Gumming and Filing Machine Solved Cotton Gin Problem

John R. Smith’s Tri-Plex combined cotton gin saw gumming and filing machine improved the efficiency of early cotton gins.

| May 2019

The gumming and filing machine.

The Industrial Revolution caused extensive social change during the period from the latter half of the 18th century through the first half of the 19th century. There was a shift from a rural economy to an urban one, small family-run shops gave way to large corporate entities, hand labor was mechanized, and the overall production of goods increased dramatically.

These societal changes began in Great Britain with the textile industry, primarily with the spinning and weaving of cotton fibers into cloth for use locally and abroad.

Great Britain could not grow enough cotton to support this burgeoning industry and raw cotton was imported from a number of countries, with the U.S. being one of the major sources. Seeds had to be separated from the soft fibers before the cotton could be carded and spun into a usable product.

This was relatively easy with the long-staple cotton grown along the coast in the U.S. However, a much more difficult and tedious process was required to remove the sticky seeds from the short-staple cotton grown upland. This work was usually performed by slaves. As the demand for cotton increased, it had the consequential result of promoting slavery.

Evolution of the cotton gin

Eli Whitney (1765-1825) is usually credited with inventing the cotton gin (“gin” being abbreviated from “engine”). When cotton was run through Whitney’s machine, hooks mounted on a wooden drum pulled the fibers through a mesh that was too fine to admit the seeds. A rotating “doffing” brush removed loose fibers from the hooks.


Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

Save Even More Money with our SQUARE-DEAL Plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our SQUARE-DEAL automatic renewal savings plan. You'll get 12 issues of Farm Collector for only $24.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of Farm Collector for just $29.95.

Facebook Pinterest YouTube