EVOLUTION OF THE NICHOLS & SHEPARD STRAW RACK

Salina, Kansas

Mr. Leonard sent us this article some time ago and we have just
been pressed with other material and could not get it in. However,
this is an interesting article anytime. Ed.

ON PAGES 8 AND 9, Vol. 3, Summer 1949 issue of the ALBUM,
readers of the ALBUM read about the Buffalo Pitts horse power
thresher, the hum of the side gear on Daniel Bros.’ Nichols
& Shepard Vibrator, the wood arms on the side of that machine,
which moved the lifting fingers, Moses Stutzman’s shipping a
Nichols & Shepard steam traction engine and Vibrator from
Illinois to Iowa in 1882 and his failure but did not read the side
gear of the Buffalo Pitts machine consisted of a large spur gear
and spur pinion, the side-gear of the Vibrator consisted of a large
bevel gear and bevel pinion, Moses Stutzman’s engine was
equipped with the Marsh reverse and his Vibrator with lifting
fingers.

I saw the side gear of the Buffalo Pitts machine, heard them
speak about its breaking the gears, listened to the hum of the side
gear on the Vibrator and saw Moses Stutzman drive his engine
through a plowed field and as I walked by its side, saw the crank
on the Marsh reverse go around.

The preceding and much previously written by me, were written
from memory. My memory has served me well but before writing
‘The Evolution of The Nichols & Shepard Straw Rack,’ I
consulted early catalogs. That information should be authentic.

I am indebted to Fred W. Kiser, Pittsfield, Illinois, for an
early Nichols & Shepard catalog and two early Aultman-Taylor
catalogs, to Hollis Cortelyou, Higgins, Texas, for an early Frick
catalog and an early Rumely and to Lucius C. Sweet, Al-den,
Minnesota for early printed matter on Nichols & Shepard and
Aultman-Taylor machinery. I am grateful to those fine men, who so
promptly and graciously made possible the desired information.

Nichols & Shepard Co., invented and built the first Vibrator
in 1858. The Vibrator was improved from time to time and built
until 1888. First Vibrators were equipped with six sets of lifting
fingers and were without aprons or raddles.

Aultman – Taylor separators were built with six sets of lifting
fingers in the early 80’s and closely resembled the Vibrator.
Frick separators were built with six sets of lifting fingers in
1883, the Westinghouse, with six in 1886, the Belleville with
lifting fingers in 1884 and the ‘Camel Back Rumely’ with
three sets and an apron as late as 1903.

Nichols & Shepard Co., had discarded its Vibrator with
lifting fingers in 1888 and built The New Vibrator which was
designed by Flagg, because the Company considered the Flagg
separating device better than the lifting finger device. Nichols
& Shepard Co’s, appraisal of the New Vibrator in the 1893
catalog was, ‘The Crowning Marvel In The Thresher Line Of Its
Day And Generation, Times Noblest Offspring, Is The Last.’

The New Vibrator was built with a rack of five shakers. The two
first shakers were driven by pitmans from the grain pan and the
three back shakers, were connected by short pit-mans and driven
from the crankshaft.

A later model separator was built with six shakers. The first
shaker was driven by pitmans from the grain pan, the second, third,
fourth and fifth shakers were connected by two short pitmans
between each two shakers and driven from the crankshaft. The sixth
shaker was driven by two pit-mans from the fifth shaker.

The factory maintained the peculiar movement of the shakers
resulted from the shakers being connected and driven by two short
pitmans between each two shakers and two long pit-mans connecting
and driving the four shakers, would not produce a similar movement
of the shakers.

Much trouble resulted from lost motion in those short pitmans. I
pulled a New Vibrator part of the 1892 season, all of 1893,94 and
96, another in 1899 and a new one in 1900. All of those operators
had straw rack trouble and the new separator did not thresh 40
days, until it was necessary to rebuild the rack.

Nichols & Shepard Co., appointed W. H. S. Brady Mgr. for its
Kansas City Branch in 1903. Mr. Brady was conceited, headstrong and
did not accept the appointment, until given full charge of the
Branch. He approved orders, handled collections and was Nichols
& Shepard Co., at Kansas City. His management must have been
highly satisfactory, as he had charge of that Branch until late in
1919.

The short pitmans caused rack trouble on the Kansas City
territory and Mr. Brady decided to try to overcome it. He, with the
shop help, moved a new separator into the shop, turned the shaker
wheel and carefully marked the sides of the separator, indicating
the high and the low positions of the shakers. The six short
pitmans were replaced with two shaker carriers. The shaker wheel,
again was turned, with the shakers connected and driven by the
shaker carriers and the shakers moved to the same positions as when
driven by the short pitmans.

A few separators were equipped with the shaker carriers at
Kansas City and tested in the field. The next year all separators
sold at Kansas City were equipped with shaker carriers and within a
few years all Nichols & Shepard separators were built with what
since has been known as the Brady rack.

The preceding is about as Mr. Brady told the story.

The Nichols & Shepard rack was one of the best and smoothest
operating racks ever built, after the change was made by Mr. Brady
and to paraphrase a statement made by Russell & Co., in its
1920 catalog about a Russell separator, ‘It was a straw rack
with the trouble left out.’

Mr. Brady did not tell what year the change was made in the
straw rack but a cut in a 1907 catalog shows the short pitmans in
the rack. The change had been made prior to 1917, the year Nichols
& Shepard employed me and had Mr. Brady not assured me, the
weakness in the rack had been overcome, neither he, nor any other
man could have hired me to sell Nichols & Shepard
separators.

Mr. Brady was not only a conceited headstrong man but a peculiar
one. His signature indicated that. He was a good penman and wrote
his initials, one over the other, and formed a combination, not a
banker could read but recognized by all. It was said, ‘When he
traveled outside of Minneapolis for Northwest Thresher Co., he wore
a plug hat when he canvassed prospects,’ but regardless of his
peculiarities, Mr. Brady fully enjoyed the confidence of Nichols
& Shepard Co., its customers, the loyal support of every
employee of the Branch and was a man of integrity.

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