Monday, January 22, 2018

Metal Detecting Find - Brake Ratchet (My Favorite Find Ever)

Item: Brake Ratchet
Discovery Date: January 20, 2018
Discovery Location: Maybe 4 inches deep, in a wooded area of my back yard
Item Creation Date: Early 1900's?

Look at this thing! It's awesome, right? When I dug down through the dirt, the first thing I found was the area with the teeth, and I thought it was a saw. I pulled it out, and I had never seen a saw like it! It's oval, has teeth on one side, and it has two holes for bolts (with one bolt still intact).

I posted it on a metal detecting forum and was informed that is not a saw at all. It's in fact something called a brake ratchet. It was part of the braking system of an old horse-drawn wagon. You can see such a wagon on the South Yuba River Park Association web site, and if you scroll down through the pictures on that page, you can find a photo that includes a brake ratchet like this one. According to that web site, these wagons were made starting in 1850, but there's no guarantee that the earliest models had this style of brake. I did find a patent for "new and useful improvements" to ratchet brakes. That patent is dated 1902. It's hard to date this item beyond that, but I do like to think that this thing is 100 years old.

I love (like, a lot) the idea that someone 100 years ago was riding on a wagon over this property. This area was farmland, so he was probably hauling hay or bushel baskets of a recent harvest. Cool!