The history of American makes of engines and threshers

Spur geared traction

N & S 1880 spur geared traction. Horse steered and wooden wheels.

E. R. Potter

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Therefore, in 1867, H. H. Taylor and C. Aultman formed a new company and set up a factory at Mansfield, Ohio to build vibrating thresh machines under license from Nichols & Shepard. Both of the Nichols and David Shepard were stockholders in this new company.

By 1870 the new vibrating type threshing machines, built only by a few companies, were gaining popularity over the apron type. This was especially true where the threshing machines were being driven by steam power as they seemed to operate easier and could thresh faster. The builders of apron machines battled them with everything in their power but by the end of the decade had to concede defeat. Most of the prominent companies had taken up the manufacture of a vibrator or other rack type machine.

To conform with newly passed laws the partnership was incorporated in 1871 under the name of Nichols, Shepard & Company.

For many years they had been calling their threshing machines the 'VIBRATOR', finally in 1874 they claimed originality and had the name registered in the Patent Office. Many attempted to infringe upon it.

The Nichols, both father and son, as well as David Shepard were ardent sportsmen and enjoyed hunting and fishing in northern Michigan with their friends and associates, including their partner and competitor, Cornelius Aultman. This interest in sports perhaps accounts for the choice deer head as the trade mark for the products of the company. For many years their engines and threshing machinery were adorned by the head of a ten point buck.

Portable engines had been sold by the company for a number of years to go with their threshing machines, but not until 1877 did they undertake to build them. Having always relied upon eastern engine and boiler builders to supply them.

The popularity of steam power was on the ascent, a few companies were already building tractions. The C&G Cooper & Company of Mount Vernon, Ohio, had patents on a traction attachment to be fitted to portable engines, which were proving popular. The Nichols, Shepard Company furnished these traction attachments on a number of their engines built during 1878-1879.

During 1880 they brought out the first all spur gear traction engine of their own design. This was equipped with a single cylinder, bar guide engine, no reverse gear, no friction clutch and was horse guided.

The following year the Marsh reverse was added, followed by the hand guide in 1883, giving them a full independent traction engine.

Attempts were made to provide straw burning attachments for their locomotive boilered engine but without particular success, therefore, in 1885 they came out with a drop-fire box return flue boiler traction engine of 13 horsepower.

The year 1886 saw the firm re-incorporated as the Nichols & Shepard Company. It had now grown to be one of the larger builders of threshing machinery in this country, being capitalized for a million dollars. Also came the first of their new threshing machines, which were known as the 'Flagg' vibrator, having been designed by one Eli Flagg, one of their threshing machine experts.

By 1886 the new 'Flagg' vibrator had proven successful enough to eliminate the old lifting finger vibrator from the line.

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