Farm Collector

The history of American makes of engines and threshers

By Han J. and ersen

Therefore, in 1867, H. H. Taylor and C. Aultman formed a new
company and set up a factory at Mansfield, Ohio to build vibrating
thresh machines under license from Nichols & Shepard. Both of
the Nichols and David Shepard were stockholders in this new

By 1870 the new vibrating type threshing machines, built only by
a few companies, were gaining popularity over the apron type. This
was especially true where the threshing machines were being driven
by steam power as they seemed to operate easier and could thresh
faster. The builders of apron machines battled them with everything
in their power but by the end of the decade had to concede defeat.
Most of the prominent companies had taken up the manufacture of a
vibrator or other rack type machine.

To conform with newly passed laws the partnership was
incorporated in 1871 under the name of Nichols, Shepard &

For many years they had been calling their threshing machines
the ‘VIBRATOR’, finally in 1874 they claimed originality
and had the name registered in the Patent Office. Many attempted to
infringe upon it.

The Nichols, both father and son, as well as David Shepard were
ardent sportsmen and enjoyed hunting and fishing in northern
Michigan with their friends and associates, including their partner
and competitor, Cornelius Aultman. This interest in sports perhaps
accounts for the choice deer head as the trade mark for the
products of the company. For many years their engines and threshing
machinery were adorned by the head of a ten point buck.

Portable engines had been sold by the company for a number of
years to go with their threshing machines, but not until 1877 did
they undertake to build them. Having always relied upon eastern
engine and boiler builders to supply them.

The popularity of steam power was on the ascent, a few companies
were already building tractions. The C&G Cooper & Company
of Mount Vernon, Ohio, had patents on a traction attachment to be
fitted to portable engines, which were proving popular. The
Nichols, Shepard Company furnished these traction attachments on a
number of their engines built during 1878-1879.

During 1880 they brought out the first all spur gear traction
engine of their own design. This was equipped with a single
cylinder, bar guide engine, no reverse gear, no friction clutch and
was horse guided.

The following year the Marsh reverse was added, followed by the
hand guide in 1883, giving them a full independent traction

Attempts were made to provide straw burning attachments for
their locomotive boilered engine but without particular success,
therefore, in 1885 they came out with a drop-fire box return flue
boiler traction engine of 13 horsepower.

The year 1886 saw the firm re-incorporated as the Nichols &
Shepard Company. It had now grown to be one of the larger builders
of threshing machinery in this country, being capitalized for a
million dollars. Also came the first of their new threshing
machines, which were known as the ‘Flagg’ vibrator, having
been designed by one Eli Flagg, one of their threshing machine

By 1886 the new ‘Flagg’ vibrator had proven successful
enough to eliminate the old lifting finger vibrator from the


  • Published on Sep 1, 1953
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