Gizmos & Gadgets

Gizmos & Gadgets explored the wealth of tools and inventions that make life easier. From Grain boards to bean sorters, from barn tools to egg beaters, gadgets are a part of our lives and history.
Gizmos and Gadgest Exhibit 011Grain Board
“This was a piece of wood the grain used to go over in the old mill at Lowell, Mich. when the mill was first new and owned by William Hatch.”
This wood was a piece of the chute onto which grain dropped and rolled over day after day, year after year. It was a part of the mill on the east side of the Flat River when the mill was owned by William Hatch and later by Hatch and Craw (1856 – 1880). When John Pike remodeled the mill, he gave this board to James Hatch who was a nephew of William Hatch and the grandfather of donor, Larry Cahoon.

Gizmos and Gadgest Exhibit 012
Sprayers…
Imagine living around the turn of the century…you must grow your own vegetables to feed your family. The problem? Pesky bugs! The solution? Hand-held sprayers!
The Lowell Specialty Company began in 1905 with the idea of making money by eradicating pests. Hand-held sprayers were invented for household use and different models were developed for every need. The company grew, especially with the advent of the Nu-Day Sprayer in the 1920s. The popularity of this new design, along with the market share it commanded, led the company to be purchased by its largest competitior, the H.D. Hudson Mfg. Company.
Known as the Lowell Sprayer Company, it became the world’s largest supplier of household sprayers, producing 100, 000, 000 sprayers between 1946 and 1952! After merging with Root Mfg. Company of Ohio in 1953, Root-Lowell Mfg. continues to this day, over 100 years since its humble beginnings here in Lowell.

Gizmos and Gadgest Exhibit 013
Lowell Innovations
1932: In 1931, C. H. Runciman organized the General Bean Co. and erected a new three-story brick building next to the bean elevator in which 100 electric powered bean picking (culling) machines were installed. One hundred women were hired to operate these machines and manually pick out the bad beans. One year later, the first electric eye in the world was installed in this Lowell plant! Individual beans were picked up by an aluminum wheel and held there by a vacuum. The perfect bean, being of the same color as the wheel, permitted the same amount of light to reach the super-sensitive cell, while the discolored bean varied the amount of light and a trigger was set off which kicked out the bad bean. This sped up the culling process plus the work was done mechanically rather than with human labor.
Since then, the installation of electric eyes for sorting has been implemented by businesses all over the world to sort commodities such as wheat, rice, and even colored glass. This innovation truly revolutionized the world!
1905: The problem- pesky bugs. The Lowell Specialty Company was created in 1905 with the idea of making money by eradicating pests. Hand-held sprayers were invented for household use and different models were developed for every need. The company grew, especially with the advent of the Nu-Day Sprayer. The popularity of this new design, along with the market share it commanded, led the Lowell Specialty Company to be purchased by its largest competitor, the H. D. Hudson Mfg. Company. Known as the Lowell Sprayer company, the company continued to thrive. As noted in a 1920’s publication, “the future of the Lowell Sprayer Company is unusually bright.”
The Lowell Sprayer Company became the world’s largest supplier of household sprayers, making 100,000,000 sprayers between 1946 and 1952.
The company prospered and in 1953 merged with the Root Manufacturing Company of Ohio. The new company, known as Root-Lowell Manufacturing Company, continues to this day, over one hundred years since its humble beginnings here in Lowell.
Late 1940’s: Newell Manufacturing Co.’s primary business was to manufacture builders’ hardware, such as door closers, latches and stops. However during the late 1940’s they also began creating toy air rifles. Soon these toy rifles were “known the world around and made to withstand the wear which toys of this type must undergo.” Packed with three red ping-pong balls for ammunition, Newell shipped over 300,000 toy guns during the year 1949.
1958: Edwin Potter of Lowell patented a portable machine for orchard growers which could fight frost, spray insecticides and fungicides, spread fertilizer and seed grass. To fight frost, the windmill machine would keep the air moving above the crop to keep the colder air from settling down. Precision Products sold these units as far away as the Southwest and Argentina.