Green Straw Piles in Kansas

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513 Ramona Ct. 2, Monterey,Kansas, California 93940 as told to him by his grandfather.

After reading the letters to the editor in the March-April IMA, Album, I would like to make a few remarks myself.

It seems some people think you have to be over the hill to know anything about steam. I should qualify as I am in the ninth inning. I was ninety-three my last birthday. I spent over thirty years on the dusty end of a big steam outfit and many more years harvesting with combines in Kansas.

In the last four years there have been some outstanding articles in both Iron Men Album and Engineers and Engines about the different makes of engines. I can't say that I agree with everything the boys say, but some of these men have to be very knowledgeable about steam to write such detailed articles. It makes me happy that some of you younger fellows have such outstanding knowledge.

What really prompted this article was a letter to the editor about green straw piles. I'll try and help this man as I don't believe he understands the principles of threshing or correct operation of a threshing machine.

Number one, the machine was designed for the straw to travel over the straw racks and not between the chaffer and sieve. Number two, he must have been completely over-threshing at the cylinder, chopping the straw up if it's falling through the racks and traveling over the shoe. Number three, if you have a machine correctly adjusted, you can not operate it running half empty.

So that you younger fellows can understand, the threshing principle of the threshing machine is just like your combine. There is no basic difference. Of course, I am speaking of the conventional combine and and not a rotary machine. Both the threshing machine and combine must feed correctly, smooth and even at the cylinder. The next step is to thresh correctly at the cylinder. Do not over-thresh or you will have problems of over-loading the shoe. A good operator will take the time to adjust the cylinder to thresh right. The harshness of the threshing action at the cylinder should be no greater than what is necessary to remove the grain from the head. Do not unnecessarily chop the straw to pieces.

The machine should be kept full and run at full capacity. Now I didn't say to crowd the machine. It's just as much a mistake to over-crowd a machine as it is to run one half empty.

Just a little more about running the machine half empty. This is a very bad mistake. The big cylinder threshing machines from 36-inch to 44-inch cylinders were big capacity machines. Just like your modern combines, you can't run them half empty and do a good job. You fellows know that with one of the large modern combines equipped with 24 foot header, if you get into an area that has been dry and the crop is short you can't keep the machine full. You also know that this doesn't work very well and creates a lot of threshing problems. My grandson tells me that on his big new combine equipped with grain monitors, that when he hits a hot spot in the field, and the machine runs half empty, the grain monitor will go crazy. When he gets back in the heavy grain it will settle down.

Another check you fellows can run next summer. Get someone to run your combine. Follow along behind, and hold your hand just behind the shoe. See how much grain you catch in your hand. Now have your operator stop the ground travel. While your machine is emptying out notice that when it becomes about half empty how much more grain you will catch in your hand. The machine will really dump the grain out.

While I am still on threshing machines, I would say that more people make a mistake of not running enough air, than too much. Boys, if you have the cylinder set correctly, belts tight, machine at proper speed, and running up to capacity, turn the air to it.

It sounds like our friend in Nebraska was over-threshing at the cylinder, running half empty, air not adjusted right and slipping belts.

In many years running threshing machines in Kansas, I did not encounter myself all the problems our friend speaks of with Case machines. I have seen these problems with all makes, when not run right.

The four leading separators in Kansas were Rumely, Nichols and Shepard, Avery and Case. All four were good machines. On an out and out threshing contest the Rumely, Nichols and Shepard and Avery would out-thresh a Case. However, day in and day out the Case was hard to beat. Few if any machines would beat a Case putting clean grain in your wagon. In out of condition grain the Rumely and Nichols and Shepard would have a slight advantage over Case.

Reeves and Case steam engines did the plowing in Kansas. Others tried it with varying degrees of success.

Reading the different articles, you boys have sure been pulling Old Abe's tail feathers.

It's only wishful thinking when you say the reason for Case's success was price. There was only one engine that could possibly be worth the extra cost over Case. That was the Canadian Reeves. And even this is questionable. Reeves and Case both proved themselves in Kansas.

Just a word to Wayne Kennedy. The Advance Rumely Universal was a completely new engine, not a warmed over engine. However, by the time they arrived in Kansas most of the steam plowing was over. These engines looked good to me.

I can see that you boys don't agree on engines and separators. They didn't agree in 1915 either. As Wayne Kennedy says, this shows our hobby is alive and well.