300 Leon Dr. Apt 4 Jonesboro, Louisiana 71251
On a trip to Peoria to the branch offices of machinery suppliers for repairs, we passed through the metropolis of Allenstown. Peoria was the capital for the industry for most brands you might wish to consider for purchasing parts, seek information, or just meet friends on a rainy or winter day, and a place to go.
We had noticed that threshing was about to commence. Dan apparently had made mental note of the location of the grove in the farm pasture, and by the time we returned, the work had begun.
The rig was a new ALL STEEL J. I. Case thresher. The Case people seem to have gotten the jump on competition again for the change from the wood thresher to all steel construction. They apparently had the desire to be number one in the industry while the competition mudded along with the wood separator.
Now the users weren't entirely sold on a steel thresher. The debates on which was the proper materials for the separator were almost ridiculous such as: 'There was no way to replace the exterior sheets without having special tools since the rivets had to be cut off and replaced in a field repair operation if either were rusted or worn. The noise factor when in use was almost unbearable for a human being to tolerate. The horses around the machine would be skittish and ready to run away whenever the slightest noise developed. They likened it to beating on a tin wash tub. The sun deflection would damage your eyes. The tin sheets could cause strange skin disorders (they had not known of AIDS at that time or skin cancer). They reasoned the wood used on the older models would absorb the sun rays, it had to be more pleasant to work around. So the dealers or company representatives had to take the new model to the users and prospects to encourage buying; this is what it was all about in those days.
The users were reluctant to purchase the new model. They could continue with the original model they had and it might have been paid for, and if not, at least wait until they could get the first purchase paid off. Then they could tolerate a pitch from a pushy salesman. We were about to see this new Case thresher, all steel machine, being demonstrated. We stumbled into an event.
However, the urge to inquire, be informed, or just plain being nosy to see what was going on prevailed.
We pulled to the side of the road and crawled through the fence, and in a few steps we were near the tractor furnishing the belt power, a newer J. I. Case Model L tractor. There was Mr. Arch who was the J. I. Case dealer in a nearby town, yes Dan knew him, why shouldn't he, they were stalwarts in their state association, the Illinois Brotherhood of Thresher men, who met annually in Peoria at the Jefferson Hotel. Yes, they were acquainted and perhaps respected each other as any good competitor did in those times.
As we neared the threshing rig there was a very obvious high pitched sound that other people wanted to ignore deliberately, but after a minimal exchange of greetings, Arch and Dan finally got down to facts of the day. Arch approached the subject with Dan, 'What the hell is that high pitched sound? I have checked everything on the separator and I can't find what is making it.' Now this was a rarity for an old hand such as Arch to solicit help in solving his own service problem. That was the attitude of the older thresher men. They took pride in working out their own problems and usually did not relish telling competitors how or why certain problems were solved. It was their copyright. They weren't about to give these learned secrets of their trade to some greenhorn or engineer fresh out of college. Let him get it the same way he did. He would dispense his knowledge of the secrets as he desired. But this was different. His new steel thresher was in jeopardy. After all, he came out to show and sell and it had to be a good show, for he was obligated to himself to make a good showing of his chosen work. And the equipment he was selling must be the premium piece of the demonstration. Maybe he panicked. It had to be taken care of NOW. The noise was loud enough to drive anyone to drink.
I don't remember that Dan studied the situation but a short time. His mental wheels must have been turning while greeting Arch, for at that instant, he turned to Arch and asked him for his old standby, 'a large pump oil can.'
Arch reached up on the tractor and handed him the oil can. Now Dan had a keen ear for troubles and he headed for the front of the feed table chain shaft bearings and pumped several healthy shots of oil at the bearings on the pipe shaft.
The noise was no more! Arch was a gentleman and gracefully thanked him, and they discussed it in detail. They both agreed, the factory engineers were at fault for using a steel pipe shaft in a cast bearing with no bushing or means of lubrication. Why didn't they just drill a hole in the cast bearing so oil could get to the shaft? Or better still, they sent a new Alemite grease gun in the tool box. They could have put in an Alemite fitting in the bearing or at least a cheaper setup with a Zerk fitting that would have cost less than anything an engineer would know about. These big companies should push the engineers off their soft chairs and make them come out in the field with these new machines. They put it on paper, but they never seem to want to know whether it will work or not. If they were here they would learn a thing or two from field experience. The companies pay them too much money anyway.
Well, we soon left the scene to get back to our own problems in our hometown and Arch was feeling better enjoying his show.
All apologies to the college engineers.