Harold Fratzke, Cottonwood, Minnesota, has been contributing ideas to All Around the Farm for over 40 years.
His most recent submission came about because Fratzke was tired of having to go to the shop when he needed something pressed. “I decided to make a device that was portable and useful,” he says.
Fratzke built a hydraulic press using scraps from around the shop. The uprights are made with 2×2-inch square tubing. The top and bottom are made using railroad irons.
The top plate has a 2-inch hole cut in it to allow for pressing bearings, sprockets, and gears. He uses a 20-ton jack set between the ridges on the railroad iron where the railroad rails were originally set. Fratzke says different attachments can be made, as needed, for bending iron or pressing shafts.
Farm operation: Harold Fratzke farmed 900 acres of mostly corn and soybeans in Cottonwood, Minnesota. His son, Kent, runs the operation today. “The thing about farming is it forces you to look for solutions to problems,” Fratzke says. “That, and all the time spent daydreaming in a tractor, created a great environment for inspiration.”
Accomplishments: Fratzke was inducted into the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame in 1994 and has had numerous inventions adopted into the commercial world. Fratzke has also had over 20 ideas published in All Around the Farm.
Family: He and his wife, Lois, have been married for 74 years. They have four sons, five grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.