what's this number 16 lug tightener

Most of the time, when we get a submission for “What’s This?” there’s a good description of what the item is. Once in a while, there’s nothing. Those are times we hope our readers have a good handle on whatever is shown.

The most recent item featured in “What’s This?” didn’t give us a lot to go on. Leland Schlake of Cortland, Neb., sent a photo of a tool that he found on his farm, buried in dirt. About all he remembered was his dad using it to tightened the lugs on the wheels of box wagons.

We had lots of readers who agreed. Some even added a bit more information.

“This is a wrench to tighten the axle nuts on wooden wagon wheels” wrote Randy Irlbeck of Dedham, Iowa. “After the wooden wagon wheels were gone a lot of these were used for hitch pins when the tractor came along.”

“This item slightly bent has a twofold use. It appears to be a lynch pin whereby the evener is attached to the tongue of the horse wagon towed machine,” wrote Darrell Kaminski of Loup City, Neb. “The rectangular end serves as a tool to remove the lug nut from the axle of a farm equipment, e.g. wagon hay raking etc. … to lubricate with axle grease. It was unique in early pioneer days when traveling on the new frontier where utilitarian items often served multiple uses in an attempt to conserve space, weight, etc. on the long journey west.”

Added Tom Dickey of Albion, Neb., “The photo of the tool is a wagon hammer. It was an all-around tool sold with wagons.”

Other responses:

Your object is a lug wrench for an old wagon that had either steel-spoked or wooden-spoked wheels. A large nut approximately 2-3 inches wide held the wheel on the axle. This looks like a cheater bar was used on it a few times as the handle is bent. Russ Crawford, Exira, Iowa.

I did recognize the mystery object: a wagonhammer, a tool used by the covered wagons. I only know this because it is the brand for Jay Wolf’s Wagonhammer Ranch and he gave one for the building at the Gudmundson Research Center at Whitman. Ann K. Bruntz, Friend, Neb.

The threads were left handed on the left side of the running gear so the turning of the wheel did not loosen the nut when the wagon was being used. Ed Anderson, Ayr, Neb.

In the early days of Chrysler Corp., their vehicles also had left hand threaded studs on the left side to keep the wheels on the vehicle. It was not unusual when removing a wheel from the left side of such car to find a stud bolt twisted off because someone did not know that those studs were left-hand threaded and used some superduper wrench to try to accomplish the task. Gene Kulhanek, Howells, Neb.

My great-grandfather started using this around 1900 as his cattle brand, I still use it to this day. Our brand is just the u without the handle. Joe Moore, Gothenburg, Neb.

Every response we received included either the wrench to remove and replace the wagon wheel or used to fasten the doubletree to the tongue of a wagon. Many included both. We received responses from: Matt Harvey, Valentine, Neb.; Carl Domsch, Wakefield, Neb.; Larry Swanson, Colon, Neb.; Robert Connot, Valentine, Neb.; Kermit Smith, Eustis, Neb.; Maynard Mozer, Norfolk, Neb.; Mel Sporrer and the Bunkhouse Gang, Logan, Iowa; Bob Means, Breda, Iowa; Leonard Walde, Westside, Iowa; Gary Cooper, Fontanelle, Iowa; Ted Haverkamp, Verdigree, Neb.; Leonard Carson, Odebolt, Iowa; Oliver Horton, Stuart, Neb.; Douglas Mchenry, Aurora, Neb.; Dave Mandel, West Point, Neb.; Mark Pritchard, Spalding, Neb.; Kipp Haight, Bennet, Neb.; Roy Reinke, Columbus, Neb.; Dwight Phillips, Fremont, Neb.; David D. Bruntz, Friend Neb.; Gary Ladenburger, North Bend, Neb.; Larry DeBaets, Burwell, Neb.; Bill Mrla, Lawton, Iowa; Jess Bandy, Oshkosh Neb.; Neal Gaul, Earling, Iowa; Vern Dahlman, Pender, Neb.; Daryl Koperski, Boelus, Neb.; Don Smydra, Boelus, Neb.; Kermit Wilke, Wilcox, Neb.; James Meis, Elgin, Neb.; Dean Wilkerson, Coleridge, Neb.; Don Andersen, Ponca, Neb.; Rod Zohner, Battle Creek Neb.; Tom Stevens. Marquette, Neb.; Ken Widhalm, Dodge, Neb.; Eldon Hestermann, Eagle, Neb.; John Amdor DVM (ret.), Defiance, Iowa; Janis Gress, Nebraska City, Neb.; Joe Fryman, Blair, Neb.; Steve Wolverton, Madison, Neb.; Karl Jacobson, Concordia, Kan.; Don Anderson, Osceola, Neb.; Daniel Boellstorff, Brock, Neb.; Robert Campbell, Neola, Iowa; George Albin, Hastings, Neb.; Darwin Larson, Ansley, Neb.; Larry and Nancy Etmund, Martell, Neb.; Tony Vrana, Seward, Neb.; Fred Howard, Sargent, Neb.; Harold Thies, Lincoln, Neb.; Clay Meyer, Walthill, Neb.; Jackie Wedemeyer, Scottsbluff, Neb.