A THRESHER MAN FROM TEXAS

By Staff
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With my mobile cook shack in the background. Left to right, James Sharp, Mrs. R. A. Whisenhunt, Ellen Balch Cooks, Mrs. Joe Milner, Mr. Joe Milner, We were threshing for July 1939.
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Crews like this is what made threshing a pleasure, 1941. Back left to right: GradyHollins worth, Sam Pruitt, W. D. Tharp, Johnnie Watson, Hugh Epps. Front, kneeling, Cecil Williams S. T. Watson, Troy Whisenhunt, Loyd Homers tad and Douglas Whisenhunt.
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Here is a picture of my father's threshing machine and Bertsell engine taken in 1906. He did custom threshing with this rig around Kewaskum, Wisconsin for about 10 years, from 1905 to 1915.
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Howard Shaw of Grand Blanc, Michigan and his 10 ton Kelly Springfield Roller.

Part Three

The 1730 I might say I grew up with it as I was only 16 years of
age when it was new and I have spent the remainder of my life with
it. It is a cross mounted four cylinder4 7/8 inch bore with 7 in.
stroke with a governed speed of 825 rpm, which made it an ideal
tractor for belt work. It was built on the unit principal with all
parts very accessible with removable sleeves. Lubrication was
mechanical pump with splash. Its cooling system was tubilar
radiator with fan and centrifugal pump with a capacity of 31 gal.
per minute radiator capacity 8 gallons. The clutch was multiple
disc in belt pulley. The ignition system was Bosch high tension
Magneto. The governor was fly ball type and the most sensitive I
ever saw on a tractor. I kept this tractor in the best of condition
which wasn’t hard to do. It never did let me down so why
wouldn’t I keep it.

I mentioned earlier in this article of a man I would mention
later. I would not want to write without paying tribute to one of
the best friends I ever had. He had a lot to do with this article
as I couldn’t of kept my machinery going without his help. He
was the late Alfred Canutson of Clifton, Texas who operated a
modern machine shop there. He had helped me when I was a kid on
such projects as a power sausage mill I devised to run with a
single cylinder gasoline engine and a ice cream freezer to be run
with power and many other things. He was not only the best workman
as a machinist and welder that I ever had the pleasure of knowing
but was one of the best men I knew. He was never too busy to stop
and work on a threshing machine. It seemed that it was a pleasure
for him to get out of bed at night and help you.

He was of Norwegian descent and they in my opinion are the
finest people in the world. He helped me with all my troubles, if I
come up with an idea he would have a better one. It broke his heart
when I bought the Case separator. He was a Minneapolis man. The
only time I ever got ahead of him on anything was on the 1730. If
it had a weakness it was its cooling system. The fan was driven off
the auxiliary shaft by bevel gears by a flat belt off a pulley
about 7 in diameter that drove the fan pulley which was about 3 in
diameter. As long as the flat belt was tight and no grease got on
it there was no slipage. It run cool. It had a good way of
tightening the belt but by having a tight belt it was hard on the
bearings and could cut the bevel gears out. I had the idea that if
I had a double vee belt on it would stop the trouble. I went down
and asked Canuteson if he could order me two double grooved pulleys
that would run the fan a good bit faster. He shook his head and
said he didn’t think that would help. I went on but later went
back and brought the subject up with him again. He still seemed to
think that my idea wasn’t worthwhile. I related to him that I
thought to run the fan faster wouldn’t hurt anything as it was
on a straight shaft and with the vee belts there would be very
little slippage and if he wasn’t going to get them I was going
to try to get them else-where. He said if I just had to have them
he would just make them. He could make better ones then we could
buy. They made the best pair of pulleys I ever saw. Now you wonder
if they worked. There were several 1730 Minneapolis tractors in
that area and it wasn’t long till they all were equipped with
vee fan belts.

The first thing in operating a threshing machine successful is
your machine has to run as near perfect as possible. Next your crew
has to be good. It makes no difference how good your machinery is
if your men don’t work to keep it at full capacity. I was lucky
i n having some of the finest crews in the area especially before
world war twol I hired the best I could get, most of them local and
on the runif one give trouble he didn’t stay around long.

The old saying the way to a man’s heart is through his
stomach is true. A working man has to eat. I was blessed with good
cooks, all ladies, one chief cook and a helper. I would turn all
the buying of groceries over to them. I had a Mobile cook shack,
self propelled, built on a truck with a Delco Light plant trailed
behind.

We didn’t have R. E. A. them days. Later I had butane gas in
it. I want to mention some of my cooks, Mrs. R. A. Whisenhunt, Miss
Ellen Balch, Mrs. L. D. Humes, Mrs. Earl Blankenship, Mrs. W. P.
Voss, Mrs. Luther Briazill, Mrs. D. Riddle, Mrs. Marvin Dollins,
and others.

I never attempted to operate my machinery by myself. I always
had a experienced helper, W. P. Buddy Voss, a neighbor and customer
and deer hunting companion was with me most of the time. D. J.
Curley Thomas an old retired thresherman of the steam engine days,
whose father before him was a thresherman, helped me out some. We
supervised our separator constantly and was always finding
something out of adjustment. Now days the combine operator climbs
aboard his 14 foot self propelled with one object in mind, 50 acres
per day result green fields in the fall.

The men on this picture were (left to right) Fred Schultz, Bill
Schmidt, Joe Tuech, John Kocher and William Bartelt in front.

I always was mechanical minded and studied nothing else but I
will have to tip my hat to the old wagon and team for getting grain
to a separator. We used ten wagons and teams in this part of Texas
for a 28 inch machine with one man to the wagon. He loaded and fed
off at the separator. After everyone went to using tractors in the
early forties, of course, we had to quit the teams. I got the idea
of building big wagons. I built five-some on old separator wheels.
They would haul a mighty load. They were twenty feet long by eight
feet wide with two men on each. It just wasn’t like the wagon
and teams.

Back 25 to 30 years ago the boys grew up with the idea of
getting to go with the thresher. They wanted to see who could make
the best hand. The boys of today would frown at the thought of
it.

It is a pleasure to recall my threshing experiences. I once had
a whole crew of wagon boysten of them out of three families.

My all time crew of wagon men is this picture of the 1941
season. They were as good as could be found. Like the four Horsemen
of Notre Dame they had worked together so much and understood each
other so well that they just didn’t make mistakes. They were
Grady Hollinsworth, Sam Pruitt, W. D. Tharp, Johnnie Watson, Hugh
Epps, Cecil Williams, S. T. Watson, Troy Whisenhunt, Lloyd
Homerstad, and Douglas Whisenhunt. All of them are still living.
Some not so far away. I plan on having a reunion some day and take
another picture of them and see how they look after 22 years.
I’ll bet they wouldn’t want to thresh.

Some years after we would finish our run around Turnersville we
would make a run over in the next community. It was a Norwegian
settlement. Some of the old timers had been born in Norway. They
are the finest people in the world. They had customs different to
the people in our community. They were good grain raisers. They had
their own company thresher and operated it themselves and paid
dividens where we run independent in our part of the country and
the machines and equipment was owned by individuals like
myself.

In later years they got to hiring independents from up in our
country to come in and help them out especially when world war two
was approaching and labor got scarce.

For a rig from our part of the country to get to go over there
after finishing its run at home was like a college football team
getting to go to a bowl game. It not only was like going to another
country but added several dollars to their pay roll. The boys would
work to get to go. We made it four times 1938 and l940, 1941 and
1943. It was a custom after a run to have a picnic for all the boys
that had made the run and their families and the customers that we
had threshed for. Sometimes there would be as many as two hundred
present. We would take the cook shack over to the Leon River, about
ten miles distant, and with the light plant light up the camp
ground and swimming hole. I always had barbeque. The cooks would
prepare a meal and the ladies would bring pies and cakes. A royal
feast we would have. Everybody brought their bed rolls and spent
the night.

Them days are gone for ever but they were enjoyable even if
there was a lot of hard work to it. I don’t think it hurt any
of us.

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