THE IRON MEN in 1895

Nicholas and Shepard engine

Nicholas and Shepard outfit at work. Courtesy of R. Benjamin Hayes, Route 3, Homes, Michigan 49245

R. Benjamin Hayes

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R. 3, Homer, Michigan

This story is about some of my father's threshing machines. He had a 16 hp Advance Engine with the strait lugs on the drive wheels and a Rumely 34 x 54 Separator with web straw carrier and hand feed and weigher and bagger one of the first to have a weigher to weigh the grain around this part of the country.

As I was born May 10, 1891 I didn't get a chance to work much with that outfit.

My father's first outfit was a 10 hp Nichols and Shepard Traction Engine and a N & S Viberator Separator, hand feed and straw carrier and the Old Talley box, for measuring the grain.

I have most of my father's account books, as far back as 1890 where it referred to the threshing of grain at the price of 1-1/2 cents for oats and 2-1/2 cents for wheat and rye per bushel.

The prices for labor was from $1.00 to $1.50 per day and it wasn't just 8 hours - it was at least 10 hours and sometimes longer when they had to move at night to the next job, maybe 4 or 5 miles.

Also it shows where he sawed long polies into stovewood with his buzzsaw and 10 hp N & S Engine and (one man at $ 1.00 a day) team and tank wagon for the big price of $.50 per hour or $5.00 for 10 hours work. Remember this was in the 1890's not 1973.

Well I guess you old timers don't care too much about the Good Old Days some people tell about.

My father was Frederick B. Hayes born Feb. 2, 1859. He threshed for about 25 years. He also had a Reeves sawmill with cast iron husk and  Birdsell No. 1 clover huller and an Appleton 26 inch cut silo filler and 80 acres of land with house and barn and a little shop where he would shoe horses for his neighbors for only 50 cents for four shoes. He would go out in the spring and shear sheep for 3 cents to 5 cents per head.

Well I started to go threshing when I was 13 years old. Dad bought a new outfit that year, 1904 it was a 16 h.p. Reeves Cross-Compound Engine and a 30 x 46 Nichols and Shepard, with Feeder and Blower and weigher. Not very many had straw blowers, and I was the kid to tend the blower. Dad said that's a kid's job -just pull those ropes back and forth. One day I was sick and couldn't work. Well from there on they didn't say any more about that beings a kid's job. The next year I was 14 and I had learned a lot about operating the engine, so Dad said I could have the engine to take care of, and I did. It was a very nice engine to fire and operate. I had only one bad thing happen, I let the ashes fill up under the grates and melted them down. They were Rocker Grates -well, Dad didn't fire me. This is a true story about threshing oats fast for the size of the separator. The separator man was Floyd Stanham and he and I liked to see how quick we could set the machine and be threshing. Dad had a two-way level bolted on the frame of the Separator, so we had to have it right, or else.

Well, we were about an hour late getting to this little jobs of oats. They had all the loads, loaded. It was one of those years when the oats didn't get very tall, the bundles were about 18 inches long, but the oats were well headed and very heavy. As we pulled in from the road I looked at my watch, it was about 8 rods back to the field, and in just 1 hour and 18 minutes we were out in the road again and the tally said 528 bushels.

Well about 1908 Dad traded his 16 hp Reeves for a 20 hp Reeves Cross Compound. I will send some pictures of it, the next time if this doesn't end up in the waste-paper box.