A HISTORY OF THE NICHOLS & SHEPARD COMPANY

By Han J. and ersen
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N & S rear mounted double cylinder straw burner. 1921 model.
2 / 4
N & S return flue straw burner traction with self guide of 1885.
3 / 4
N & S 35 hp gas tractor. 1913 model.
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An early vibrator thresher of the N & S Company

Edwin C. Nichol became president of the company when his father
passed away in 1891 at the age of 77.

During the eighteen nineties self-feeders, weighers, baggers,
loaders and wind stackers were developed. Nichols & Shepard
were among the first companies to use the ‘Farmer’s
Friend’ stacker, they also used the Nethery and See burn before
finally adopting the Gearless.

Their engines were improved by changing the steering from left
to right handed or flywheel side and the use of the friction
clutch.

Woolf Compound cylinders were introduced in 1896 and applied to
both their direct and return flue boilers. They were built-until
1904.

The beginning of the century saw the first of their 16 bar
cylinder threshing machines being tried in the vast grain fields of
the Red River Valley. As a result of the wonderful work these
machines performed they became known as the ‘Red River
Special’, and were soon one of the most popular machines in the
country.

Universal type boilers mounted with Corliss guide engines were
the beginning of a new line of engines capable of burning coal,
wood or straw. By 1902 this new line had eliminated all other types
built by the company.

Double cylinder engines were brought out in 1904, in sizes 18
and 25 horse, of a pattern similar to their single cylinder
engines.

David Shepard passed away in 1904 at the age of 84, having been
vice-president of he company till then.

A line of improved double cylinder engines were commenced in
1905 ranging in size from 13 horse to heavy plow engines of 25, 30
and 35 horse. The 35 horse power size was one of the larger
traction engines built expressly for plowing, its drive wheels
being 87 inches in diameter with a 32 inch face.

Nichols & Shepard Company entered the large tractor field in
1912 just as it was fading out, which perhaps accounts for the fact
that they were not too widely used. Their first model was a 35-70
horse size, followed by a 22-42 (later 25-50) and then an 18-36
(later 20-42).

In 1914 double cylinder rear mounted engines made their
appearance in a 25 horse size. Afterward 20 and 16 horse sizes were
added. The side mounted doubles were dropped from the line shortly
thereafter.

Red River Special threshing machines were now being built in
sizes up to 44×64 and were still one of the most popular built in
this country.

After World War I the trend was toward the use of sheet steel in
the construction of farm machinery and so the Red River Special was
given a galvanized steel housing in place of the time honored wood
painted red with green sills, striped and transferred to suit even
the most particular.

This era also brought an end to the heavy tractor for threshing
and farm use so Nichols & Shepard supplied Allis-Chalmers and
later Lauson tractors with their threshers.

Combines and corn pickers were added to the line and provided
the main portion of the plant production when Nichols & Shepard
was absorbed by the Oliver merger in 1929.

Presumably the name Nichols & Shepard will disappear as that
of Oliver dominates in their modern advertising, but only death can
erase the fond memories of the old timers who used the machinery
carrying the names NICHOLS & SHEPARD.

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