A Marshall Plan Massey

Dutch farmer remembers his first combine

| February 2005

As a subscriber to Farm Collector, I was pleased to see a picture of a 21A Massey Harris combine ("Prairie Star" November 2004, page 24). I would like to write about my memories of a 21A Massey combine. I am 75 years old, and as a retired farmer in Holland, I have many memories from the past.

After World War II, there was a lack of almost everything here. Our Farmall F20, equipped with a gas generator, was stolen by the Germans, as were most of our horses. Many farms were burnt down during the liberation, so crops could not be stored inside before threshing, as was the practice in Holland. Without buildings, farmers were desperate to obtain combines. Before the war, there were no combines here.

The first combine I ever saw was being used to harvest barley. It was an International Harvester pull-type with a Continental engine. Thanks to the Marshall Plan, more and more such machines came to Holland.

When farmers joined together, they could obtain a bigger machine, and this happened in our district. The government regulated the distribution of new equipment, because there was a huge demand and not enough machines. In our region, there was a used 21 Massey-Harris that was traded in for a newer unit. I bought the Massey from a dealer for a very low price. After thoroughly repairing it, I could harvest my own crop!

Operating the Massey was a Spartan doing, of course: It had no power steering and no hydraulics. The Massey had no auger. It used two (right and left) canvas conveyers that moved the crop after it was cut to the center upon another conveyer that moved it to the drum. It had a pick-up reel, adjustable only with right and left turnbuckles.

To raise and lower the platform was hard work. There was a big vertical hand wheel with a brake pedal to lift the platform. The brake pedal was used to prevent the platform from lowering after you had turned the wheel to raise it. Three heavy springs put the system in some kind of balance. A Massey 21A with a 6-volt electric lift was also available, but mine was operated by "elbow force."