An inventive mind

DeWayne Bartels
Don Kramer is shown here with the E-Z Ditcher, invented in his home workshop.

Don Kramer has a quick smile and a quick mind.

Kramer, 80, has used a lifetime of building knowledge to create an invention to install the popular invisible dog fence seamlessly.

Inventor born

His endeavor into the world of inventing began a few years back when a friend asked him if he had a tool to install the wiring for her dog fence. Kramer said he sure did. He planned to lend her some tools until he learned how much ground she had to cover.

“When she said she needed to lay 800 feet of wire underground, I said, ‘My God, you’ll be all month laying that,’” Kramer said.

He went to bed that night thinking about the problem. By the time he awoke the next morning he had a plan.

Kramer, a tinkerer and wood worker, went to his scrap metal pile.

“I did some cutting, some welding and I had a tool that could be pulled behind a lawn tractor,” Kramer said.

He called his friend and headed to her home. He tried his new tool. The ground was so wet though it did not make as nice a ditch in the ground as he wanted.

He spent the rest of the weekend thinking about the problem. He came up with a solution. He added a tube to run the wire through.

He went back to his friend’s home.

“In an hour we ran about 400 feet of wire,” Kramer said.

Still, Kramer was not satisfied.

The blade to cut the ground was getting caught up in grass roots that would bunch up.

His thinking cap went back on.  He devised yet another tool with an additional sharp blade in front to cut the grass roots to eliminate the root clogs.

That incarnation of the tool worked the way Kramer wanted.

“With that improvement we can lay 1,000 feet of wire in an hour,” Kramer said.

A new wrinkle

While being an inventor is a new profession for Kramer it does run in his blood.

“My grandfather made the fluid drive system (an early automatic transmission) and took it to Walter Chrysler. Chrysler told him, ‘It works, but the public doesn’t want it,’” Kramer said. “When my grandfather’s patent ran out Chrysler put it in their cars.”

Kramer said his grandfather was a man who made his living primarily in the field of farm equipment and plows. Karamer said, therefore, problem-solving is in his blood.

He spent 15 years laying floors then worked with his brother as a general contractor and then built wood stairs for contractors.

He said that has helped direct his mind in a way that seeks simple and practical solutions to problems.

Kramer has his tool perfected.

It has been tested.

Now, he just needs to get the word out of its existence.

“I haven’t really sold any yet. Nobody knows about it,” Kramer said.

That is where a new problem has arisen for Kramer. Marketing his tool is going to take use of the Internet.

He has family and friends working on rental agreements and on an Internet presentation on his tool dubbed the E-Z Ditcher.

He hopes to sell the tool to rental companies across the nation for $150 each.

“The problem I have is the Internet is not mechanical,” he said, laughing.

“I can’t figure it out.”