If you wanted to embarrass and discredit yourself with the threshing gang, toss your pitchfork along with the grain bundle into the machine. The resulting clatter was the thresher trying to thresh the pitchfork. If it was a private rig, you had to face the wrath of the owner. This bungle could end the day's threshing activities while repairs were made. More rare was a crisis when the machine was started up for the day.
Charley was a custom thresher in northern Illinois during the 1930s. He was meticulous about having his equipment in top-notch condition. He took into consideration where the farmer wanted his straw pile, wind direction and wagon traffic. Using a carpenter's level, he made sure the machine was set exactly right. If a wheel was high, he dug a narrow trench ahead of it. He then rolled the machine into the trench. The process was repeated until everything was precisely correct.
Charley was equally careful about getting the drive belt lined up with the tractor. When all seemed to be in order, he would slowly release the clutch on the belt pulley until full rpm was reached. But on this particular day, there was a loud noise of something inside the late model Case separator.
He quickly shut down the Case tractor and ran to see what had happened. Looking into the machine, everything seemed to be okay. But when he looked on the ground under the blower pipe hood, he was startled to find the shredded remains of what used to be a fuel can.
Unfortunately for this ever-vigilant man, he had stored his empty fuel can inside the access door to the blower fan. With apologies to Aultman & Taylor, Charley was not the "Jolly Thresherman" that morning!