| November/December 1969

Box 712 Devils Lake, N.D. 58301

Whenever I pick up an advertisement or catalog of farm equipment I am struck by the fact that they are at once very like and yet very different from the catalogs of a half century ago. They are just as interesting in their clarity and detail, but so different in their educational approach. It used to be that they were intended to educate the prospective customer about the advantages of using some particular machine and to show how the thing was made. Also, the method of operation was described in detail so as to ensure that the operator would give it the best possible care and avoid as many breakdowns as possible.

Today, the emphasis seems to be on how many extra features the machine has and how attractive in appearance it is, with little regard for whether or not the buyer will derive any economic benefit through it's use, or his work be better done thereby. Speed is too often the only thing mentioned. The number of plows pulled and the number of acres covered are stressed, but the quality of plowing done is too often forgotten. The comfort of the enclosed cab and the number of acres or bushels harvested are stressed, but how often is the problem of clean separation or the proper adjustment of the combine even mentioned?

The proportion of combine operators who do not know the principle of separating the wheat from the chaff is very likely as great today as it was when the difference between the vibrator and agitator systems of separation were a source of bewilderment and confusion among most threshermen, who too often had only the vaguest idea of their meaning.

The J.I. Case Company did it's best to clear up the question with their very excellent book 'The Science Of Successful Threshing' which became almost a classic for the industry. Unfortunately, there is no book on the market today that can take it's place in serving as a manual for operating combines.

The manufacturers of threshing machines before the turn of the century certainly must have been the champion optimists of all time. Who else would have the faith and the courage to make a machine out of wood and a few poor castings and steel shafts, and ship it two thousand miles to some farmer who more than likely had less than no mechanical ability, and expect it to work well enough to enable the buyer to pay for it? But this they did, and out of such small beginnings grew most of the grand old names which are still a by-word among old time threshermen. However, with all their efforts to educate the farmer operator in the proper operation of their machines, even the manufacturers themselves were sometimes led rather far a field. Take as one instance the 'double-belted' machine, in which the straw shakers, grain pan and cleaning fan were all driven from both sides by separate belts. It no doubt looked good on paper and very likely sounded very impressive as a salesman's talking point, but my own experience taught me that the small belts to the augers and elevators caused ten times as many stops as all the other belts put together.


Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

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