By Barry Hoff | Bloomer Advance
Saturday, Oct. 13 will mark the end of an era in Bloomer when the business that began in 1925 as Moon Machine Works and later became Coon’s Pump and Machine closes for good. All of the turning lathes, shop equipment, tools, parts and inventory will be sold at auction beginning at 10 a.m. at 1513 Main St. in Bloomer.
According to Tina Susedik’s Bloomer sesquicentennial history book, A Jump Into The Past, “Merton Moon learned the trade as a machinist while working for Keller Tool and Machine Works in Eau Claire. In 1925 he opened a shop, Moon Machine Works, in the old Stelter building on the west side of town.
“In 1929 he purchased the old Swan Livery building, tore it down and put up the machine shop. In addition to welding, milling machine and lathe work, he manufactured snow plows for milk trucks when they first started driving trucks all winter. He also manufactured casein grinders for creameries in Wisconsin and Minnesota.”
According to Susedik, the first snowplow bought by Armour & Company was built by Moon Machine Works in 1927.
In 1956 Maurice Conrad was driving milk truck for $3 per day and farming when a neighbor, Richard Rufledt, who was working for Moon to him to stop in and he’d put him to work.
So, one day after his milk route Conrad did just that. When he got there there was a pile of 3/8” steel rods 18 inches long. He was told to cut threads on each end of those rods.
Conrad said it was a pretty simple job, put in the lathe and run the die on to it.
“I cut threads and I cut threads, both ends had to be cut. I finally got them done, I don’t know how many days it took, afternoons you know,” said Conrad.
“I came in the next day and there lay a pile of rods, same thing, no threads. Start cutting threads.”
He went on to explain that they were building the bridge by Two Acres Supper Club on what was then Hwy, 53. The rods were used to hold plywood in place as forms.
He said his second job for Moon Machine Works was to go up there and cut the rods off even with the cement after the plywood was taken off.
Conrad said he continued to learn and work for Moon until at one point he leased the business from him. And, sometime in the late 1960s he bought the machine shop from Moon.
Over the years Coon’s Pump and Machine did a lot of different things.
“Whatever people brought in I did,” said Conrad. “I had four men and myself working at one time. We used to do a lot of heavy truck work. Either they were too long or too short so we made them the right length.”
Conrad said he also did a few things people said couldn’t be done and gave the example of rebuilding the rear end housing for a heavy truck. A truck had lost a wheel and when the axel came out it tore up the housing and bent it up.
When Conrad looked at it he didn’t think it could be fixed and the machinist working for him told him, “Don’t even try,” but the customer, Bill Fanetti told him to fix it because he couldn’t find another one to buy and the truck was no good without it. Conrad relented and said he’d put $50 worth of time and materials into it and then throw it away for him.
But, as he began to work on it Conrad realized that maybe he could fix it and by the time he was done it looked brand new.
When Fanetti, came to pick it up he asked Conrad where his housing was because the rebuilt one looked brand new.
Over the years Conrad also did work for Catalytic Combustion and Nelson Filtration when they were young companies and didn’t have all of the machine tools to do the work inhouse.
Think back on his time working for and then owning the machine shop, Conrad said, “I like it. I hate to see it go. I enjoyed my life and my work.”
And, he’s still not ready to give up one aspect of the business.Over the years, Conrad also did a lot of work on water pumps, which he plans on continuing to do some of. He said he’s keeping the tools, equipment and parts to continue doing some pump work.
The auction on Saturday, Oct. 13 starts at 10 a.m. at 1513 Main St. in Bloomer. Andrews Auction Service is handling the auction and the auction bill and photos can be found at http://www.jerryandrewsauction.com. According to the auction bill small tools, antiques sell first, large equipment will start by 11 a.m.