SOMERSET, NS - When he agreed to be featured as part of a special series of stories, a Somerset Model T enthusiast had no idea it would result in the gift of an antique tire changer.
John Eaton, the owner of four Ford Model Ts, was featured recently with his 1923 Canopy Express as part of SaltWire Network’s Summer Cars series. The co-founder of the Junkery in Halifax, Ginny Sterling Boddie, read the piece and realized that they had a rather rare accessory in stock that Eaton would probably like to have.
She reached out to Eaton to let him know they had a 1924 Weaver brand tire changer in their shop that he could have if he wanted. Eaton and his wife made the trip to the Halifax business to meet the Boddie’s and to pick up the equipment. Eaton said he was very pleased to get it.
“I was very surprised because I hadn’t seen one,” Eaton said. “As far as I know, there aren’t very many around, none that I know of.”
He was even more impressed once he experienced what a phenomenal job the tire changer does. As a Model T enthusiast, it’s a very useful tool. Eaton had a spare tire that was flat, one he had changed and repaired about four years ago. He said the experience was rather miserable and took two or three days. With the tire changer, the job took about 30 minutes. It allows you to rotate the tire and lock it in place as you work on it.
Eaton said the tires for a Model T are similar to bicycle tires. You have to stretch them to put them on and the struggle without a tire changer is trying to hold the tire steady as you work with a couple of pry bars or tire irons. Rubber gets harder with age, further complicating the process of changing a 70- or 80-year-old tire.
Eaton said it was in several pieces when he got it but he found a picture online that showed him how to put it back together. He was very impressed that, with the exception of the crank – which he built – and a couple of bolts, it was all there. Eaton fashioned a wooden plinth to bolt the tire changer to and he built a tool box on the unit to hold some other tire changing tools he already had.
Through research, Eaton has learned that the original colour of the lettering on the changer was likely yellow, so he plans to paint it authentically.
‘Meant to be’
Sterling Boddie said it “really was meant to be.” The tire changer was picked up in a 2015 garage clean-out and became quite a conversation piece at the Junkery. No one ever guessed correctly what the tire changer was. Sterling Boddie said the Junkery does its best to find suitable places to donate unique items.
“Despite Junkery’s best efforts to reach out to various places such as industrial museums, there was no interest,” Sterling Boddie said. “Junkery could not send this piece to the metal scrapyard and was happy to let it stay as the office conversation piece.”
She noticed an online article on her hometown’s www.CumberlandNewsNow.com about Eaton and his Model T collection and decided to reach out to him to see if the item was something he’d like to have, and it was.
Sterling Boddie assumed that it would be a nice collector’s piece for him to have. She and her husband, the other co-founder of the Junkery, never imagined that it could actually be put to use.
“We are thrilled to know that the long wait to find the perfect home for this piece was worth it, both for us at Junkery and Mr. Eaton,” Sterling Boddie said.
About the tire changer
Sterling Boddie said that based on information found in Google searches and the markings on the piece, they knew that the manufacturer was Weaver Mfg. Co. Ltd. based in Springfield, Illinois. The company manufactured garage and shop equipment. This particular tire changer was made by Weaver Canadian Co. Ltd. in Chatham, Ontario.
She said they found a Weaver catalogue online issued by the Hudson Motor Care Company that dated this model, the Weaver Universal Tire Changer Model E, to 1924.
“It retailed in the United States east of and including Denver for $58 U.S. For western and Canadian prices, you had to ask your jobber,” Sterling Boddie said.
Eaton said the tire changer would work for all makes of demountable tires made in the 1920s and into the 1930s. A friend of his recently drove all the way from Halifax to change two tires because of the amount of work involved without the changer.
Two John and Ginny’s?
When Sterling Boddie first called Eaton, he wasn’t home and she spoke with Mrs. Eaton. At the end of the conversation, Sterling Boddie asked Mrs. Eaton what her name is and they discovered that they are both Ginny’s. It wasn’t until the Eaton’s arrived at Junkery to pick up the tire changer that it dawned on Sterling Boddie that the two couples are both John and Ginny, with Ginny being short for Virginia.
The two Ginny’s shared stories of always having their names spelled incorrectly and wishing they had a nickel for every time they’ve heard “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” The two John’s joked about always hearing “John, be careful” from their respective Ginny’s.
Eaton said it was a great visit and they found the Boddie’s to be very nice people. He said the two couples have a lot in common.
Junkery is a junk removal business located in Halifax that launched in 2015. The company specializes in custom junk removal plans and has an environmental focus. They sort all materials collected and diverts 85 per cent away from the landfill through recycling or donations. The company doesn’t resell any items it collects.
One exception is scrap metal, which Junkery puts into its Junkery Community Sponsorship & Donation fund which helps support several initiatives. The company won the New Business of the Year award from the Halifax Chamber of Commerce in 2016. In 2018, Junkery became the first junk removal company in Canada to become “bullfrogpowered” by green fuel.
For more information on Junkery, visit www.junkery.com.