Header barge

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Anamoose, North Dakota

In a number of Iron Men Album magazines there have been pictures of harvesting grain with a header, like the one of September-October, 1961 issue, on page 14. The story with this picture said that it was not easy to handle that little guide wheel in the back. At one time I did run a header quite a bit and found that guiding ease depended a lot on how well the operator handled the horses. That eave it the balance it needed.

By the late 1930's and early 40's some grain farmers made heading grain a mechanized setup, which was called the header barge. This would make a complete stack at one time and it eliminated a lot of pitching, thus needing only three men to do the job. To this was coupled the header with braces and cables and became a one unit outfit with the fellow on the header not needing to guide the header, but to regulate the cutting height only.

This barge, built about like the many that were used, was about 10 feet wide in front and 12 feet wide in back, so that once the stack would start sliding out the sides then became free of friction and moved right on out. Also the bottom edge of the sides were tapered inward at an angle to expose less stack on the ground and to settle down better to shed rain by having a rounded top on it.

To unload the barge, the long elevator was pulled away from the barge by block and tackle. Then the gates were opened in the back and up front inside was a false end gate hooked to two cables running along side the stack out past the back and about 25 or 30 feet, fastened to a stationary object like a truck or stake in the ground that served as a dead man.

Then a good pull with the tractor the front end of the barge would tilt up on its axle and the stack would slide to the ground as the tractor kept pulling the barge out from under the stack. This operation was very simple to handle in the field or unloading, of course, the fellow in the barge did the only hard work there was. When the barge became quite full the tractor had quite a load up hill. One neighbor overcame this by having 2 horses hitched to the header and idle along with the outfit, when he came to a hill he made them tighten the tugs and help along. Another neighbor mounted a combine pick-up to the header platform and picked up windrowed hay and stacked it that way.

I guess farmers always are inventive minded and looking for better ways of doing things.