Salesman Sample of Horsedrawn Mower
Salesman Sample of Horsedrawn Mower

Salesman Sample of Horsedrawn Mower

To Mr. Lynn Miller:

Hello, I’m Dave Howell in Upland, California, and I just found your website the other evening.

I’m attaching some photos of a salesman’s sample of a mower that was owned by my grandfather, David Thompson Clarke, who died in 1926 from tonsilitis (penicillin wasn’t discovered until about 1944!). His sales territory was eastern Washington state. My mother was born in LaCrosse, WA and her brother was born in Garfield, WA. Their father was only 51 years old when he died. No one ever mentioned what company he worked for and the mower has no identification on it except for the numbers “206” cast on the frame. I was born in 1939 and the mower was just a toy when I was a kid. (And not a good toy because it wouldn’t cut grass.) Now it’s been stored in a cardboard box for the 50 years we’ve been in this house and I pulled it down the other day. It’s a magnificent model and I am hoping that you can look at some of the details and figure out who made it and when that model would have been for sale.

I also have some questions that I would like to discuss… Like how should I clean the mower and NOT remove the remnants of paint that are on the upper surfaces? I’m afraid that an oil like WD-40 might remove the paint. (There is a little yellow paint still showing on the main drive wheels.) The cutter bar works but has never been lubricated in my 84 years. (And you might say I shouldn’t do much cleaning at all.)

Comparing my mower to full size units shown on the internet I get the idea that mine is very old because it has no upgrades like a holder for an oil can nor a box for tools. Please let me know if you need any details… like the diameter of the drive wheels.

I found one “shoulder bolt” missing. It holds the upright hand lever used to adjust the angle of the cutter bar. I’m hoping that we can figure out how to replace that missing bolt. (At the nut end the hole is 0.130 diameter through the lever and then it reduces in diameter and has a very fine thread into the mower frame. Only a jeweler would have a thread gauge to measure such a fine thread. The same thread size may be used on some of the other tiny bolts on the model and they could be used to learn the needed thread size.)

Oh… the round dowel “prop pole” designed to hold the cutter bar when it is folded back over the mower has been broken off. It used to be there when I was a kid and I don’t what happened to it. The cast iron holder for it still has the broken off end showing and the piece of dowel will be easy to replace. I just need the length to make it.

Salesman Sample of Horsedrawn Mower

I would like to discuss my mower … with you. I showed it to a friend who is about 86 and he got excited… “My grandfather had a horse drawn mower just [basically] like this. He had to stop it every now and then to let the horses cool down.” “Why?” I asked. “Oh, he ran the mower so fast through the field… the horses were really working!” He kept saying that he thought my mower was really an early design and I said I thought the later models had covers over the drive chain.

I know nothing about farming. I’m an aerospace engineer by training who bought the family aluminum foundry and ran it for 46 years. But I’ve been looking at rusty mowers for years every time I find one. (And grandfather David Clarke’s mother was Mary McCormick, by the way, and there’s reason to believe that she was related to the farm implement company before they all melted together into the International Harvester Company.)

Kema was very helpful when I called and ordered your book on Mowing Machines. Now maybe I can learn the right names for all the bits and pieces that make up the mower.

Sincere thanks,
Dave Howell
Upland, CA

Dear Folks,

I am interested in helping you to identify your unique and superb working salesman model of a horsedrawn mower. And I feel there is a chance, among our readership that someone might step right up and tell us which make and model it is. My first look at your pictures leads me to believe you do have a very early, chain-drive McCormick Deering mower from well before 1900. That said, it may also be one of many other makes.

These salesman samples were works of art in their own right allowing that potential vendors could see first hand the machine and its function. Typically all the pieces were handmade to scale and the colors were the same as the full scale units. Our archives of literature on early farm implements is so vast that I do not have time before publication to search them for verification. I will do soon. Thank you. LRM