I had been looking for one of the smaller incubators that looks like an end table. One finally came up on Craig’s List within driving distance back in November, 2016. I went to pick it up and in talking with the seller I got some of the history of it. They were cleaning out their barn and discovered it behind a bunch of stuff. The original owner was the previous owner of their historic home. It was purchased from the Harvey Hardware Co. in Monticello, GA as indicated by a stamp on the bottom of the incubator. The Harvey Hardware Company opened for business a little after World War 1. This is a Buckeye Incubator. The label was very deteriorated so I have no idea as to what model it is. My internet research hasn’t turned up much information about these incubators so my best guess is it was made sometime between 1920 and 1940.
Amazingly, all the kerosene heater pieces are intact. There is a little insect damage to the legs, but the incubator body is in great shape. Other than the varnish had bubbled from being stored in a barn. The water reservoir leaks. I tried to solder the leaks but didn’t get them all. I may try and fix that again sometime.
I took all the hardware off and ran the small things through my reloading tumbler to remove the tarnish. Some of the pieces still needed a light sanding and buffing. I then repainted the hardware with either a bronze metallic or a galvanized gray depending on what material it was made of.
I had to strip all of the wooden pieces. Chemical stripper, scraping and lots of sanding to remove the old varnish. I then finished the exterior with 2 coats of Danish Oil. The interior was pretty clean all things considered. A little scraping and sanding removed what little dried poop and eggshell there was. The holes for the legs were enlarged so I used Gorilla Glue to secure the lag screws back in place.
The egg tray had to be rebuilt. I needed to make it smaller to make room for the electrical wiring anyway. I had some cypress wood left over from building beehives so I made a new egg tray and used ¼” welded wire mesh instead of window screen like the original. I also added dividers in the tray to hopefully keep the chicks separated. The original had a second insert that went under the egg tray that was covered in burlap. My guess is, that you wet the burlap periodically and that provided the humidity needed. I took that out totally and will use a water pan.
For heat, I first tried a heat tape like you would use to prevent pipes from freezing. I attached it to the water pipe in the lid hoping to fill the water reservoir and use it as a heat sink. But, the heat tape never would get the temperature high enough.
I purchased two 25 watt heating elements like the ones used in a styrofoam incubator and the standoffs for them. I used the Incustat Basic Digital Electronic Thermostat to control the heating elements. I had originally wanted to use the old-style wafer thermostats but I couldn’t think of a good way to install them without taking up too much room inside. I added 2 square electrical boxes to the side of the incubator for all the electrical connections and I added a small LED puck light to the interior.
My plans are to use this as a hatcher to compliment my Leahy Favorite 416. Since I will only be hatching in it, I have not added a fan. I can still do that if needed since the Incustat has the wiring for a fan included.
I’ve got it in the garage heating up now with several chicken eggs due to go into lock down in 2 days. Hopefully this endeavor will work out well. At the very least, I’ve got a nice looking piece of furniture.
The New-Old Buckeye Incubator
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