Box 143, Woodman, Wisconsin
I read in your September-October IRON-MEN ALBUM Magazine that Mr. Charles W. Tad lock wants to hear the story about the ‘Farmers Friend’ wind stacker. While visiting with my good friend Ed M. Peacock during threshing season on his farm near Fulton, Missouri this summer he handed me a book written by Stewart H. Holbrook called ‘Machines of Plenty’, and said I should read it.
Just before the postman brought your magazine this morning I was reading a chapter in this book about the wind stacker, and am attaching hereto an excerpt from it. This is an interesting subject and I am eager to hear what other readers may contribute.
I always look forward to receiving the IRON-MEN ALBUM Magazine and read everything in it several times
HASTON L. ST. CLAIR, 7511 The Paseo, Kansas City 10, Missouri
Excerpt from ‘MACHINES OF PLENTY’, By Stewart H. Holbrook (Chapter Nine-Page 105)
‘WHEN JEROME CASE died, Stephen Bull, his brother-in-law, became president of the Threshing Machine Company. During his regime the concern introduced a single crank self-feeder for threshers that eliminated both the feeders and band cutters of threshing crews. Because the self-feeder increased the amount of straw entering the machine, it called for more labor at the other end, where the threshed straw came out. This labor in turn was reduced by an endless conveyor stacker, which swung from side to side of the threshing machine as the straw moved away from it.
‘Even the conveyor stacker, however, several men were required to swing the stacker every little while and to stack the straw. An inventor named J. J. Buchanan soon came out with a patented wind stacker operated by a fan that forced a blast of air through a big pipe. Seldom has a new invention been so successful from its introduction as the wind stacker. It blew the threshed straw high and far in the air to fall and make a pile. Stacking was eliminated.
‘Not only farmers and the makers of farm machinery recognized at once the great improvement of the wind stacker. It was also recognized as such by a group of *Hoosier lawyers who bought Buchanan’s patent rights, formed the Indiana Manufacturing Company, and set out to license actual manufacturers who wanted to add wind stackers to their threshing machines. This amounted to virtually everybody in business, including the Case Company. The new device was called the Farmer’s Friend Stacker. The concerns licensed to make it agreed to sell it at a fixed price, or $250. Of this amount, $30 went to the Indiana lawyers as royalty.
‘As a trade-mark, and also to show that the royalty had been paid, the Hosier concern issued a handsome label to be affixed to each threshing machine to which to which a wind stacker had been added. The so-called Happy Farmer on the label does not appear really happy; he peers straight and steadily into the eyes of all who look at him. The conventional Uncle Sistraw hat is on his head. He wears a rustic fringe beard in the style of Horace Greeley. The index finger of his right hand is raised, as if in warning, and his mouth is clamped as tight as a steel trap. This is no rollicking farmer; the bucolic pose is grotesque false face. This fellow is obviously a watch-dog. He is there for one reason. Below his picture is a legend telling the beholder to make certain this label is on the wind stacker he is buying, for ‘then no one can cause you any trouble’. The implication is clear enough.
The first engine I run was an 18 hp. double Buffalo-Pitts and we used a 32×54 Fort Huron thresher. In 1910 we bought a Baker 18 hp. counter flow and used a 33×56 Wood separator. In 1920 we bought a 21-75 Uniflow Baker and used that until 1930 when I traded it for a 28-50 Hart Parr tractor which I still have and use. I have a 33×54 Peerless separator, hand fed and slat stacker which I bought a year ago. We threshed with it at the County Fair last Fall.
‘The Happy Farmer appeared on only thirty-two wind stackers in 1893. Seven years later he was affixed to the more than nine thousand stackers sold in 1900. Meanwhile, the Indiana company which owned the patents, but manufactured nothing, fought several court battles over infringement charges, and won. J. I. Case began making the Farmer’s Friend in 1895, and the medallion of the stern white-bearded rustic appeared alongside stern white-headed Old Abe for many years thereafter.
‘One is not to suppose that all wheat growers were favorable to the wind stacker, no matter how much labor it eliminated When the blast picked up the few kernels of grain that had escaped into the straw, it blew them against the metal spout, creating a din that sounded as though the whole crop was being battered into wheat flour on the spot and then discharged into the discard of the straw pile. The Case, and doubtless all other companies making wind stackers, received the same complaints. Only time served to convince skeptics that the ‘loss’ of grain might sound big but really was negligible.
‘Wind stackers not only saved labor; they also added something to the scene at threshing time. The chaff was blown a good forty feet into the air, and carried far, making a cloud which from a distance looked like smoke, and gave the impression that two steam engines were at work. The blower also emitted a sonorous roar that could be heard a mile or more and drowned the steady noise of the steam traction engine and even the growl of the thresher itself. The Farmer’s Friend required considerably more power of an engine than had the conveyor stackers, but it did eliminate half a dozen men. The new device was well worth its first cost and its upkeep.’
(*) Mr. A. A. McKain is the man who promoted the tight monopoly of the Farmer’s Friend wind stackers.
BACK ISSUE COMMENTS
I noticed in the July-August issue the beautiful place to set the thresher and engine. I wonder if the machine crew expressed any opinions about the ancestry and habits of people who had to set the machine in such a location (I know I have).
I also noticed that Mr. Campbell in Operation Barnstorm stated that they never saw any barn threshing in Indiana. Here in St. Joseph’s County there was considerable barn and stack threshing before 1912 and some later. The reason was there were not too many machines and those were old hand feed and straw carrier rigs powered with about a 1 2hp. steamer All the farmers raised wheat and oats, the oats were a late variety that ripened about a month later than wheat and the threshermen having a large area to cover could not make two trips to one farm. They would thresh out of the shock and then the stacks and barn jobs, frequently hulling clove- seed and shredding corn and then finish up the last few barn jobs. All the bank barns had granaries built in the rear of the barn so that it would be handy for the grain carriers. Another reason was that a straw carrier did not reach far enough to make a very high stack, with the machine set on the second story, there was an advantage of 8 or 9 feet. Still another reason was the weather that in this area can be very unfavorable and the farmers could not risk leaving their crops in the field. Later, when bigger machines were used barn and stack threshing passed out of the picture,
CLARKNCK O. MYERS, South Bend, Indiana
Mr. Myers would like to know who manufactured the Wide Awake separator. He says there were two in his neighborhood, but he doesn’t remember who made them.
I have been reading Mr. Hutsel’s article in reference to Mr. Blaker’s recent article on the Marsh Valve Gear. Well, I may say that I have handled many steam traction engines and of course it is possible that all Enginemen do not see alike for if they did there would be only one valve gear.
I have owned 33 different steam engines in my time, which of course were not all the same make. Naturally, I had a chance to try out several valve gears. I owned a 14 hp. Avery that had a sharp cutoff as the Advance. I also owned 4 Advance engines. If the readers of the IRON-MEN ALBUM will take notice the Advance only used one type of valve gear. I owned a 25 hp. Advance Rumely No. 15198. I would like to call attention to the fact the Advance never tried to find something better and also the Advance was a very economical engine, a good puller both on the draw bar and the belt. The only fault I could find of the Marsh valve gear was when it became slightly worn, the knock where the crank would pound on the motor shaft, not bad. Would like to add that I attended the reunion at Montgomery City, Missouri in ’58 and saw Mr. Hutsel’s 20 Jumbo which he had in very good shape. It seemed to be a very good Jumbo however the ground was not too good for traction engines as there had been plenty of rain and the boys were demonstrating how we did it when we were in up to the firebox and crawled out as they were most of the time at the reunion. I have not written this for the purpose to criticize but just because the article interested me and I am an Advance fan. Wishing good luck to all, I remain a steam pal,
HARRY W. HINSON Grafton, Illinois
On page 8 of the July-August issue of the ALBUM you have a picture of what you state you think is the single engine reverse gear for a Keck-Gonerman engine. You are correct. The previous picture was the reverse for the double engines. They stated in their catalogs that this was the Miller reverse gear with variable cut-off.
I have the remnants of one of their catalogs showing pictures of their engines, separators, hullers, gas tractors, etc. They made four types of steamers. There was the single in both side and rear mounting and also the double in both styles. They used the water bottom firebox type of boiler. It is interesting to study the pictures of these machines of a bygone era. I greatly enjoy the pictures and articles printed in your so worthwhile magazine. Success to all of you
H. N. FULLENWIDER, Waveland, Indiana
I see in the July-August issue where Al Davis in his letter stated he hauled water for a Reeves double 30 hp. and it took 6 tanks one day and 7 the next and it was a 14 barrel tank. That sure was a lot of water. The engineer must have poured it in at the top and let it out at the bottom. In 1914 I run a 16 hp. Advance and 36×58 Aultman thresher with feeder and weightier and a Sattley swinging stacker and I only used 3 tanks of water one day and four the next and they were only 10 barrel tanks, With my 16 hp. Advance and 32 in. Advance thresher, I only used 2 tanks one day and 3 tanks the next and they were 10 barrel tanks at that.
I also disagree with LeRoy Blaker and agree with Edward Hutsel of Mexico, Missouri about the Marsh reverse. I see no point of hooking up the reverse because if you use it a lot hooked up it will wear through and when you want it out full length it is uneven.
In 1890 my Dad, P. S. Swanson bought two Minneapolis steam threshing machines fired with straw. One man fed the grain into the machine, one band cutter on each side of him. One man with two half-bushel measurers kept tally of the number of bushels. All the grain was put into sacks. The machine had straw carriers to elevate the straw. I was fireman with one of these steam engines when I was 13 years old. We put in 90 days threshing. Had to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning. Now I am 81 years old. Picture was taken Dec. 8, 1891, on the P. G. swanson farm, Brookfield Township, McCook County South Dakota.
I had four engines with the Marsh reverse, two 16 hp. and a 19 hp. Compound Advance and one 18 hp. A. R. The 16 hp’s. were Advances, the exhaust sharp and quick. I know I would not trade the Marsh for a lot of others I have used. I have run engines in five different states, and was eight years in North Dakota and run some large engines there, have had 3 full rigs and 5 engines in all. besides corn shredders, and filling silos and hulling clover, saw-milling and moving buildings, all with STEAM and I know what it is to get into a deep mud hole or to pull through sand, but I always made it.