Dale Radiel is a completist. A completist is a collector who wants to collect an example of every item in a particular field. His field is International Harvester (IH) tools. “International Harvester is still adding wrench variations,” he said. “It’s exciting to find a tool that I don’t have.” He has amassed the second- or third-largest IH tool collection in the United States.
Meet Radiel and see the collection at his Wrench Museum, 223 N. Kennedy, Sharon Springs. The museum is open by appointment only. Call 785-852-4716 or 785-821-1206. Please allow at least a day’s notice.
As Radiel’s collection grew, he needed a place to display it. He built a building to house it in June 2005.
The building does not advertise what it contains. It’s simply a white metal building with a post rock sign in front. The sign says “Radiel”, not “The Wrench Museum”.
The museum building is wall to wall, floor to ceiling wrenches and other tools. But the walls and walls of wrenches are not the entire collection. He still has some of his tools in a quonset hut on his farm, two storage buildings and a house full of tools.
But the collection is not limited to IH. He also collects the companies who later merged into IH: McCormick Harvesting Machine Company; Deering Harvester Company; Milwaukee Harvesting Machine Co.; Plano Manufacturing Co., Warder, Bushnell, and Glessner; Parlin and Orendorff. And he has other tools, too.
Radiel began collecting his 10,000-plus piece collection as a farmer and as a mechanic. He gathered them while he was “busy trying to make a living.” At first he collected tools in general. He has antique car tool kits and railroad tool kits. “If I was interested in them, I’d grab them.” Eventually, he realized he needed to specialize.
After he sold his shop and cattle in 2001, Radiel realized he needed “something to do to keep busy,” he said. He joined the Missouri Valley Wrench Club. The club meets annually in York, Neb. He obtains many items in his collection through the club. He attended farm machinery auctions 10-15 years ago, he said. Now few second- and third-generation farms exist. “If the auction ad lists lots of old machinery, I’ll go,” he said.
The tools usually arrive rusty and dirty, so Radiel cleans and polishes them in the shop section of his museum building. He paid the least — $1 — for a square socket in a box holding 10-15 tools. The most expensive was a $400 IH tool.
Come see the amazing variety and design of the thousands of wrenches in Sharon Springs’ Wrench Museum.