R. R. 1, Clinton, Illinois
I am sending you a picture of my present rig, a 14 HP Port Huron engine and 28 x 50 Keck separator. The following is a list of the separators I have had the good fortune to have run and attended as my father had four complete rigs and then I purchased my first rig in 1928, then added another in 1929. I purchased my first combine in 1934. I threshed until 1943, then ran two combines until 1952, when I quit.
My father developed heart trouble in 1929 and until his death in 1940, it was my lot to keep all the rigs going. I would try to make it to each rig daily to see if they needed any help or maybe I could pull to the next job during the noon hour, or make some repairs, so I never knew where or when I would eat dinner.
May the eternal halo of steam engine smoke and hot cylinder oil enshroud your labors with fun and joy that others on this sordid earth may-learn to live like good men and canines struck by an all-wise Creator.
May the Lord bless all Klopfers, Queenie's and Case Engines, world without end, and from Elmer, 'AMEN'.'
Now for a list of the separators; Nichols & Shepard, Keck Gonnerman, Huber, Aultman-Taylor, Minneapolis and Case.
The Nichols was a very good machine, good solid frame and was put together well. I didn't like the hangers on the straw racks being on the inside of the machine, as straw would catch back of them. It was a daily job to get inside the machine and clean out all the straw and beards. It was not as good as it could have been in the shoe or cleaning as light oats would give a separator man fits. It wasn't very good hulling clover for the same reason.
The Keck Gonnerman was a good machine, a very smooth runner. It would compare with the Aultman-Taylor in this respect. I didn't like the cylinder being so high from the ground. It made the feeder much higher than any of the other machines. If you had to work on the cylinder or change concaves as we always did from wheat to oats, it was a man-sized job. Also the wind blower was very poor; like when you were standing on the machine as the blower went to the left, it would blow good but as it came back to the right of the machine, it just roped the straw out in gobs. You couldn't build a good stack with either the 36 x 58 or 28 x 50 to save your neck.
The Huber supreme 32 x 54 with raddle back of the cylinder was a much better machine than the later ones that had a short jumper rack in place of a raddle. You could work on this jumper rack all the time and it would still knock. It was very hard to keep up as it would tear itself up if you didn't work on it. This machine was very unhandy for separator man to run. It was hard to get on the machine and to run the blower around . on the machine sure was a chore as there was no place to stand. The castings on all Huber machines were very rough. I don't believe they had a grinder in the whole plant. I didn't like just set screws holding pulleys on main shaft. The skeins on the axles were very poor. I never saw a Huber separator that the wheels run like they should have.
The Minneapolis 32 x 54 with 12 bar cylinder was a nice machine to run, with one exception; that being at the top of raddle back of cylinder, they put a hump on deck with a lid on it. You couldn't keep it from leaking dust and in any dirty grain, such as rust or smut, it was terrible. You had to put in new teeth every year as the minute the corner was gone, it would back feed and kill any tractor you had. I recall as if just yesterday, the first time it did this and I couldn't make any adjustments to correct it. I called Ralph Jester at Peoria, Illinois (a lot a threshermen in Central Illinois knew him - he was manager of Minneapolis in Decatur, Illinois, and later Keck at Peoria) and told him my trouble. He said, 'Ray, put in new teeth,' which I did, and no more back feeding. You couldn't crowd this machine like some of the others, as you could get to its capacity over the racks very easy; but day in day out you would thresh as much with it as any of the other machines as we had 10 racks and 6 pitchers in the field.
Now for the Aultman & Taylor which in my estimation was truly a wonderful machine, and for that time, it was far superior to any of the other machines. I would come from one of the other machines and you would think it was going to stop it being so well balanced, nothing running fast. The only place I would fault this machine was the frame. It was sort of wiggly but it sure never kept it from threshing. You could thresh timothy or hull clover with this machine alongside a good huller and do as good a job and a lot faster as I have done it, as we had a No. 4 Matchless which was a very good huller.
Now for the Case 28 x 46 that I used on two smaller runs. This was a nice machine to run as you could grease the entire machine from the ground with the exception of the top of the weigher and feeder. Many would say you could crowd this little machine easily which was true, but if the rack men could cooperate, which they did, you could do a lot of threshing in a season with eight racks.
Now this is the way I saw it and I wouldn't quarrel with any man who would disagree with me, as we all had our preferences and they would all work if given a chance.