Early Thresher History

| January/February 1992

This story is reprinted from the July, 1935 issue of Farm Power.

Grain threshers were among the earliest of the agricultural implements to be developed. The flail was a laborious tool and the time required to separate the grain from the straw was too long to satisfy the average farmer. Most of the early threshers had their inception right on the farm. Manufacturers took of the ideas worked out by the farmers and developed them into practical working machines.

The first type of thresher was what was known as the 'ground hog'. It consisted merely of a drum with some spikes driven into it which coordinated with a makeshift concave. Grain, chaff and straw came from the machine as a body to be later separated by winnowing. A later improvement consisted of an open shaker through which grain fell onto a canvas and the straw passed on to the end of the shaker to be forked away. The grain had to be subjected to a further winnowing in order to separate the chaff and short straws.

The development in threshing machines was very slow for many years because of the lack of suitable power with which to operate them. Every improvement took more power so that the improvements were limited to the power which could be provided. The sweep horsepower was a decided improvement over the tread power but it was not until the steam traction engine was developed that the real development in threshers began.

As an indication of the early development of threshing machines, here are the dates of the beginning of some of the more important threshing machine concerns. Many of them have now passed out of existence or have been merged with other companies.

1834G. Westinghouse & Co. Central
Bridge, N.Y. (In 1856 removed to Schenectady, N.Y.)