Green Straw Piles in Kansas

513 Ramona Ct. 2, Monterey,Kansas, California 93940 as told to
him by his grandfather.

After reading the letters to the editor in the March-April IMA,
Album, I would like to make a few remarks myself.

It seems some people think you have to be over the hill to know
anything about steam. I should qualify as I am in the ninth inning.
I was ninety-three my last birthday. I spent over thirty years on
the dusty end of a big steam outfit and many more years harvesting
with combines in Kansas.

In the last four years there have been some outstanding articles
in both Iron Men Album and Engineers and Engines about the
different makes of engines. I can’t say that I agree with
everything the boys say, but some of these men have to be very
knowledgeable about steam to write such detailed articles. It makes
me happy that some of you younger fellows have such outstanding

What really prompted this article was a letter to the editor
about green straw piles. I’ll try and help this man as I
don’t believe he understands the principles of threshing or
correct operation of a threshing machine.

Number one, the machine was designed for the straw to travel
over the straw racks and not between the chaffer and sieve. Number
two, he must have been completely over-threshing at the cylinder,
chopping the straw up if it’s falling through the racks and
traveling over the shoe. Number three, if you have a machine
correctly adjusted, you can not operate it running half empty.

So that you younger fellows can understand, the threshing
principle of the threshing machine is just like your combine. There
is no basic difference. Of course, I am speaking of the
conventional combine and and not a rotary machine. Both the
threshing machine and combine must feed correctly, smooth and even
at the cylinder. The next step is to thresh correctly at the
cylinder. Do not over-thresh or you will have problems of
over-loading the shoe. A good operator will take the time to adjust
the cylinder to thresh right. The harshness of the threshing action
at the cylinder should be no greater than what is necessary to
remove the grain from the head. Do not unnecessarily chop the straw
to pieces.

The machine should be kept full and run at full capacity. Now I
didn’t say to crowd the machine. It’s just as much a
mistake to over-crowd a machine as it is to run one half empty.

Just a little more about running the machine half empty. This is
a very bad mistake. The big cylinder threshing machines from
36-inch to 44-inch cylinders were big capacity machines. Just like
your modern combines, you can’t run them half empty and do a
good job. You fellows know that with one of the large modern
combines equipped with 24 foot header, if you get into an area that
has been dry and the crop is short you can’t keep the machine
full. You also know that this doesn’t work very well and
creates a lot of threshing problems. My grandson tells me that on
his big new combine equipped with grain monitors, that when he hits
a hot spot in the field, and the machine runs half empty, the grain
monitor will go crazy. When he gets back in the heavy grain it will
settle down.

Another check you fellows can run next summer. Get someone to
run your combine. Follow along behind, and hold your hand just
behind the shoe. See how much grain you catch in your hand. Now
have your operator stop the ground travel. While your machine is
emptying out notice that when it becomes about half empty how much
more grain you will catch in your hand. The machine will really
dump the grain out.

While I am still on threshing machines, I would say that more
people make a mistake of not running enough air, than too much.
Boys, if you have the cylinder set correctly, belts tight, machine
at proper speed, and running up to capacity, turn the air to

It sounds like our friend in Nebraska was over-threshing at the
cylinder, running half empty, air not adjusted right and slipping

In many years running threshing machines in Kansas, I did not
encounter myself all the problems our friend speaks of with Case
machines. I have seen these problems with all makes, when not run

The four leading separators in Kansas were Rumely, Nichols and
Shepard, Avery and Case. All four were good machines. On an out and
out threshing contest the Rumely, Nichols and Shepard and Avery
would out-thresh a Case. However, day in and day out the Case was
hard to beat. Few if any machines would beat a Case putting clean
grain in your wagon. In out of condition grain the Rumely and
Nichols and Shepard would have a slight advantage over Case.

Reeves and Case steam engines did the plowing in Kansas. Others
tried it with varying degrees of success.

Reading the different articles, you boys have sure been pulling
Old Abe’s tail feathers.

It’s only wishful thinking when you say the reason for
Case’s success was price. There was only one engine that could
possibly be worth the extra cost over Case. That was the Canadian
Reeves. And even this is questionable. Reeves and Case both proved
themselves in Kansas.

Just a word to Wayne Kennedy. The Advance Rumely Universal was a
completely new engine, not a warmed over engine. However, by the
time they arrived in Kansas most of the steam plowing was over.
These engines looked good to me.

I can see that you boys don’t agree on engines and
separators. They didn’t agree in 1915 either. As Wayne Kennedy
says, this shows our hobby is alive and well.

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