem way too small for them to be designed to go straight in the dirt - it'd just jam up completely. Also, on the side of the head where the axle is held in place is a divot, which seems like where another part of the head/body might have possibly locked into place. Unfortunately I didn't find any stamps or maker's marks or serial numbers on it, else this search would be a lot easier.

Anyone got any ideas? Half of a yard device? Ancient navigational tool? Children of the Corn ritual sacrifice device?
posted by FatherDagon to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Looks like a tiller/seeder/aerator to me too.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:28 AM on September 5, 2012

Response by poster: Here's an additional pic from their set showing all the other yard tools they found down there, along with The Object Of Mystery. They're all obvious in their construction, and I agree that tiller/etc is the most likely answer as to what this used to be - I was hoping for a more specific lead like 'oh, that looks like an old RonCo Dirt Gremlin, it was used to make sure all your dirt was combed in the right direction! Here's a pic of one that's not rusted to bits and broken'.
posted by FatherDagon at 7:41 AM on September 5, 2012

... some form of broadcast spreader.

Check the underside for some form of logo- sometimes you'll find one, particularly on old cast-iron implements. (If only the gears are iron, you can see if you can move some of them around and find a logo- most of the big companies included some form of mark on their tools).

Anything designed to till or aerate would have some way of digging into the soil- this tool looks like it'll draw something down (likely from some receptacle attached along the handles) and spread it out. (Note that none of the gears are oriented towards the soil, and their relatively small size- it's going to be doing something above the soil line).
posted by Cracky at 8:00 AM on September 5, 2012

Best answer: It looks a lot like this 1923 Monta Mower - if that's not it, I bet someone at that website could help you.
posted by she's not there at 8:02 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's an old cultivator. The parallel gears cut furrows into the soil, the rear ones mixed up the soil that the first gears had just raised. It really is the Victorian equivalent of the Garden Weasel.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:02 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

A thatcher, perhaps: to break up matted/thatched growth? Or, as cracky suggests, an aerator of some sort, but I'd kinda expect that to have longer prongs....
posted by easily confused at 8:15 AM on September 5, 2012

Rather than the above link, try googling images of "monta mower" - better pictures and multiple angles.
posted by she's not there at 8:21 AM on September 5, 2012

Response by poster: Monta Mower it is - checking pics of those shows something nigh-identical, and in the side shot of the rusty one, you can actually see a bit of blue paint remnants. Good Job, Internet Detectives! I didn't think mower at first because the push-mower that comes to mind initially is one of the wheeled ones with the curvy blades. Here's someone elses, with scans of ads and pamphlets as well. Nice!
posted by FatherDagon at 8:34 AM on September 5, 2012

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