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Elmo Mahoney's threshing demonstration. A wonderful scene.
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A very good picture of Tom Mahoney and his Low Down feeder which he patented. See Marcus Leonard's article, A Successful Thresherman.
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A wonderful view of Tom Mahoney's Low Down feeder extension. See Marcus Leonard's article, A Successful Thresherman.
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Picture of a 1916 Osgood Steam Shovel Model 18 on traction wheels and being operated by William King of R. D. 1, Dillsburg, Pa. The truck is a 2 cylinder Otto with solid tires. Mr. King says there is no mall that comes to his box that is appreciated as mu
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Nichols & Shepard 163/850 side mount built in 1917 and is No. 13225 as it was driven in the Frontier Day Para de in Vicksburg, Mich. The man at the wheel is Ray Stowell and the other the owner, Robert Walters. Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Walters, 6164

Salina, Kansas

Jeremiah Mahoney, as the name implies, was an Irishman, born in
Erin on the ‘Emerald Isle,’ emigrated to the United States
about the time of the Civil War and served in the Union Army, from
New York. After the war, he and a few comrades founded a bakery
business in Chicago. Later, he sold his interest in the business,
went to Bunker Hill, Dussell County, Kansas and bought a farm, with
a house built of lime stone rock, quarried from the hills of the
Smoky Hill River. The house now stands north of highway No. 40,
midway between Bunker Hill and Dorrance. Jeremiah Mahoney lived on
that farm the remainder of his life and it was there his four sons,
Ed., Mark, John and Thos. E., the youngest, the subject of this
sketch, grew to manhood. He will be Tom Mahoney from here.

In the late 80’s and early 90’s, custom threshing was
considered a poor business because so many failed in it. For that
reason, Jeremiah Mahoney advised his sons not to buy a steam
thresher but they disregarded his advice and bought a Gaar-Scott
steam rig of Sam Roe, a local dealer. in 1889. Self feeders and
wind stackers were in the future. Mahoney Bros. did well that fall
and earned enough to pay for the machinery. They paid two-thirds of
it and bought land with the remainder. Their buying of land with
part of their earnings that year, continued to be the policy of
Mahoney Bros, and accounted for their large holdings of land in
Russell County.

Tom Mahoney, when on other business in Kansas City, called at
Avery Company’s Branch. The company quickly followed the lead
by sending Frank Averill, a high class salesman, to see Mahoney
Bros. and he sold them a complete Avery steam rig, in 1898. They
were so successful with it Tom Mahoney bought and operated nothing
but Avery machinery as long as Avery Company did business.

The sale proved a good one for Avery Company, not because the
machinery was paid for but what later resulted from it.

In 1899, Mahoney Bros, bought the second Avery return flue
engine and separator and operated two rigs- – two brothers being
with each rig. Tom Mahoney went to the factory in 1905 and bought
two 30hp. under mounted engines from the blue prints, the only
30’s built that year. The brothers operated two rigs a few
years longer and all but Tom, the mechanical end of the
combination, quit custom threshing.

Once, when questioned about the economy of an Avery under
mounted engine, Tom Mahoney said, ‘If it will only furnish me
the power to thresh, I will get water and coal to it’, and he

Tom Mahoney did more to build the enviable reputation of Avery
separators in central and western Kansas, than any other man. What
he did, had had its effect prior to 1903. The name Mahoney and what
he did with Avery machinery were heard in every ‘nook and
corner’ in central and western Kansas. Thousands of dollars
worth of business in central and western Kansas, later enjoyed by
the Avery Company, directly or indirectly, resulted from his
successful operation of Avery machinery and records.

J. B. Bartholomew, President of Avery Company, was known by the
employees of the company, customers and business world as ‘J.
B.’ and will be J. B. from here. He was a genius and a
practical machine man and for several years went into the fields
with Tom Mahoney, remaining for weeks to make observations and
decide upon changes and improvements. Many of the changes and
improvements on Avery separators, which were factors in making them
the cleanest, fastest threshers in headed grain ever built, were
suggested and made by Tom Mahoney.

Avery Company, because he believed it better and insisted upon
it, built him a 42-70, sixteen bar cylinder separator, with a
cylinder speed of 1000. The speed of the regular 12 bar cylinder
was from 1300 to 1350. With the 16 bar cylinder a larger drive
pulley was used, which greatly lessened the slippage of the drive
belt, especially with steam engines, separation at the cylinder was
greater and the concaves could be spaced to thresh tough wheat
better. Avery Company later built 16 bar cylinder separators on
special orders at an additional price of $75.00.

Tom Mahoney designed and patented a Low Down headed grain feeder
extension, which delivered the grain to the cylinder faster and
more evenly with less expense and hard work than with standard
extensions. Six men could pitch as much grain with the Low Down
extension as ten could with a standard extension, because the grain
was not carried the length of the stack and pitched down not up,
into a high carrier. Avery Company built and sold Mahoney Low Down
extensions with Avery machinery and to operators of other makes of

Tom Mahoney changed from steam to gas power in 1915 and bought a
40-80 Avery tractor. Oil trouble in earlier motors had been
overcome. The catalog speed of that motor was 500. The capacity of
a large Avery separator, in headed wheat, depended upon how much
power was belted to it. Tom Mahoney was a fast thresher and his
42-70 separator was a load for any engine. The tractor with the
motor at 500 did not pull the separator to satisfy Tom Mahoney and
he lost sleep trying to solve the problem. The reverse lever could
not be dropped down nor the safety valve set higher. He reasoned
the only way to increase the power of the motor was for it to fire
more often and did it by increasing the size of the drive pulley.
The pulley was increased enough to put the motor to 600 and it
pulled the separator to Tom Mahoney’s satisfaction. The motor
was balanced and no trouble developed from that speed. On the
Salina Block, nearly all 40-80 tractor motors, belted to 36-60
separators and larger were operated at 600 and did good work.

A successful operator of threshing machinery kept it in good
condition Tom Mahoney’s separator stood upon a cement floor in
a large shed, with a well equipped shop in the shed, near the
machinery. In the fall, after the season’s run, he worked on
the machinery until it was in good condition.

A good operator, when the wind blew too hard or it rained too
much to thresh, did not jump into the wagon, go to town, loaf in a
booze joint all day not sit at a poker table at night. Tom Mahoney
did none of those things but checked his machinery and when the
time came to thresh, no stops in the field were made to repair the

Tom Mahoney was one of the first operators in western Kansas to
furnish a full crew, pay and board them. For a number of years, the
men were paid by the day but later by the hundred bushels threshed
and were directly interested in what the machine threshed, as their
wages depended upon the bushels. A man who did not or could not do
his part, was weeded out’ by the other men. Tom Mahoney paid,
fed and treated his men well. They were allowed days off to rest
but were paid for full time and many of them returned year after
year. Much of Tom Mahoney’s success as an operator resulted
from his ability to handle his men.

Headed grain, in Kansas, generally was stacked with two long
narrow stacks in a setting, stood lengthwise, side by side, far
enough apart to drive a wagon and header barge be-between them. Tom
Mahoney educated patrons for whom he threshed year after year, to
set their stacks to save time. Stacks in large fields were in line
across the field. The machine began on the side away from the wind
and unless the wind changed, the row was threshed without turning
the machine. To save time, the separator, sometimes was coupled to
the front end of the engine and the engine backed from one setting
to another, saving the time of cutting the engine back to the
separator and into line.

Tom Mahoney carried an extra man, team and header barge, for
cleaning up. The machine pulled to the next set, when the stacks
were so nearly threshed, a fork full could not be gotten without
scratching and a waste of time. The man with the header barge
cleaned up what remained, hauled it to another set and pitched it
into the feeder with grain from the other stacks. Cleaning up was
done better and with less loss of time.

Many moves were made threshing headed grain and with a full crew
and high expense, it was important to move and set quickly. Every
man in Tom Mahoney’s crew had his place and was in it. Two men
were there with the belt, when the engine was in position, others
set the extension, wind stacker, climbed the stacks and within a
few minutes, the weigher was dumping so often, the spout carried a
solid stream of wheat.

Tom Mahoney threshed through the entire eras of steam and gas
power. In 1924, he threshed 100,000 bushels of wheat, with his
45-65 Avery tractor and 42-70 separator his last large run. For
years threshed, his average of 2900 bushels of wheat for 30 days
and more than a total of 2,000,000 bushels of wheat threshed, were
records, probably never equaled.

In 1924, when it became evident Avery Company would fail, J. B.
did not forget Tom Mahoney, with whom he, had gone into the fields,
his friend of many years and a faithful friend of Avery

J. B., a man of great ability and determination, had been
President of Avery Company since 1905 and under the guidance of his
indomitable spirit,

had seen the company grow into one of the largest and most
progressive threshing machine companies, envied and feared by other
company’s. He was president in 1914, 1915 and 1916, when
salesmen frantically wired and telephoned orders to Branches and
when full steam and gas rig orders, many for cash, one after
another, were lost because the factory could not build the
machinery. J. B. saw all that and all for which he had worked
nearly his entire life, lost, and with his great spirit crushed,
went to the quiet of Tom Mahoney’s home to rest and get away
from all of it.

Avery Company owed Tom Mahoney and when at Tom Mahoney’s, J.
B. told him, the company could not pay but had the parts to build a
separator and built 42-70, sixteen bar cylinder No. 20,092 for Tom
Mahoney–the last separator built by the old Avery Company.

In 1923 Tom Mahoney traded his 1915, 40-80 Avery tractor for a
45-65 Avery. The company changed oiling systems on those motors and
made a mistake. Bearing trouble developed in those motors.

J. B. shipped Tom Mahoney a new motor with the old type oiling
system and Avery separator No. 20,092 on the same car. The car was
set in Dorrance, the day before Avery Company went into
receivership and whatever the amount of Avery Company’s
indebtedness was, to Tom Mahoney, J. B. had paid it.

Elmo, the son of Tom Mahoney, has the 45-65 Avery tractor and
42-70, 16 bar cylinder Avery separator No. 20,092. Both are in good
condition and not for sale.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
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