John Reid / Ernest Hayes

Wire Strainers

Wire Strainers - John Reid / Ernest Hayes

John Stuart Reid (b. 1857, d. 1894) came up with an ingenious invention to fix up the broken fences, but also to solve another issue. No.8 Wire, so favoured of farmers at the time, had a couple of challenges. While it was thin enough to be pliable, it was affected by the weather, stretching when it was hot and becoming loose. It was painful as a farmer to have to keep tightening and loosening the #8 when the weather changed.

Around 1885, Reid developed a device that could go in as part of the fence, which allowed the farmer to adjust the tension of the wire easily, and do it without the hard work of having to pull and yank the wire by hand. The device looked like a small handle, connected to wire ratchet wheel. Pulling the handle turned the wheel which squeezed the wire through and gripped it so it couldn't slip back. It was a major labour saving device, and soon 'Reid's Titan Wire Stretcher' was a great success, with the papers of the day cooing over it, saying 'the knowledge how to use it could be acquired in a few minutes and that an ordinary lad could work it without too much exertion'.

Reid patented it in NZ and overseas, and achieved good commercial success with his strainer, although he also had to fend off another Otago local in the process.