Clarksville, Iowa, or 409 E. Harvard St., Apt 7, Glendale 5, Calif.
My experience in steam threshing started August 5,1896. I hauled water 41 days with a team of horses as tractors were used but very little at that time. This was in the days of hand feeding. A very few self feeders were used at that time because they were not perfected and were not very successful. After hauling water 41 days in 1896, one of the feeders quit and I took his place as I had learned to feed while hauling water. I fed a 34 x 50 inch Rumely Separator, powered by a 12 HP Rumely Engine for 40 days, making 81 days threshing in all in 1896. We finished the fourth day of December.
On December 3rd. a blustery snow storm came with a strong northwest wind. This filled the stacks full of snow and as the weather warmed up the next day, we were wet from head to foot from feeding by hand.
The next two or three years I hired out to feed at $1.50 per day and would thresh from 55 to 65 days. By this time the self feeders were improved and being put on some machines.
In 1898 I fed a 36' x 56' Advance Separator for 60 days, pulled with a 16 HP Advance Compound Engine. This machine was bought new the year before and had an advance self feeder on it, but was taken off in 1898 and fed by hand. Then it was put back on in 1899.
I hired out and worked at threshing 6 or 7 years. Then in 1903 I bought a three year old Port Huron Complete Outfit with a Pella attached swing stacker, made at Pella, Iowa and a Monarch self feeder made at Cedar Falls, Iowa. The engine was a 18 HP Compound, carrying 140 lbs. of pressure. I used this engine about 27 seasons, but only kept the separator 3 years then I bought a new Gaar Scott Separator and ran it many years. During that time I bought a 36' x 56' Red River Special which had been run 24 days. It was powered by a 22 HP Compound Minneapolis Engine, which was a return flue. Soon after I traded the old 18HP Port Huron for a 22x45 HP Twin City Gas Tractor which I never liked as it was too slow on the road and the bevel gear that drove the belt pulley was very noisy. I had been running two outfits for several years and finally found a 16 HP Compound Port Huron Steam Engine which had been used a few seasons. Then I bought a 32 x 52 Red River Special Separator with a Garden City feeder with a 14 ft. carrier.
I had traded the Minneapolis Engine in on a 19 HP Port Huron Compound and ran two complete outfits for 28 years, when the combines had taken a good share of the threshing and I sold the 32 x 52 separator and also sold the 16 HP engine and tank wagon to three different parties and continued to run the 19 HP Port Huron Engine and the 36 x 56 Red River Separator till August 24, 1950 when I finished my 55 years of threshing. My last 2 or 3 seasons threshing was only from 6 to 8 days run. I still have the 19 HP Longfellow and 36 x 56 Separator with 14 ft. Garden City feeder. They are both shedded in Clarksville, Iowa. The separator is ready to run any day and was always housed and canvassed nights while threshing. It also has a good set of belts.
I have had the whole outfit at a couple of centennials and operated it with separator belted at Clarksville and Allison, at the Butler County Fair Centennial.
At Allison I took off the grain spout and fastened it on the underside of the cross conveyor, then cut a 4x 10 inch hole in the side of the separator, directly over the sieve and ran the oats in above the sieve, using one bushel of oats, rotating it around from the weigher to the sieve, and during the show I tallied up 300 bushels, which was a pretty good yield from 1 bushel.
I want to mention one of the most peculiar breakdowns that I ever had or heard of while threshing. This happened one afternoon when the band on the left hand end of the cylinder broke and went out under the beater. It was bent in the shape of a hairpin. I was standing on the engine platform, looking right at the separator man at the time, who was standing on the separator just back of the cylinder. The clatterment was terrific. I instantly closed the throttle, hooked the reverse lever up on center and grabbed the clutch lever and pulled it on gradually. In a very few seconds I had the whole machine stopped without throwing any belts or doing any damage whatsoever. The broken band, bent like a hairpin, only got about 3 feet back of the beater. If I should have been on the ground or away from the engine, or if I had been inexperienced, the broken band may have got back to the blower fan and have done much more damage.
The noise was so loud that every team around the machine ran, but no damage was done by that. Now to the cause of the break. It was very easily understood after looking at the weld. It was welded by a blacksmith, no doubt, 50 years or more ago. The same as all wagon tires were welded at that time (lap welded) and the inner part of the lap, not being hot enough, never stuck and was black when it came into. The very out edge, about 1/16 of an inch, had stuck where it was last hammered and with years of use it wore thinner and finally gave way. As my other machine was pulling to the shed at this hour, I called them and had them pull over and finish the job. I pulled the machine home and at once loosened the feeder and took the cylinder out and took it to a blacksmith and he rounded the band and welded it, then heated it and drove it on as it was done years before.