Route 1, Box 254 Cainsvitte, Georgia 30501
I thought I would try and tell some of my experiences in the
operation of threshing machinery and the operation of steam
engines, so here goes.
The threshers used in this part of Georgia just before the
combines came were of the 22 x 36 size. Larger sizes were used in
the coastal plains section of the state. In case you readers wonder
why I refer to different! sections of the state, Georgia has
elevations from sea level to 4784 feet. I am in the twelve to
fourteen hundred feet level so we have some pretty steep hills, or
did have twenty-five or thirty years ago before modern road
machinery. If Mrs. Barber traveled south on 1-75 out of Chattanooga
she can get an idea how they cut through the side of a large
But to get back to threshing, I ran an outfit in 1940, 41, 42,
and 43. We pulled with a 22-36 McCormick Deering tractor and used
an Oliver Red River special 22 x 36 hand fed, hand measured and did
all stack and barn threshing. During those years help was scarce so
I had to drive the tractor, act as separator man, and feed part of
the time. Even hand fed the thresher would thresh eight bushels of
oats a minute. The measuring man had the hardest job because the
feeder could work him down in a few minutes if he wanted to.
We threshed wheat, oats, barley, and rye. Have any of you
thresher men ever had rye straw wind around the cylinder? I have.
Rye straw in this part of the country grows six to seven feet tall
and cut with a binder the straw was five to six feet long. Let the
beater belt get a little slack and GROUMP we had rye straw wound
around the cylinder so tight we would have to cut it out with out
pocket knives. Had a piece of chain get in the cylinder one time,
but it went in lengthwise so didn’t do anything but bend a few
spikes but fire flew in all directions, didn’t set the machine
on fire though. If you want to see a crew leave a thresher like it
was red hot just let a dozen or so rotten eggs get into the
cylinder with a bundle of grain, WHEEOU WEE.
We ran from mid-June until mid-August, then threshed Ky., 31
fescue seed in the fall. The Oliver could be changed into a corn
husker shelter but not enough work of this kind to pay for
changing. It would thresh beans and peas too, but not enough of
this work either. The hardest stuff I ever tried to put through a
threshing machine is Sericia Lespedeza that had been cut with a
mowing machine and raked up with a dumping hay rake.
I am enclosing some pictures of my engine. It is a 5 x 7 six
h.p. Russell. Originally, it was a portable but was converted to
traction. In the pictures you may notice that the operator has only
one arm. The operator is myself, the result of tangling with a
cotton gin. I have operated steam engines on saw mills, planers,
and cotton gins, but came along after they quit using steam to pull
Referring to the pictures of my engine, you may notice some
extra parts on it. The bearings of the engine shaft are so close
together there was not room between them to put a shifting
eccentric reverse, on it, so used a straight link which works
fairly well. This engine was converted to a traction by Mr. J. F,
Messer of Rossville, Georgia.
We have a steam engine club here in Forsyth County, Georgia.
There is one Case 45 Hp. traction, two Case 36 Hp. portables
mounted on truck chasis, one six Hp. Russell traction, one twenty
Hp. Russell traction, one twenty-five Hp. Russell traction, one 15
Hp. Peerless traction, and a three inch scale model of a single
cylinder M Rumley, also a six Hp. Best on a ton pickup chasis.
Here is a brief history of steam engines in this area up until
1948. There was at one time in this county alone eight Case engines
rangine in size from thirty-six to one thousand ten horse power,
six Russell engines from ten to twenty-five Hp., all tractions. One
twelve Hp. Russell traction engine was bought new in April 1936. It
was cut up and sold for scrap in 1948 after only twelve years. All
of the above mentioned in this history went the way of the scrap
heap except the twenty-five Hp. Russell. It was used to pull a
cotton gin until about ten years ago and is still in good running
condition and it was bought new in 1914.
There is a twelve Hp. Russell in an amusement park in Atlanta
that escaped the scrap heap and the serial number on it is 10477.
Also Mr. Howard Camp’s twelve Hp. Advance. Mr. Camp’s
engine has a story behind it. Mr. V. M. Grant was pulling a
thresher from one barn to another one night and as he drove into
the barn yard, he ran the front of the engine into a six or eight
feet high tree stump breaking the smoke box door and ring. Mr.
Grant used another engine to finish the run with, then ordered a
new door and ring, and when they came they had M Rumley Advance
line cast on them but the engine is a true Advance.
I did my last feeding of a thresher in 1943. We finished that
run around August 10th and went back to sawmilling until ginning
time, around September 20th. Started up the gin and it ran ok but
one part had to have constant attention which was a nuisance. I
continued to put up with it until October 5, 1943 when I decided I
would fix it while the gin was running. I knew better but went
ahead anyway so I got tangled in it and left part of me in it.
I run my engine around the yard and in a parade in Cumming,
Georgia on July 4 and Old Soldiers’ Day parade in Alpharetta,
Georgia on the 1st Saturday in August. My son and I have pulled a
wagon at the Halloween carnival at our local school.
The only thing I don’t like about running it around home is
we can’t blow the whistle for it would scare all of the
Broilers and make them kill themselves. Some of you readers may not
understand this, but here it is. They put 15000 day old baby chicks
under one roof and grow a 3 1b. Broiler in 8 to 9 weeks and after
they get 3 or 4 weeks old you can blow a whistle around them and
all of them will run to one end of the house and trample and
smother each other to death, so no whistle.
I had better stop and not take up too much space so will sign
off for now. Hope to attend some of the shows this summer. If I do
I’ll see some of you then.
Yours for a bigger and better album.