In Search of the Pull-Type Gleaner Combine

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A photo of the pull-type Gleaner combine in the author’s possession.
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The irons at a right angle in front of the wheel show where the Ford Model T engine sat, with radiator and crank pointing outward.
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This photo shows the platform where the man stood to run the header lever.
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The lever used to lift the header is shown at top center of this photo. At bottom left is the Model T driveshaft; at bottom center, the chain that goes to the combine jackshaft.
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Gleaner postcard showing Fordson-mounted unit.

In my youth, my dad talked of the Fordson-mounted Gleaner combine he used in the 1930s. Later, going to old-time farm shows and swap meets, I talked to fellows from Kansas and Nebraska, where some of this stuff was still in groves, fencerows and collectors’ hands. That lasted until the scrap iron prices got high; now, little is left.

When a couple of my daughters married in the 1980s, one in north central Kansas and the other in southwest Kansas, that gave me a good excuse to get out that way to look into what could be discovered in Fordson-mounted Gleaners and parts.

I will have to give credit to another daughter and son-in-law who lived close by, and to my wife, who put up with this and kept the home fires going and saw that the chores were done on the farm. Nothing was like coming home late at night from one of these escapades, getting into bed, and hearing my wife say to me, “Which do you want to hear first: the good news or the bad news?”

Over the years, I did get to know a lot of interesting people, hear a lot of stories, see and find some interesting machinery (although some of it I did not realize what I was seeing until a lot later).

Powered by a Model T Ford Engine

There is one type of Gleaner combine I have not come up with much information on. They were the components of the 1926 Fordson-mounted Gleaner combine, minus the Fordson, mounted on an iron frame, with a tongue and a 3-inch pipe axle with 48-inch wheels to make it into a pull-type combine.

In where the Fordson tractor would have been, there was a platform that a man stood on to run the header lever. The frame had two 5-inch channel irons across the frame corresponding to where the mounting irons on the Fordson tractor would have been.

One of the wheels was under the bin where the left rear wheel of the Fordson was. The tongue was on the right side of the machine, completely outside of the separator unit, the right wheel being straddled by the two channel irons of the tongue.

To power the machine, a Ford Model T engine was used (though no engine was ever intact on the machines I saw). It would have had the transmission on it, with the full length driveshaft and housing extending under the feeder housing to where the belt pulley sprocket would have been on the Fordson, which had roller chain going to the jackshaft of the combine. A sprocket was welded right onto the Model T differential pinion gear!

The engine sat crosswise on the mountings on and over the tongue, protruding out more than the wheel. It must have been something to get through a 16-foot gate. The tongue hooked to the tractor drawbar; these did not have front truck wheels.

Working From Memory

I saw three of these machines in various stages of decomposition (farmers rob nice iron off has-been equipment). All of the machines I saw had 1926 Fordson-mounted-type Gleaners on them. These machines are not farmer- or blacksmith-made, as the ironwork is neatly done.

In fact, I bought one of these machines. I looked at it when I was on a trip and took some photos (poor and few). Later, I bought it over the phone, and the fellow took it apart and loaded it. A local trucker hauling on a highway project out that way hauled it back.

I never saw it together again, as I changed it back over to go on a Fordson tractor. The people I have talked to that knew of these machines had no answer as to where this attachment came from or who built it. So many of the people I talked to and got information from have passed on. Surely someone out there has a flyer and more information! 

Gleaner Postcard Shows Fordson-Mounted Unit

Some years back, I had access to this flyer, which I copied. It was about the size and weight of a double postcard. One side has testimonials dating to the summer of 1924. On the other side are the specifications of the Fordson-mounted Gleaner combine manufactured by Gleaner Mfg. Co., Wichita, Kansas.

The front right side image shows a Gleaner model dating to 1924, or possibly earlier. Each year the Fordson Gleaner was redesigned. Having worked on the 1925, 1926 and 1927 models, all having manufacturer’s serial number tags, I have seen the changes made each year. The separator unit in this image is quite different, having only one cleaning fan and a completely different arrangement to shake the grain-cleaning shoe. One of the drawings in patent no. 1,782,323 appears to have been drawn from this image. FC

Contact Richard Stout at 3105 Larch Ave., Washington, IA 52353.

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