Comments

1625 Georgie Avenue Marysville, Michigan 48040

In the Nov.-Dec. 1969 issue of the Iron Men Album on page 36
there appears an article by A. H. Borstad entitled ‘Some
Memories of Happy Days.’ This is a well written and interesting
article, as are all those in IMA, however, I believe the author
made a few incorrect statements. He had discussed some of the
various companies and in particular the Port Huron Engine and
Thresher Co. He discussed their weak Company-Agent contacts. The
PHE & T Company, as did many other companies, had regular
agents and warehouses throughout the wheat area and in Canada,
Mexico, and South America. The PHE & T Co., may have had some
weak agents but no weak contracts or equipment. In 1885 the company
hired canvassers, mainly in Eastern Michigan, to go directly to the
farmers, and all these agents reported directly to the home
office.

Records show regular company agents in Port Huron, Michigan, and
in Sarnia, OntarioSt. Louis, Mo.,Peoria, Ill., Winnipeg, Manitoba,
Minneapolis, Minn. Fargo, N.D.Des Moines, Iowa-Wichita, Kansas
Lincoln, Neb .Indianapolis, Ind. Toledo, Ohio Manitowac, Wisconsin
Atlanta, Ga.Dallas, Tex.-San Francisco, California, Calif. Los
Angeles, CaiPortland, Oregon Denver, Colorado Pittsburg, Penn and
Baton Rouge, La. The Foreign office was in New York City, N.Y.
There were regularly attended salesman schools and other
educational programs for the agents.

However, the main matter is that he states that he was not
impressed by the Port Huron drive wheel with rim of cast iron and
that he had seen many discarded cast iron wheels and that they were
not good enough for North Dakota. He just could not believe that
the PHE & T Co., would actually brag about their wheels.

The Port Huron Self-Cleaning Driver (patented by George F.
Conner-Mechanical Superintendent of the PHE & T Co.,) was
advertised as ‘The Wheel the User Wants – That the PH’.

The Port Huron Lines, catalog, published in 1916 discusses drive
wheels

The article states: ‘Port Huron Self-Cleaning Drivers, as
they are called patented, and are the nearest approach to a perfect
wheel that has thus far been offered to the public. The
corrugations in the rims of the PH Drive Wheels are fashioned after
the mold board plow i.e. they have no corners or niches to hang
onto the dirt. For this reason they will clean themselves of soil,
snow and mud far better than any other shape it is possible to make
as has been proved by theory, by practice, and by the continued use
of the original shaped plow mold-board. Front wheels as well as
drivers have wrought iron spokes with both ends upset, making
liberal sized heads which are cast into the rim and the hub of the
wheel. After the heads have been made the ends of spokes are ground
bright, then dipped into a bath of molten tin. They are then placed
in the mold and the rim cast. The next day, after the rim has
cooled down, and the shrinkage taken place, the hub is cast.
Shrinkage of hub puts a uniform tension on the spokes. The tinning
causes the cast iron to weld fast to the spokes, making the wheel
one solid piece. This means that they are more durable than any
built up wheel it is possible to make of the same weight, width of
face and diameter. Don’t forget We guarantee the spokes will
not work loose in rim or hub for 10 years. No built up wheel can
stand up to them.

They may have worn through after many years of hard use on
gravel roads but I never did hear of a broken PH wheel. The 60th
year book (1911) of the PHE &TCo., was one of the finest
advertising books ever published. The frontispiece shows a PH
Engine in front of the PH (Conner) wheel. This is the best known
engine action picture and is the design shown on the PH watch fobs
and clips as advertised in the IMA. The May-June 1969 issue shows
the wheel on the cover.

In another place the author states that the J. I. Case Co., did
its best to clean up the problems of separating the wheat from the
chaff with their excellent book ‘The Secret of Successful
Threshing’. I have several Port. Huron, Case and other books on
the subject and related matters but do not have, and cannot find,
the book mentioned. There definitely could be such a book and if so
I have missed it. Possibly, he means the ‘Science of
Threshing’ published by the Union Company of Racine, Wisconsin
in 1897. Case had an advertisement in the book as did the PHE &
T Co., and others. This book was by George F. Conner, inventor of
the self-cleaning wheel. It was slightly revised and published by
‘The Threshermans Review’, St. Joseph, Michigan in 1906.
The last issue had various pictures of separator parts as shown in
the 1901 PHE & T Co., book of specifications. George F. Conner
was the inventor of many items mainly along agricultural lines but
he also worked on and invented a snow shovel still in use today, a
beet picker, babies milk bottle and other items. The book also had
pictures from the 1901 PHE & T Co., book to include cylinders,
teeth, concaves, etc.

Mr. LeRoy Blaker of the NTA, sent me his copy of the Science of
Threshing. It is the same as my 1906 issue. We discussed the
article as written in the Nov-Dec issue and Mr. Blaker stated he
had naturally read the Science of Threshing but could not recall
the Science of Successful Threshing. If anyone has a copy I’d
appreciate hearing from them.

The article mentioned that thresher manufacturers must have had
great faith in their products. I believe they all did so. The PHE
& T Co., Rusher advertisement of 1911 shows pictures of
horseshoes, wrenches, steel forks and other metal items that were
threshed by the Rusher without hurting the machine.

Mr. George Ferman Conner was born in Waseca, Minnesota. July 19,
1857. He lived in the Dakota Territory and also in Michigan. He
died in Port Huron, Michigan in 1924. He served awhile in the U.S.
Army during the Indian Wars, married in Orient, Dakota, at age 30
and then went to work for the Case Company. In 1897 he went to the
PHE & T Co. He left them in 1914 to start the Gee-Cee Company
making road machinery, saws, beet pullers, etc. Mr. Conner was a
gentleman of the old school, well respected and liked; he was very
active in the Sturges Congregational Church, Ravenswood Road, South
Park, Port Huron.

Mr. Conner was a Great-Uncle of my wife, the former Jean
Cleland. She and her sister were raised in Mr. Conner’s home at
3803 Military Street, Port Huron, Mich. We have many of his
personal items to include furniture, antiques, books, tools, and
even his old desk and we both know many people, especially those
from the Church, who knew him very well. Many of the old Port Huron
employees still reside in the area. All are in their eighties or
older but they have given me many interesting items about the old
company.

The PHE & T Co., is still registered and the names ‘Port
Huron Engine & Thresher Company’ and ‘Rusher’ are
still registered so there is a continuous 118 year old history from
the time the company started as the Henry M. Strong Company in 1851
in Battle Creek, Michigan. The name was changed to the Upton
Manufacturing Company in 1874. They moved to Port Huron in 1884. On
October 9, 1890, the name was changed to ‘The Port Huron Engine
and Thresher Company.’

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