Clash of the Steam Threshers

In 1871, Aultman & Taylor's vibrating steam threshers contended for the Pitts' crown.

| January/February 2003



While reading through the June 1871 issue of a journal entitled The Bureau: Devoted to the Commerce, Manufactures and General Industries of the United States, I found an article on page 508 on the 'new' Aultman & Taylor vibrating thresher, which eventually eclipsed the Pitts endless-apron style of threshing machine. On page 499 was an advertisement for the Aultman & Taylor, and on page 535 appeared an advertisement for the Pitts thresher. I thought the ads and the article would be a meaningful contribution to Steam Traction especially since the magazine is serializing a fairly complete history of the Aultman & Taylor Company.

Agricultural Machinery Threshing Machines

Excerpted -from The Bureau, June 1871, Vol 2, No. 9

In accordance with our promise in last issue, we propose to furnish our readers with some idea of the leading points in controversy between the two principles of threshing or, rather, separating grain.

The principle of threshing in all machines is so nearly alike and effective as to preclude the necessity of any further remark. The separating power is the great point of excellence to be maintained. As stated in our issue of May, we select for illustration the original Pitts and the Aultman & Taylor threshers, inviting particular attention to the mechanical construction of both; first in the order of its coming will be.

The Original Pitts

The grain is thoroughly threshed and beaten out of the heads, in its contact with the cylinder, which forces or drives it down and forwards. The bulk of the grain, estimated at 7/8 of the whole, is stopped at the cylinder by reason of the guard-slats placed there to protect the apron and the openings through the concaves.

This portion of the grain parts contact with the straw at the cylinder and falls through the open concaves and guard-slats directly into the troughs or cells of the apron. The remainder of the grain, mixed through the straw, passes up together on the apron, which is being agitated by a sharp jerking motion over the friction pullies on which it rests, until it comes in contact with the beater, 'armed with teeth' and revolving with great rapidity, which passing through the mass of straw, tears the knots and lumps to pieces and causes the greater portion of the eighth remaining therein to fall through into the cells of the apron, where it is seized hold of by the swift-revolving picker, and the particles of straw are here pulled apart most effectually, and spread out thinly on the slat-belt or rake, and whilst passing over it, is again thoroughly agitated by a vibrating arm or rocker, which motion fully dislodges the last particle of grain heretofore adhering to or mixed with the straw.

4/16/2019 8:28:07 PM

I believe I have found an ID plate [sort of like today's "VIN" plate on a car] off a piece of PITTS equipment. Can you verify? Does this look familiar? Hmmm... I can't upload the pdf... My email is Let me know if this would be of interest to anyone reading this. The plate is 3" in diameter and is a bit arced as if it had been attached [two mounting screws at 9 and 3] to a cylinder. It reads "PITTS - 1889 - 185" I'm guessing it is serial number 185 from an 1889 PITTS machine.


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