We never “tyre” of history: The Tire Shrinker

Large cast iron tire shrinker toolA tire shrinker (originally spelled “tyre”) was an important tool in the blacksmith/wheelwright shop back in the day of horse drawn transportation.  Also known as an “upsetter,” the tire shrinker was used to resize the metal band that went around the wooden spoked wheels of buggies, wagons and carriages. When the hub and/or spokes dried out due to age or weather, the metal band, called a tire or tyre, became loose.  The tire would be removed from the wheel, heated, and put into this machine. It would then be “upset” or squeezed leaving a small bulge which would be hammered flat and trimmed on the edges. This process created a tire which was slightly smaller in circumference.  At this point, the tire would be reinstalled on the wheel.  Our tire shrinker was once part of a blacksmith shop in Oklahoma and is a remarkable piece of American history.

A Racy Piece of Washington History

Jockey Bench from Langacres Racetrack in Tacoma, WA, now at its home in the Northwest Carriage Museum in Raymond, WA.Our old wooden wagon seat is an incredible piece of Washington State history.

The Longacres Racetrack in Renton was founded in 1933 by Seattle Real Estate magnates Joseph Gottstein (1891-1971) and William Edris and designed by B. Marcus Priteca. The track’s storied history is amazing. State legislation allowing pari-mutuel betting was passed in early 1933 and signed into law by Gov. Clearance Martin on March 13, 1933.

The track closed to live racing on September 21, 1992. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported, “Before the last race, announcer Gary Henson told theBlack and White Photo of Longacres Racetrack Crowd and Starting Gate on Labor Day, 1933. crowd, ‘These horses belong to you. Listen to their final thunder.'” Then, for probably the first time in track history, the race was run in silence, without Henson’s customary calls (September 22, 1992). More than 23,000 fans crowded the stands to see Native Rustler, ridden by Gary Stevens, win the final race.

For many years, our wagon seat was part of the decor in the jockey’s locker room. Over the years, hundreds of jockey’s used the seat for “booting up” before a race.  The seat was removed during demolition of the track and wasLongacres Racetrack Vintage Illustrated Poster in a private collection until gifted to our museum several years ago. Oh… if that seat could talk!




The Evolution of our Newest Artifact: An 1880s Wheelchair

1880s Three-wheeled Wooden Wheelchair with Cane Seat and Back

A new addition to our collection of period artifacts: an 1880s wooden wheelchair with original cane seat and back.

It is believed one of the first wheelchairs was invented for King Phillip of Spain in 1595. The King suffered from severe gout which made walking difficult. The first self propelled wheelchair was invented by a paraplegic German clock maker in 1655. In 1783, the “bath chair” was invented in Bath, England for sick and injured people visiting the famous Bath mineral springs. Throughout the 19th century, wheelchair design improvements were made including wooden framed chairs with backs and seats made of cane. After the Civil War, additional improvements were made such as wire spoked wheels and rubber tires. This wheelchair, which we were lucky enough to recently add to our collection, is estimated to be from the early 1880s. Wheelchair design improvements continued into the 20th century, with the folding tubular wheelchair being invented in 1932. Modern day wheelchairs are much lighter weight, more easily transported, and motorized in some cases.

Introducing Curator’s Corner: An Exciting New Blog!

Welcome to the Museum’s latest project ~ “Curator’s Corner”.  Our blog will capture my knowledge about the collection and beyond ~ It will be fun, historically interesting, and entertaining.  I will be submitting particulars on history, our collection of vehicles and artifacts, and who knows what other topics!

At times, we will also be opening up the blog to guest contributors and seeing posts from our other staff about museum goings-on.  Join us behind the scenes as we keep history alive, and don’t forget to spread the word of our exciting new undertaking to the other history, restoration, and adventure buffs you know.

Curator Jerry Bowman working on a wheel hub

Thank you, and enjoy!