102 Britannia St., Stratford, Ontario, Canada
I have noticed an occasional article on 'barn threshing' in the Iron-Men Album. In this part of southern Ontario, Canada, near Stratford, Perth County, all the barns had stone foundations, with dirt ramps called barn banks to provide access to the upper story where the sheaves were stored.
I attended barn threshing from 1935 until 1950 helping to fork out the sheaves, tramp the straw, steer the blower, or whatever job the farmer assigned to me. I will attempt to describe the best days threshing I witnessed in that period.
There were men who owned outfits who could eventually get the job done, and then there is the man who made it a work of art. Such a man was Mr.Robert K. Clarke of Mitchell, Ontario.
The second item of importance is the equipment used. With all due respect for steam as a source of power at this period of time, it had been discontinued and as a result, the threshing I had seen done was powered by tractors.
The power was furnished in this instance by a McCormiek-Deering WD40 diesel tractor. The fuel tank held 18 imperial gallons and would do two days threshing, plus provide transportation for Mr. Clarke to his home and back to the farm where he was threshing. This was by far the best tractor I ever saw used for threshing.
The threshing separator was a Waterloo 33-48 steel machine, manufactured by the Waterloo Mfg. Co. Ltd., Waterloo, Ontario. This machine had a straw deck 18 inches longer than some of their previous models. The straw rack in these machines consists of kickers mounted on two crankshafts with deck boards between the kickers. One kicker and one deck board occupies six inches of deck width. The straw is kicked up hill from behind the cylinder to the point where it drops into the blower.
In these machines if the kickers were removed, straw could still be delivered to the blower. There are only three machines that I know of having this characteristic. They are The Lion, manufactured by Lobsinger Bros., Mildmay, Ontario; The Waterloo manufactured by the Waterloo Manufacturing Company Ltd., Waterloo, Ontario and The Hergott manufactured by the Hergott Thresher Co., St. Clements, Ontario.
The fan on these machines is of the overshot type. The shoe is extra large, equipped with a lip sieve, which does an excellent job of cleaning.
The band cutter and self-feeder was by A. E. Ebersol of Milverton, Ontario. The fact that this is the best self-feeder ever made is not just my own personal opinion. This machine was equipped with a spiral knife, lawn mower type, straw cutter, a marvel grain thrower and a water pump to pump a stream of water into the blower to settle the dust which made for better working conditions in the barn.
Ralph Weidman, R. 2, Wooster, Ohio, now owns the engine and proudly exhibits it at the Dover Show annually.
Earl was my father. I own and operate the Watch Shop, 9 West Vine Street, Mt. Vernon, Ohio. If you are in town, look me up and I'll talk steam with you.
It required nine men in the sheaf mow. The usual number used is five or six. These were properly educated men, no piling up of the sheaves and rolling them out on to the table. The table is a platform that bridges the gap between the mow and the bundle carrier of the self-feeder. The man that feeds the machine stands on the table. There was never more than four and never less than two sheaves on the, table at one time. This fact in itself says a lot for the crew. This was the only time I saw it happen in fifteen years.
This was the only time I had the opportunity to feed a machine to capacity; that is, a machine that had some capacity. It was necessary to place two sheaves on the bundle carrier with each motion of the pitchfork. It was impossible to get anywhere near capacity forking them one at a time. In a period of six hours, I only succeeded in stopping the bundle carrier twice and at that, it only hesitated for an instant.
The farmer had fifty-six loads of mixed grain, oats and barley, in the barn, the crop of forty-eight acres. The load of grain stored in a barn contains considerable more sheaves than a load on a bundle wagon loaded by one man. These loads are unloaded by rope slings and have to be properly built and tramped. The time required to thresh out this barn was seven hours.
During the 1930 to 1940 period the average charge for threshing was $2.25 per hour with the farmer furnishing the fuel. The crew was composed of farmers that exchanged work with one another. Occasionally a farmer might hire someone to go to the threshing for him. In this instance I was hired. The wages were 20cent per hour and you could only charge the same hours as the machine operator charged the farmer.
The wages included meals furnished by the farmer's wife. In this area, there were only two kinds of cooks extra good and a notch or two better than extra good. I would doubt if it is possible to buy as good a meal as was served at a threshing. The work certainly gave one the appetite to do justice to it.