I ENCLOSE MY RENEWAL for the ALBUM. I have every copy published except the first one, so have been with you almost from the start.
Perhaps few readers of the ALBUM ever threshed rice. Here in the rice belt of Louisiana and Texas it was all threshed until about 10 years ago, but it is nearly all combined at present. There is still some threshing here and there. I operate the only steam rig around here.
Rice growing here in the gulf coast country started about 1890 and within two or three years thousands of acres was in rice. Many people from the north, especially from the state of Iowa, came to buy the cheap land and help to start the industry. The towns of Jennings and Iowa were both established by Iowa people. They brought their farm equipment. Therefore rice growers had the best machinery of that day right from the start. Primitive methods of harvesting and threshing the crop were never used here.
Mr. J. F. Percival had a good article on the history of grain binders in the Sept.-Oct., issue of the ALBUM. He wonders why some McCormick binders were right hand cut. I do not know but I know they were the answer to the bull punchers prayer. A good many oxen were used to cut rice until around five or six years after the turn of the century. Now with a left hand binder the driver had to walk on the 'off' or right hand side of the team. An old time bull puncher considered this a disgrace, moreover the oxen were trained for their driver to be on their left. A new McCormick right hand was bought for our farm in 1906 and like all right hand binders sold here it came with two sizes of sprockets for the rear end of pitman shaft, the larger sprocket to be used with oxen to speed up the mechanism for the slower travel of the bull team.
I have used a right hand cut a great deal with both horses and tractors. There is no difference at all except of course they will not work on the same cut of grain with a left hand at the same time.
We later had a McCormick left hand. My present binder is a late Mc-Cormick-Deering power drive with roller chain except the reel. We have also used two Deering binders. My father bought a Deering before I can remember that had the Pitman behind and worked the sickle by a cross arm pivoted some way in the center of the platform. It was still in use when I got old enough to notice things. How many old-timers remember that model of binder? It also had a large spur gear instead of a sprocket on the bull wheel.
In Oklahoma and South Central Kansas in the years just before World War I, many header-binders or 'push binders' as they were called in that country, were in use. All of the great many McCormick header-binders I ever saw in that country were right hand cut.
The largest rig I ever cut with cut a 40 foot swath. This was not on Paul Bunyan's farm but in Kingman County, Kansas. Five 8 foot binders drawn by an Aultman Taylor 30-60. I had to help some of the other operators who could not even thread the machine when the twine would break.
Here in the rice fields I think nearly every standard make of engine and thresher was in general use in the steam threshing days.
My father and uncle bought a new 12hp. center crank Case traction engine about 1894. It ran on the farm here and in the neighborhood for many years. No better little engine ever turned a wheel.
Any standard wheat thresher will thresh rice, but for best results all the pulleys on the cylinder should be larger, this to slow down the cylinder somewhat to prevent cracking the grain and at the same time maintain regular speed on all other parts of the machine.
My 32x51 Case turns 900 rpm. while it would run 1100 in wheat but the crank turns 230 the same as in wheat. Of course the older 20 bar Case cylinder turns much slower.
We never used any outlaw or homemade rigs here in the rice country, but only the world famous engines and threshers built in the north and so well known to all ALBUM readers.