A THRESHER MAN FROM TEXAS

Mobile cook shack

With my mobile cook shack in the background. Left to right, James Sharp, Mrs. R. A. Whisenhunt, Ellen Balch Cooks, Mrs. Joe Milner, Mr. Joe Milner, We were threshing for July 1939.

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Part Three

The 1730 I might say I grew up with it as I was only 16 years of age when it was new and I have spent the remainder of my life with it. It is a cross mounted four cylinder4 7/8 inch bore with 7 in. stroke with a governed speed of 825 rpm, which made it an ideal tractor for belt work. It was built on the unit principal with all parts very accessible with removable sleeves. Lubrication was mechanical pump with splash. Its cooling system was tubilar radiator with fan and centrifugal pump with a capacity of 31 gal. per minute radiator capacity 8 gallons. The clutch was multiple disc in belt pulley. The ignition system was Bosch high tension Magneto. The governor was fly ball type and the most sensitive I ever saw on a tractor. I kept this tractor in the best of condition which wasn't hard to do. It never did let me down so why wouldn't I keep it.

I mentioned earlier in this article of a man I would mention later. I would not want to write without paying tribute to one of the best friends I ever had. He had a lot to do with this article as I couldn't of kept my machinery going without his help. He was the late Alfred Canutson of Clifton, Texas who operated a modern machine shop there. He had helped me when I was a kid on such projects as a power sausage mill I devised to run with a single cylinder gasoline engine and a ice cream freezer to be run with power and many other things. He was not only the best workman as a machinist and welder that I ever had the pleasure of knowing but was one of the best men I knew. He was never too busy to stop and work on a threshing machine. It seemed that it was a pleasure for him to get out of bed at night and help you.

He was of Norwegian descent and they in my opinion are the finest people in the world. He helped me with all my troubles, if I come up with an idea he would have a better one. It broke his heart when I bought the Case separator. He was a Minneapolis man. The only time I ever got ahead of him on anything was on the 1730. If it had a weakness it was its cooling system. The fan was driven off the auxiliary shaft by bevel gears by a flat belt off a pulley about 7 in diameter that drove the fan pulley which was about 3 in diameter. As long as the flat belt was tight and no grease got on it there was no slipage. It run cool. It had a good way of tightening the belt but by having a tight belt it was hard on the bearings and could cut the bevel gears out. I had the idea that if I had a double vee belt on it would stop the trouble. I went down and asked Canuteson if he could order me two double grooved pulleys that would run the fan a good bit faster. He shook his head and said he didn't think that would help. I went on but later went back and brought the subject up with him again. He still seemed to think that my idea wasn't worthwhile. I related to him that I thought to run the fan faster wouldn't hurt anything as it was on a straight shaft and with the vee belts there would be very little slippage and if he wasn't going to get them I was going to try to get them else-where. He said if I just had to have them he would just make them. He could make better ones then we could buy. They made the best pair of pulleys I ever saw. Now you wonder if they worked. There were several 1730 Minneapolis tractors in that area and it wasn't long till they all were equipped with vee fan belts.

The first thing in operating a threshing machine successful is your machine has to run as near perfect as possible. Next your crew has to be good. It makes no difference how good your machinery is if your men don't work to keep it at full capacity. I was lucky i n having some of the finest crews in the area especially before world war twol I hired the best I could get, most of them local and on the runif one give trouble he didn't stay around long.

The old saying the way to a man's heart is through his stomach is true. A working man has to eat. I was blessed with good cooks, all ladies, one chief cook and a helper. I would turn all the buying of groceries over to them. I had a Mobile cook shack, self propelled, built on a truck with a Delco Light plant trailed behind.

We didn't have R. E. A. them days. Later I had butane gas in it. I want to mention some of my cooks, Mrs. R. A. Whisenhunt, Miss Ellen Balch, Mrs. L. D. Humes, Mrs. Earl Blankenship, Mrs. W. P. Voss, Mrs. Luther Briazill, Mrs. D. Riddle, Mrs. Marvin Dollins, and others.

I never attempted to operate my machinery by myself. I always had a experienced helper, W. P. Buddy Voss, a neighbor and customer and deer hunting companion was with me most of the time. D. J. Curley Thomas an old retired thresherman of the steam engine days, whose father before him was a thresherman, helped me out some. We supervised our separator constantly and was always finding something out of adjustment. Now days the combine operator climbs aboard his 14 foot self propelled with one object in mind, 50 acres per day result green fields in the fall.

The men on this picture were (left to right) Fred Schultz, Bill Schmidt, Joe Tuech, John Kocher and William Bartelt in front.

I always was mechanical minded and studied nothing else but I will have to tip my hat to the old wagon and team for getting grain to a separator. We used ten wagons and teams in this part of Texas for a 28 inch machine with one man to the wagon. He loaded and fed off at the separator. After everyone went to using tractors in the early forties, of course, we had to quit the teams. I got the idea of building big wagons. I built five-some on old separator wheels. They would haul a mighty load. They were twenty feet long by eight feet wide with two men on each. It just wasn't like the wagon and teams.

Back 25 to 30 years ago the boys grew up with the idea of getting to go with the thresher. They wanted to see who could make the best hand. The boys of today would frown at the thought of it.

It is a pleasure to recall my threshing experiences. I once had a whole crew of wagon boysten of them out of three families.

My all time crew of wagon men is this picture of the 1941 season. They were as good as could be found. Like the four Horsemen of Notre Dame they had worked together so much and understood each other so well that they just didn't make mistakes. They were Grady Hollinsworth, Sam Pruitt, W. D. Tharp, Johnnie Watson, Hugh Epps, Cecil Williams, S. T. Watson, Troy Whisenhunt, Lloyd Homerstad, and Douglas Whisenhunt. All of them are still living. Some not so far away. I plan on having a reunion some day and take another picture of them and see how they look after 22 years. I'll bet they wouldn't want to thresh.

Some years after we would finish our run around Turnersville we would make a run over in the next community. It was a Norwegian settlement. Some of the old timers had been born in Norway. They are the finest people in the world. They had customs different to the people in our community. They were good grain raisers. They had their own company thresher and operated it themselves and paid dividens where we run independent in our part of the country and the machines and equipment was owned by individuals like myself.

In later years they got to hiring independents from up in our country to come in and help them out especially when world war two was approaching and labor got scarce.

For a rig from our part of the country to get to go over there after finishing its run at home was like a college football team getting to go to a bowl game. It not only was like going to another country but added several dollars to their pay roll. The boys would work to get to go. We made it four times 1938 and l940, 1941 and 1943. It was a custom after a run to have a picnic for all the boys that had made the run and their families and the customers that we had threshed for. Sometimes there would be as many as two hundred present. We would take the cook shack over to the Leon River, about ten miles distant, and with the light plant light up the camp ground and swimming hole. I always had barbeque. The cooks would prepare a meal and the ladies would bring pies and cakes. A royal feast we would have. Everybody brought their bed rolls and spent the night.

Them days are gone for ever but they were enjoyable even if there was a lot of hard work to it. I don't think it hurt any of us.