Alanson Harris

Alanson Harris, 1816-1894, founder of A. Harris and Son implement works at Beamsville, Ontario

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Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania

Inventions that changed farming from a hand operation to the way we know it in America today, and the men that made the progress possible, are featured in a new book, 'The Grain Harvesters.'

Pictures aplenty help tell the storyCyrus Hall McCormick and Obed Hussey, both of reaper fame; C. W. March, inventor of the March Harvester, who later became editor of the Farm Implement News; Daniel Massey, pioneer Ontario farmer and founder of the Massey Works; and J. I. Case and John Deere are just a few of the featured giants who put farming mechanization vast strides ahead.

The book was written by Dr. Graeme R. Quick and Dr. Wesley F. Buchele and published by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers. Dr. Quick is a research scientist with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Australia. Dr. Buchele is a professor in the Department of Agricultural Engineering at Iowa State University.

The McCormicks began building twine binders equipped with the Appleby knotter in 1881. They introduced their light steel binder in 1888. It was lighter by the weight of a man.

The book 'is the story of the tools, machines and systems used throughout history to harvest grain.'

That's a big goal. You can rest assured that it is reached.

Harvesting techniques are traced from the days of antiquity to modern times, and a look is taken at the prospects for tomorrow. The fact is noted that, in spite of dramatic mechanical advances, in parts of the world today grain is harvested by hand with simple tools. Perhaps half of the world's population is fed in this manner.

The development of the reaper, harvester and binder, steam threshers, and combines and other machines are explained.

The authors tell how mergers created the giants of the farm machinery industry such as International Harvester, Deere and Company, Allis Chalmers and Massey-Ferguson.

One chapter explains the growth of agriculture in Australia; how its unique problems were overcome. Today it is a major grain exporting nation.

One especially interesting chapter is 'The Golden Era of Steam and Big Threshers.'

Some of the problems of steam are pointed out. The danger of explosions, the difficulty in crossing bridges, the need for a lot of water, and the hazard of fire are cited.

This chapter tells of 'the aura of glamour' that is still seen today in steam shows and threshing days, and how 'the engineer and crew took quiet pride in their ability to set up the thresher and have the rig working within the shortest possible time.'

Any steam engine fan should enjoy this chapter.

Of all the activities of man, the most basic is agriculture. Drs. Quick and Buchele, in their preface, state that 'if mankind were suddenly deprived of all source of grain and seeds for even a year, all human and most animal life would vanish from the face of the earth.'

Harvesting of grain, then, becomes vital, and the story of harvesting through the centuries should be one of the most fascinating chapters in the book of man.

'The Grain Harvesters' captures some of this fascination as it deals with problems, inventions, men and machines. It is filled with illustrations. Old photographs, charts illustrating mergers, drawings, maps, and cartoons, make the book pictorially very attractive.

'The Grain Harvesters' can be ordered from: Stemgas Publishing Company, Box 328, Lancaster, Pennsylvania 17604 $15.75 a copy postpaid.

The flop-over or revolving hay rake was one of the first implements to be built by A. Harris and Son Harris' Beamsville, Ontario works founded in 1857.

1912 Massey-Harris No. 3 Reaper-Thresher designed for the Argentine market was similar to the Australian No. 2, but had a large bat reel and knife to replace the comb-type front of the No. 2