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Horse-Drawn Mower Collection Spans The Ages
Lowell Grave collects horse-drawn mowers like most people eat caramel corn: once he started he couldn’t stop. “When I bought the first one I never imagined I’d have more than 100 after 20 years. It’s been interesting because I’ve not only learned a great deal about the mowers themselves, but I’ve met a lot of great people, too.”
    Grave began collecting in the late 1990’s after restoring a one-horse McCormick mower that his dad used on the family farm. He exhibited it at a threshing show that day and got to wondering how many different mowers were made “back in the day.” Within a few months he’d found out there were well over 100 brands made from the 1850’s forward into the early 1900’s. Now his collection includes rare names like Adriance, Dain, Milwaukee, David Bradley and many more. Some carry the trademark name cast in the mower seat, others have it embossed on the steel frame and still others have a steel plate attached to the frame.
    Grave says all the mowers in his collection were pulled by one horse or a pair, and the driver may have walked behind the machine or ridden on a seat. They were different sizes, colors, weight and had different size wheels. Some had closed gears, others open gears, some had a vertical lift and others were non-vertical. Standard components included a cutting sickle, knife guards, a grass board, lifting springs and a pittman drive.
    Grave says one of the oldest pieces in his collection was built by the W.A. Wood Mowing and Reaping Machine company in New York in 1875 or 1876. The mower is distinguished by its enclosed gearing designed to prolong machine life. Some mowers Grave has purchased in the tri-state area, others have come from farther east. He purchased several from a retiring farmer near Rock Rapids, Iowa, including a rare Milwaukee chain-driven mower and the Adriance.
    Grave enjoys providing the history of several models, including when, where and how long they were built and how the names changed based on who the owners merged or partnered with. His Dain mower was built in Ottumwa, Iowa and that company eventually was purchased by Deere.
    Each mower in Grave’s collection is meticulously restored and, thanks to a neighbor who enjoys painting, carries shiny colors of red, yellow, green, gray, white or whatever color the original manufacturer specified. One of the most recent machines in his collection is a mower on rubber tires, given to him as a surprise Christmas gift from his grandchildren. His old machine collection also includes vintage corn shellers, plows and manure spreaders.
    Grave says with enthusiasm, “I’ve enjoyed every minute of this and hope to keep at it for the forseeable future.”
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Lowell Grave, 46182 265th Street, Hartford, S. Dak. 57033 (ph 605 526-3459).

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2017 - Volume #41, Issue #1