Case separator

Courtesy of J. Hubert Knapp, Route 1, Box 117 Colville, Washington 99114

J. Hubert Knapp

Content Tools

Route 1, Box 117, Colville, Washington 99114

About the turn of the century, three brothers, Frank, Albert, and Hallie Ham who lived about three miles from us purchased a 28 inch Case separator which was run by horsepower. This machine was the only all steel separator near here for a lot of years. Eventually, I guess all manufacturing companies went to steel.

I am not sure whether I ever saw this machine in operation while it was run by horsepower as I only saw this type of threshing once and I was so young I don't remember whose machine it was.

About 1910 they added a self feeder and purchased a Case 25 HP steam engine to run it. They still used the drag stacker until 1912 when they added the wind stacker. I can remember this machine operating with the drag stacker on it.

Enclosed are four pictures of this machine which I hope will be of interest to you and your readers.

Picture number one is the horsepower rig taken about 1 miles south of Colville, Washington in the Colville Valley on the Hughson farm which adjoins the Ham brothers farm. The Hughson farm is still in the Hughson family and is farmed by the son of one of the Hughson men in picture number four. In picture number one the man standing on the separator with his hand on the weigher is Frank Ham who eventually became a very good friend of mine as he and my older brother went into the service station business together and I worked for them for several years. The man standing on the sweep is Albert Ham, who later became engineer and was one of the best steam men I have ever known. He taught me about all there was to know about the care and operation of a steam traction engine. Years later, this was to mean much to me as I worked on several good jobs operating engines, both stationary and traction.

Picture number two was taken after the self feeder was added and was now run by steam. Again, Frank is on the separator standing in the middle and Albert in the dark clothes is standing directly beneath him. The fifth man sitting on the separator on the right is Hallie Ham who later became separator tender, when Frank went into the service station business.

Picture number three was taken the same day as number two and approximately in the place in the valley as num one.

Picture number four was also taken in about the same place but was taken in 1913. I was 10 years old at that time. The men in this picture are identified as follows, left to right; Albert Ham, Frank Ham, Coens, West, Fritz, William Buckley, G. Hughson, R. Hughson, John Burk, Lee Oaks, J. Hanna, Fonner, and Langley. The only one of these men still living is Lee Oaks.

These pictures were given to me by Mrs. Frank Ham who is still living and is a very good friend of ours.

As a boy I spent a lot of time with this machine when not in school.

During harvest, they usually started threshing about six or six thirty in the morning and threshed until about seven o'clock in the evening or dark, whichever came first. They threshed seven days per week only losing time because of rain or trouble which they had very little of, as they kept their machine in tiptop shape. I have ridden many, many miles on both the engine and separator between jobs. I used to try to get there when they were going to move, as this was what I enjoyed the most. This machine operated until in the thirties when the combines took over. The Colville Valley, where this machine operated, is as level as a floor and was the first to go to combines.

I owned and operated a 28 inch Mc Cormiek-Deering separator powered by a 30 HP Cletrae Tractor, east and north of Colville, in hilly country from 1941 until 1948 when I sold out to a group of farmers because the combines were cutting in until it got to be too far between jobs. I had a real good run for eight years. I never threshed less than 45 days and one fall I ran just over 90 days. That fall I threshed grain out of stacks that had snow on them.

There was another machine that threshed in the valley when I was a boy, that was owned by an adjoining neighbor. That was an Advance outfit. A man in Arlington, Washington by the name of Hanner, now owns this machine. I will write about this outfit sometime as I spent even more time around it than I did with the Ham brothers rig.

NOTE: Picture No. 3 was not clear enough to photograph, therefore it will not appear in this story.