MARSHALL - If you need tools, Wayne Seehusen can build them for you - if you want them made of plastic and the size of your little finger. It's part of Seehusen's idea to sell advertising to help fund development of his invention.
Seehusen is a welder at Marshall Machine. In the evenings after work, he is either working on his invention the Bend Defender, or moulding small plastic tools in his basement workshop for advertising giveaways.
"My first order was two years ago for The Caboose in Tracy about the time I started playing around with plastic," Seehusen said. "They wanted something unique and we came up with a chunk of (plastic) charcoal stamped with a free drink logo."
Seehusen shows the simple plastic device he made to keep chaff and debris from building up between the roof and vent of a grain bin.
Seehusen uses a rubbery silicon-based plastic he pours into moulds he makes himself. He can make plastic replicas of any small item, with a business' name and logo on the side.
"I can reproduce just about anything in plastic," Seehusen said. "A standard steel mould costs about $50,000 to make. I can't match the quantity of production, but I can make limited numbers for small businesses."
Seehusen showed some of his ideas: a plastic holder that hooks on the edge of a table to hold a woman's purse, a small plastic crescent wrench key ring ornament, and a plastic tire. All of them can be made with a company's name and phone number. Seehusen has an engraver make a small plaque with the information, attaches it to the side of the prototype, and pours the silicon mixture around it. When it hardens he cuts it in half and uses the impression inside as a mould.
He sells the adverting gimmicks to fund his real interest: the Bend Defender, a quarter-inch thick plastic device that fits between the roof of a grain bin and the vent to prevent chaff and debris from building up.
"All the corn chaff and debris collects between the roof and the vent and you can't clean it out unless you go down inside, and that's dangerous," Seehusen said. "I've got six prototypes up now, six on my Dad's farm, and my grandfather's, cousins' and uncle's in Iowa.
Seehusen said there is a patent pending on the Bend Defender.