22,23 B Avenue N. E., Cedar Rapids, Iowa
THE SET UP
Before pulling the separator in between four conical beehive shaped stocks of grain, the separator man tosses a handful of chaff into the air to see which way the wind blows. It is preferable to have the wind from the side or front to coming from the straw carrier end. A tail wind blows the chaff and dust back over the separator, the workmen the wag-on of threshed grain and is an all around disagreeable position to be avoided is possible.
The separator is now pulled in between the beehive stacks of grain. A hasty survey of the lay of the land shows the experienced eye what wheels must be lowered to make the separator stand level. This is quite necessary in order for smooth operation of the machine and to avoid the threshed grain from blowing; by the fan over into the straw carrier. The dirt is removed in front of the high wheels and the team eases the separator forward into position. A hasty chock is made by using the level to verify workmanship of setting her level the separator is feminine gender.
The straw carrier that is hinged about the middle and bent back over the rear of the separator, is straightened out; the rear end elevated about six feet, the well of slats that carries the straw are buckled up to the 'right position; the belts are all put on their respective pulleys; the sieves changed if need be, and likewise the concaves.
In front, the tables on which the bundles are to be tossed, and the plat form on which the feeder and two band cutters stand are put in their respective positions; the feeding board is set at proper slant, the cylinders turned by hand to see there is no collision between its teeth aid those in the concaves below; the talley tox is set at naught and the half bushel measure put under the the same. The oil can then goes into action with special care to fill the oil cup on each side of the cylinder for here is where you may expect 'a hot box'.
While this was going on the trap-wagon was being unloaded of tumbling rods, knuckles, a jack, sweeps, equalizing rods, stakers, sledge hammers, and braces for the horse power. The tumbling rods are lined up with the gear on the cylinder and connected by the flexible knuckles with the gears of the horse power that has been pulled into position.
Thump, thump, thump comes the sound from the synchronizing blows of two 16 pound sledge hammers as they drive the iron bounded wooden stakes into the ground to anchor the horse power; the inner end of each sweep is put in its respective socket on the bull wheel; the equalizing rods hooked to the chain running through the pulley on the outer end of the sweep and this end of the setup is ready for the teams to be hitched. Soon that is done and they are ready to pursue their circuitous course.
Men, by the aid of three tined pitch forks, have climbed up to the tops of the stacks of grain where they stand on one foot and one knee poised with a bundle to throw when the signal is given.
The man of the hour now mounts the feeder's platform, ties a. red bandanna handkerchief around his neck, puts on a pair of dust goggles, a. pair of well oiled gloves; and looking over the side of the separator to see that the talley-man is ready, and lastly, like an orchestra leader, faces the man on the horse power, raises his right hand, cuts a semi-circle in the air and yells, 'Let 'em roll.'
The driver gives the well known thresher's whistle, well known to the horses in a short time too, swings his whip at the end of a long fish pole like a whip-stock; the chains running through the pulleys at the end of each sweep is stretched straight as each team begins its circuitous journey leaning into their leather collars and the dust and noise begin to rise.
The gearing on the separator, driven by tumbling rods, which in turn are driven by the horse power, starts off with a lot of bull dog growl, rises in pitch as the speed of the horse power is accelerated. The man who is now ready to feed in the grain, judges the entire ensemble is in tune and ready for all the workmen to begin their parts.
The bands on the bundle tables have been cut, so he reaches out to the right, draws one or two over in front of the revolving cylinder, now clipping off at the rate of speed that makes the teeth invisible, tosses the butts of the. bundles slightly up and across the cylinder and in the meantime draws in from the left side more bundles, and thus from right to left he moves and fans out the bundles as they are drawn in by the cylinder. There is a skill in the feeding operation not easily described or acquired.
The threshing ensemble is a superb example of cooperative activity of a neighborhood, and includes the women, who prepare the meals for the gang. Here there is no evidence of social inequality, national prejudices, for the 'gang' may be made up, as after the case out on the prairie, of Irish, Dutch, Dane, German, Swede, Norwegian, English and Yanks.
Work is exchanged between these groups. Here they learn to work together, and since they wash together, wipe together, eat together, they make friend Ships that last forever.
The scene of this threshing was within a radius of fifteen miles, with some variation as to kind of grain, whether stacked or in the shock.
THE THRESHING MACHINES
The threshing machine was a J. I. Case 32 inch cylinder and 10 horsepower, or the 36 inch cylinder and 12 horse power. A rattlin' good and efficient ma chine all of the min their day. It surpassed the old Buffalo-Pitts operated by Ben Long at one time, and just as good as the Aultman-Taylor owned and operated by John McDermott, and just as many roosters starved by depending on the grain left in the straw stack. A plaque of a bedraggled, poorly feathered, half starved rooster was fastened on the side of the Aultman-Taylor separator as emblematic of the thoroughness with which the machine separated the grain from the straw.
There was the marathon run of the big 36' J. I. Case, 2000 bushels of oats between sunrise and sunset, and an other marathon run of the smaller 32' J. I. Case of 1500 bushels of oats in one day.
The invasion of the Aultman-Taylor in Moville township by a neighbor deprived us of the local monopoly and reduced the threshing price pen bushel: Wheat from 4 cents to 3 cents; Oats from 3 cents to 2 cents; and Flax from 8 cents to 6 cents. (Threshers didn't use fractions.,
The operators of the J. I. C's. might have been any three or four of the following: The Smith brothers, Frank, Joe and Edthis in the order of age and seniority of threshing experience; Mike Haley, Joe Parker; Frank Andrews, Elmer Bloomer, .Joe Robb, Isaac Leviness, Byron Graham.
We threshed far out upon the prairie and around the rim of the horizon. Small grain was easily grown on the new fertile prairie land: the yield was abundant The. principal small grain crops were in about this order of acreage: oats, spring wheat, flax, barley, rye and timothy. Clover had not yet arrived on the prairie. Many an acre of flax was grown on the prairie sod the .same spring; the land was broken.
During- the threshing- season Ions lines of teams waited at the elevators at Kingsley, Iowa, to weigh in and unload. This shows also the urgent need of the prairie grain farmer for cash. The threshing season extended until snow fell, and sometimes later. Then we finished husking our corn in the spring. Gone are, the threshing days of yore but their melodies (?) linger on.
Here is a unique arrangement for making an engine work. It was used at the Rough and Tumble Engineer Reunion in 1351. It is a Groton engine running a dead Case. The Case was reversed and the live engine pumped the dead one full of air. When the air pressure in the dead engine got within 15 or 20 lbs., of the steam pressure of the live engine there was plenty of 'barking.' It did not prove a thing but it was a lot of fun. That Groton engine was acclaimed by many to be the nicest handling engine of the bunch