Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Little Ice Augur History by Ken Hedmark

Ken Hedmark, author of the outstanding new book Fences in the Woods, writes about the news that Rapala has purchased StrikeMaster, makers of ice augurs since the 1960s.

A Little Ice Augur History

by Ken Hedmark

Your "News of the Week" post on Joe's Board brought back some memories for me. Specifically, Rapala's purchase of StrikeMaster.

This might be of interest to you: StrikeMaster started out in Osceola, WI under the name Osceola Power Equipment, Inc. While I worked for the USGS in Rice Lake, we dropped off our old General ice augers at their shop for repair, when needed. One day in the late 1960s, they called us with news that they had built a prototype ice auger, which they thought was leaps and bounds above the General. They offered to give us this prototype to test out, since they knew we drilled many, many holes during the course of a winter while streamgaging (each streamflow measurement on each stream required 20-25 holes. That combined with holes drilled for water-quality sampling could total over 2,000 holes per winter). In the end, we could keep the auger if we gave them a written critique.

This new auger weighed MUCH less, was faster, and was equipped with a clutch (the General auger had no clutch, which meant if the blade hit something solid, it would at best spin you for a ride and at worst tear your arms from their sockets!). Needless to say, we thought it was great, we suggested a couple of small changes to it, and then we ordered two more. So, that's a snapshot of the early years as the OPE ice auger first went into production.

I'm not sure when OPE became StrikeMaster...possibly in the late 1980's-early 1990's when they moved operations to Big Lake, MN.

Thanks, Ken! Here is a history of ice augurs from StrikeMaster. It's very cool.



-- Dr. Todd

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