The Watford Corn Sheller

Canadian-built corn sheller showcases several unique features, including wood frame construction and an unusual flywheel configuration.

| August 2017

  • The Watford sheller.
    Photo by Dutch deHaan
  • The Watford’s entry chute. The sheller’s second flywheel is just visible at the right.
    Photo by Dutch deHaan
  • Thomas Doherty.
    Photo courtesy Lambton Heritage Museum; Grand Bend; Ontario; Canada
  • One view of the sheller’s wishbone eccentric.
    Photo by Dutch deHaan
  • Another view of the sheller’s wishbone eccentric.
    Photo by Dutch deHaan
  • The Watford’s unique spring mechanism.
    Photo by Dutch deHaan
  • The sheller’s cob outlet.
    Photo by Dutch deHaan

While attending the annual Portland, Indiana, engine show several years ago, I visited with a fellow corn sheller enthusiast. This gentleman was a very serious corn sheller collector and quite the resource. He suggested that I take a look at a one-hole sheller he had brought along as a candidate for future restoration. While it appeared mechanically complete, it did have some serious structural problems. I asked him just who made such an unusual machine, and he replied, “It’s a Watford!”

The Watford was unlike any sheller I had seen. The input power was designed to be a one-man crank input. That was where all the similarities to common corn shellers of the period came to an abrupt end.

First, a bit of background on the famous inventor and businessman, Thomas Doherty. Born in 1843 in Lanark County, Canada West, Thomas was the youngest child of James and Rachel (Garrett) Doherty. His formal education ended in 1857. He married in 1864 and spent the next several years running the family farm.

Doherty showed inherent mechanical aptitude early. He started with a small machinery repair shop on the farm. He also became an accomplished thresherman and mastered the internal workings of the machine. In 1875, enticed by free land, he moved his family to Watford, Ontario, Canada, where he intended to establish a business.

Watford was first settled in 1851 at what was known as Brown’s Corners, a stagecoach stop between the village of Warwick and Brooke Township. The Great Western Railway, built in 1856, caused the settlement to be relocated near the tracks in its present location. It was incorporated as the village of Watford in 1873.

Doherty founded Watford Agricultural Implement Works (WAIW) in Watford in 1875. The business provided a large and diverse line of products and a repair service. WAIW grew significantly over the next five years. With continued growth, in 1882 Doherty took on a partner.

Victor Farm Machinery
4/15/2018 9:40:25 PM

this is hand crank type.but now electric corn sheller is more and more populare which saves energy


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 $29.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of Farm Collector for just $34.95.

Facebook Pinterest YouTube