Category Archives: Corn Picking

The New Idea Company (Part II): The Model 6A Cornpicker

     The New Idea Company (Part II):

The Model 6A Cornpicker

                    As published in the November/December 1998 issue of

  Belt Pulley Magazine


Brian Wayne Wells



Immediately after the Second World War in September of 1945, a tremendous pent-up demand for power farm machinery was released. After four years of deprivation, the farming public was starved for new farm machinery and buying soon outstripped the supply. This demand presented a good opportunity for all farm equipment manufacturers, pro0vided they were correctly positioned, to take advantage of that market. During the Second World War, the New Idea Company like all United States farm machinery companies found that raw materials for the production of farm machines were in the extremely short supply. As aresult, they experienced reduced sales, which meant reduced profits and consequently reduced capital. Finding itself short of cash at the end of the war, the New Idea Company struggled to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the new post-war world. To raise the necessary capital, the company management determined to sell out to the Avco Manufacturing Company in October of 1945. New Idea became a major sub-division of that new company. This strategy proved successful and New Idea exploded into another period of growth after the war. With a new infusion of capital New Idea introduced their famous trailing mower that same year in 1945. Additionally, Avco/New Idea initiated a $5,000,000 expansion and modernization of its factory facilities.

An aerial view of the New Idea Company factory works located in Cold Water, Ohio from 1940 thru 1945.


Just as in the 1920s, following the First World War, when the company experienced tremendous growth based in large part on the sales of one product—the revolutionary Model * manure Spreader—so now, following the Second World War, another period of growth was begun once again based in large part on another single farm implement—the Model 6A two-row, pull-type cornpicker. Continue reading The New Idea Company (Part II): The Model 6A Cornpicker

The New Idea Spreader Company of Coldwater, Ohio

        The New Idea Spreader Company of Coldwater, Ohio: 

(Part I)


Brian Wayne Wells

          As published in the September/October 1998 issue of

                                                   Belt Pulley Magazine



The golden age of American agriculture, from 1865 until 1921, saw a revolution in the development of labor-saving mechanical devices. Part of that revolution was the development of the manure spreader, a great improvement over spreading manure by fork from the rear of a wagon. Yet, manure spreaders of the 1890s were heavy, cumbersome farm implements. Tim Littleton, of Grayson, Kentucky, has restored an old John Deere manure spreader which was typical of the early design of manure spreaders and has exhibited it at the West Virginia Pumpkin Festival in Milton, West Virginia.
Early model manure spreaders, like the Littleton manure spreader, contained a single beater which was attached directly to the axle of the rear wheels. Therefore, the manure tended to be forked out into a swath directly behind the manure spreader with very little spreading to the sides. As a result, the manure was spread in the fields in narrow bands which tended to be too thick for good incorporation into the soil. If left in these thick bands, the manure would causing burning of the grass or crop. Consequently, following the spreading of manure, farmers would head into fields with peg-tooth drags or similar implements to smear the swaths of manure across the field. This was an extra, time consuming step to be undertaken by the farmer who was already over-worked.

Joseph Oppenheim, Inventor of the “widespread” on the rear of a manure spreader.  This was the “new idea” that provided the name for the company that Joseph founded–the New Idea Farm Equipment Company.

In the 1890s, Joseph Oppenheim, a schoolmaster in a one-room country school in the small town of Maria Stein, Ohio, through circumstances not currently know to us today, pondered this problem, and one day during recess at the school, he was struck by an idea. Every day during recess the students would form teams and play a variation of baseball, called “tom ball.” For a bat, the students used a flat paddle with a handle. The ball would be pitched to the batter who could use the paddle to hit the ball in any direction by simply striking the ball with the paddle held at the desired angle. This well-known effect of paddle and ball struck Joseph as the solution to the problem of manure spreading. He felt that a series of paddles could be attached to the rear of a manure spreader to spread manure in a wide pattern several times the width of the spreader.

A map of Ohio, showing the location of Mercer County in the state.


To test his theory, Joseph, with the help of his son B.C. Oppenheim, knocked the end out of a cigar box and built a small rotary paddle Continue reading The New Idea Spreader Company of Coldwater, Ohio