Goderich, Ontario, Can. THE ‘GOODISON’ MACHINERY
John McCloskey was born in Ireland in 1847. At the age of
seventeen he came to Canada along with his parents three sisters
and five brothers. The family located in the bush near the tiny
settlement of Old castle, about eleven miles from the present city
of Windsor, Ontario. Here the parents and younger children
immediately began the task of clearing the land and building
a home while the older boys, who were trained mechanics,
established a small carriage factory in the village.
In this shop John learned the trade of carriage maker and being
mechanically minded he soon became an excellent workman and
experienced no difficulty in finding employment wherever he went.
While working in the Macpherson factory in Fingal. Ontario, he
became deeply interested in threshing machinery and noting the
problems facing the manufacturers of the new type vibrating
machines that were replacing the older apron or canvass separators,
he thought out a plan of balancing the motion of the straw deck and
the grain shoe by means of a double throw crank shaft and
constructed a working model which proved that he had discovered a
solution to the problem of balance.
John McCloskey had his invention patented in 1881 and the London
firm of Stevens, Turner and Burns began building the new machines
for him and marketed them as the ‘Canadian Thresher.’ Four
years later the royalty rights were acquired by David Darvil and
Company of London, Ontario, who manufactured them as the.
‘McCloskey Thresher.’ Later still the Waterloo
Manufacturing Co., built them for a short time as the
While John McCloskey was busy in London supervising the building
of the McCloskey separators and improving them with additional
patents another threshing machine company was developing at Sarnia,
Ontario. Here the council of the fast growing border town were
looking around for industries and, in 1851, induced J. F. Craig,
who had been endeavoring to establish an agricultural implement
factory in Strathroy, to move his works to Sarnia. Known as the
Sarnia Agricultural Tmpleniient Association the new firm mide
reapers, mowers, ploughs, corn shellers, etc. Its products were
favorably received and for a few years the firm prospered.
Ill-advised expansion in 1884 and an attempt to build and market
binders forced the company into liquidation in 1856. The following
year John Goodison, who had been general agent for the company,
together with Geo. H. Samis purchased the interests and factory of
the insolvent company and operated for a year, but under adverse
circumstances, and were glad to enter into negotations with the
Sawyer and Massey Company of Hamilton, Ontario, for the sale of
their interests. Operations were continued as usual and John
Goodison was retained as manager by the Hamilton firm.
John Goodison was not satisfied with the new arrangement and
late in 1889 acquired sole ownership of the concern. The days of
Sawyer and Massey control convinced him of the future of the
threshing machine industry and he wisely abandoned the manufacture
of reapers and ploughs and concentrated on threshing machinery. For
a while he called his factory the Tunnel City Thresher Works but
soon changed it to the John Goodlison Thresher Company. Meanwhile,
the fame of the McCloskey thresher was spreading and in 1892 Mr.
Goodison acquired the right to build these machines and persuaded
John McCloskey to move to Sarnia and work in his factory. The years
that, followed saw the firm prospering and soon the Goodison
‘New McCloskey’ threshers were favorably known throughout
both Eastern and Western Canada.
As the years parsed the New McCloskey machines were fitted with
the latest attachments. The Goodison firm was one of the earliest
of Canadian manufacturers to build wind stackers. At the turn of
the century they were fitting to their own and other makes of
separators the Russel gear driven stacker. This was replaced about
1804 with the standard ‘Farmer’s Friend’ type of
gearless, direct belted side-stacker. In 1902 double decks replaced
the tail rakes. Farly self feeders were the Parsons, followed by
the Goodison Rich, the Ruth and finally the Goodison Heinke. The
Stewart pat-ent rear cutting attachment was sup-plied for Eastern
customers. In. the early 1920’s steel for frames was
experimental with and by 1926 had completely re-placed wood. The
next improvement was the gradual adoption of self aligning, dust
proof ball bearings until the whole machine was so equipped.
Mounted on rubber the late Goodisons looked much different to the
early machines but in-side doing the job of actual separation was
the counterbalance motion invented by John McCloskey.
The big Radio Three. On Thursday of the Pontiac Meeting a half
hour radio program was produced. It was Arthur Page’s
‘Dinner Bell’ program. The whistles of the fifty some
engines were hurled across the country within the range of radio
station WLS. These gentlemen are, reading from left to right–Dr.
Holland, famous radio minister and writer; Art Page, who originates
the program; and Dan Zehr President of the Association. Photo by
Leo R. Clark, Washington, III.
John McCloskey died of pneumonia in 1902 at. the early age of
fifty-five leaving behind in his workshop several uncompleted
models of inventions he had been working on. John Goodison died in
1915. The. firm, now known as Goodison Indusitries Limited, is
still headed by the third generation of the Goodison family.
The Goodison firm built no engine in the early days but supplied
customers for complete outfits with the Waterous 17 H.P.
‘Ontario Standard’ single cylinder engines for the east and
the heavier double cylinder models for Western Canada. In 1902 they
began to build a
few portable. engines in their own factory and two years later
entered the traction field. By this time the experimental stage was
over and the firm settled on the open bottom locomotive type boiler
with high dome. Solid stub axles and heavy counter shaft bracket
were bolted to the firebox and a side crank engine was mounted with
the cylinder towards the smokebox. The Woolf single eccentric
reverse gear was adopted and a lever controlled brake acted on a
large drum cast on the inside of the intermediate gear. The clutch
was internal expanding with two large metal shoes.
Only single cylinder, side mounted engines were built and the
original design was never changed. In 1916 the Watson horizontal
governor was adopted and late models had patent adjustable exhaust
nozzles. Two injectors were standard equipment. Early engines were
rated at 18 H.P. A few 25 H.P. engines were supplied to customers
who did sawmill work in addition to threshing but the
9’xl0′ cylinder engine, rated at 22 H.P. with high pressure
boiler, was the standard engine built for many years. The last new
engine was built in 1927. The firm had a novel way of numbering
their engines. The last number indicated the number of engines
built in the year indicated by the first numbers thus. Engine No.
1823 was the 23rd engine built in 1918.
The first boilers used on Goodison engines were built by The
Waterous Engine Works in Brantford. In later years The Sawyer
Massey Company of Hamilton made boiler for them. Although Goodison
machinery was extensively used in Western Canada the company never
established a western branch. They did, however, establish sales
agencies in the United States and possibly sold more machines than
any other Canadian threshing machine company.
In 1920 Goodisons began selling Hart Parr gas tractors and after
the big merger of 1928 became Canadian distributor of Oliver
tractors and equipment. The expanding oil industry in Sarnia badly
needed the adjacent Goodison property In consequence, the firm have
given up the manufacture of separators and, this year, moved to a
new location near Toronto, Ontario. Thus, another well known make
of threshing machinery is passing into history.
Old Engine No 2602, one of the last built by Goodisons, is still
used by its owner for his individual threshing. Admittedly, not as
attractive and pretty as she once was, but still full of pep and
with a cheery whistle that attracts more admirers than when she was
20 hp Stevens owned by Mr. J. D. Roberts of McLean, III.
Operated by Miss Jean Roberts while her father looks on. Or maybe
at. That is both a rare and beautiful piece of machinery. We
purposely show this side of the engine to have you see the
unusually large intermediate gear the Stevens Company used. Clark
Studios, Washington, III.