November 5, 2012

Dawnville man chops back-breaking work with ‘No-Hoe’ invention

Rachel Brown

— Freddie Richmond has invented things all of his life.

When he was 5, he created a water wheel out of cornstalks. Years ago, he created a set of “Mickey wheels” that function similarly to motorized roller skates.

Now, at age 77, he’s fashioned a tractor and tiller implement that he said he originally made just to save his own back. Two-and-a-half years ago, he said, he suffered a shoulder injury that has plagued him ever since; but, like your typical Southern man, he still likes to dig in a garden every year.

The only problem was his shoulder still gave him fits.

So Richmond thought about his plight, grabbed his employee of many years, Martin Rodriguez, and spent the next several hours designing what his wife of 56 years, Winona, eventually dubbed the “No-Hoe.” The No-Hoe is a small metal piece that can be affixed to a tractor or tiller. A motor and pulley it’s connected to cause it to rapidly plow in an up-and-down motion. A small piece that Richmond said can be changed in about 30 seconds allows the farmer to use the implement for digging shallow holes.

The patent is pending on the design, he said, and he’s talking with several companies about manufacturing the product. Unlike a traditional tiller, the No-Hoe is designed to get very close to growing or producing plants without harming them. Richmond said it’s also designed not to fling dirt back on the garden plants. The interchangeable digging mechanism can come in varying sizes. It’s essentially a shaped blade that spins around to dig a hole the width of the metal.

“He first came out and said, ‘I think I might name it Richmond Vertical Rotary Hoe-er,’” Winona Richmond recalled. “I looked at him and I said, ‘I don’t think that sounds too good.’”

She suggested leaving “Richmond” out of the name altogether and focusing on a moniker that described what the device did. Her husband agreed, and the name, so far, has stuck.

Freddie Richmond said he’s invented too many things to say which one is his favorite, but when he finished the No-Hoe, he said he felt so happy he could hardly contain himself. He’s excited about No-Hoe’s potential to transform the way average people think about farming.

“There’s a lot at stake,” he said. “It was just the simplest thing in the world, but it worked so good. It will affect a lot of the people throughout the world.”

After he finds someone to manufacture the product, he plans to work on an invention he said will recycle tires in a more economical manner.

Winona Richmond said she met her husband when she was still a teenager and had just moved to Dalton. It didn’t take long for her to be swept off her feet by the “good-looking, tall man with the blackest hair I’d ever seen and the bluest eyes I’d ever seen,” she said. She still calls him “the best man” she’s ever known, and she talks about the inventions that line his workshop and home.

“They’re all over the wall in the office, all the things he’s made,” she said. “When he starts building something, there’s not a thing you can do to stop him.”