In an earlier blog post I explored the history of the Snap-Coupler hitching mechanism equipped on Allis-Chalmers tractors. While conducting that research I discovered that two Allis-Chalmers engineers designed implement latching systems for tractors. The chief engineer at the La Crosse Works, Willard Tanke, submitted the design trademarked Snap-Coupler. However, another design was patented but never used on Allis-Chalmers tractors.
Wendelin “Shorty” Voegeli submitted his patent of a tractor hitching mechanism the same day as Tanke, August 13,1953. He began working at the Allis-Chalmers Farm Equipment Division in 1935. By the time he retired in 1975 he had worked his way up to vice-chairmen of the Simplicity Manufacturing Company, an Allis-Chalmers acquisition. Voegeli acknowledged the submission of his co-worker’s patent, however he pointed out features he said “encumbered” smooth operation. His design allowed easier unhitching implements and increased safety. To add a more visual perspective to what this design looked like, I have a good friend who’s boyfriend created the coupling mechanism in a CAD program.
According to the wording in the patent, the coupling device released from the stud journal when under tension. The coupling would detach from the stud journal if the implement tongue detached from the bell under the tractor, preventing the implement from swinging up and injuring the operator. To unlatch the implement the operator released the implement tongue under the tractor and drove away. The tension put on the coupler would automatically release it from the stud journal.
Voegeli’s design sheds some light on other implement latching mechanisms Allis-Chalmers engineers were designing. I thought a good way to learn more about it would be to talk to the man who designed it himself. Unfortunately Mr. Voegeli passed away in 2011, taking the background information of his design with him. It would have been interesting to know why the design was passed on in favor of Tanke’s. I would be very curious to know more about Voegeli’s design, and it would be more intriguing to see it work in real life.