YE OLD TIME HORSE POWER THRESHING DAYS

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The rare little Springfield at the Rough and Tumble Engineers Reunion, 1951. Mr. Vic Winter mantel of Bellevue, Pa., found this engine and Mr. Arthur S. Young bought it and restored it. It is a very interesting piece of machinery
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Mr. Edgar S. Smith of 2223 B Avenue, N.E., Cedar Rapids, lowa, pruning grape vines in February 1950. See ye Old Time Horse Power Threshing Days
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Mr. L. W. Baer standing beside a Baldwin cabbage head stack, wood burning, 2-6-2 locomotive. Used every working day at Bradenton, Florida. The engine was built in 1913.The Blakers were sunshining in
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22,23 B Avenue N. E., Cedar Rapids, Iowa

THE SET UP

Before pulling the separator in between four conical beehive
shaped stocks of grain, the separator man tosses a handful of chaff
into the air to see which way the wind blows. It is preferable to
have the wind from the side or front to coming from the straw
carrier end. A tail wind blows the chaff and dust back over the
separator, the workmen the wag-on of threshed grain and is an all
around disagreeable position to be avoided is possible.

The separator is now pulled in between the beehive stacks of
grain. A hasty survey of the lay of the land shows the experienced
eye what wheels must be lowered to make the separator stand level.
This is quite necessary in order for smooth operation of the
machine and to avoid the threshed grain from blowing; by the fan
over into the straw carrier. The dirt is removed in front of the
high wheels and the team eases the separator forward into position.
A hasty chock is made by using the level to verify workmanship of
setting her level the separator is feminine gender.

The straw carrier that is hinged about the middle and bent back
over the rear of the separator, is straightened out; the rear end
elevated about six feet, the well of slats that carries the straw
are buckled up to the ‘right position; the belts are all put on
their respective pulleys; the sieves changed if need be, and
likewise the concaves.

In front, the tables on which the bundles are to be tossed, and
the plat form on which the feeder and two band cutters stand are
put in their respective positions; the feeding board is set at
proper slant, the cylinders turned by hand to see there is no
collision between its teeth aid those in the concaves below; the
talley tox is set at naught and the half bushel measure put under
the the same. The oil can then goes into action with special care
to fill the oil cup on each side of the cylinder for here is where
you may expect ‘a hot box’.

While this was going on the trap-wagon was being unloaded of
tumbling rods, knuckles, a jack, sweeps, equalizing rods, stakers,
sledge hammers, and braces for the horse power. The tumbling rods
are lined up with the gear on the cylinder and connected by the
flexible knuckles with the gears of the horse power that has been
pulled into position.

Thump, thump, thump comes the sound from the synchronizing blows
of two 16 pound sledge hammers as they drive the iron bounded
wooden stakes into the ground to anchor the horse power; the inner
end of each sweep is put in its respective socket on the bull
wheel; the equalizing rods hooked to the chain running through the
pulley on the outer end of the sweep and this end of the setup is
ready for the teams to be hitched. Soon that is done and they are
ready to pursue their circuitous course.

Men, by the aid of three tined pitch forks, have climbed up to
the tops of the stacks of grain where they stand on one foot and
one knee poised with a bundle to throw when the signal is
given.

The man of the hour now mounts the feeder’s platform, ties
a. red bandanna handkerchief around his neck, puts on a pair of
dust goggles, a. pair of well oiled gloves; and looking over the
side of the separator to see that the talley-man is ready, and
lastly, like an orchestra leader, faces the man on the horse power,
raises his right hand, cuts a semi-circle in the air and yells,
‘Let ’em roll.’

The driver gives the well known thresher’s whistle, well
known to the horses in a short time too, swings his whip at the end
of a long fish pole like a whip-stock; the chains running through
the pulleys at the end of each sweep is stretched straight as each
team begins its circuitous journey leaning into their leather
collars and the dust and noise begin to rise.

The gearing on the separator, driven by tumbling rods, which in
turn are driven by the horse power, starts off with a lot of bull
dog growl, rises in pitch as the speed of the horse power is
accelerated. The man who is now ready to feed in the grain, judges
the entire ensemble is in tune and ready for all the workmen to
begin their parts.

The bands on the bundle tables have been cut, so he reaches out
to the right, draws one or two over in front of the revolving
cylinder, now clipping off at the rate of speed that makes the
teeth invisible, tosses the butts of the. bundles slightly up and
across the cylinder and in the meantime draws in from the left side
more bundles, and thus from right to left he moves and fans out the
bundles as they are drawn in by the cylinder. There is a skill in
the feeding operation not easily described or acquired.

The threshing ensemble is a superb example of cooperative
activity of a neighborhood, and includes the women, who prepare the
meals for the gang. Here there is no evidence of social inequality,
national prejudices, for the ‘gang’ may be made up, as
after the case out on the prairie, of Irish, Dutch, Dane, German,
Swede, Norwegian, English and Yanks.

Work is exchanged between these groups. Here they learn to work
together, and since they wash together, wipe together, eat
together, they make friend Ships that last forever.

The scene of this threshing was within a radius of fifteen
miles, with some variation as to kind of grain, whether stacked or
in the shock.

THE THRESHING MACHINES

The threshing machine was a J. I. Case 32 inch cylinder and 10
horsepower, or the 36 inch cylinder and 12 horse power. A
rattlin’ good and efficient ma chine all of the min their day.
It surpassed the old Buffalo-Pitts operated by Ben Long at one
time, and just as good as the Aultman-Taylor owned and operated by
John McDermott, and just as many roosters starved by depending on
the grain left in the straw stack. A plaque of a bedraggled, poorly
feathered, half starved rooster was fastened on the side of the
Aultman-Taylor separator as emblematic of the thoroughness with
which the machine separated the grain from the straw.

There was the marathon run of the big 36′ J. I. Case, 2000
bushels of oats between sunrise and sunset, and an other marathon
run of the smaller 32′ J. I. Case of 1500 bushels of oats in
one day.

The invasion of the Aultman-Taylor in Moville township by a
neighbor deprived us of the local monopoly and reduced the
threshing price pen bushel: Wheat from 4 cents to 3 cents; Oats
from 3 cents to 2 cents; and Flax from 8 cents to 6 cents.
(Threshers didn’t use fractions.,

The operators of the J. I. C’s. might have been any three or
four of the following: The Smith brothers, Frank, Joe and Edthis in
the order of age and seniority of threshing experience; Mike Haley,
Joe Parker; Frank Andrews, Elmer Bloomer, .Joe Robb, Isaac
Leviness, Byron Graham.

We threshed far out upon the prairie and around the rim of the
horizon. Small grain was easily grown on the new fertile prairie
land: the yield was abundant The. principal small grain crops were
in about this order of acreage: oats, spring wheat, flax, barley,
rye and timothy. Clover had not yet arrived on the prairie. Many an
acre of flax was grown on the prairie sod the .same spring; the
land was broken.

During- the threshing- season Ions lines of teams waited at the
elevators at Kingsley, Iowa, to weigh in and unload. This shows
also the urgent need of the prairie grain farmer for cash. The
threshing season extended until snow fell, and sometimes later.
Then we finished husking our corn in the spring. Gone are, the
threshing days of yore but their melodies (?) linger on.

Here is a unique arrangement for making an engine work. It was
used at the Rough and Tumble Engineer Reunion in 1351. It is a
Groton engine running a dead Case. The Case was reversed and the
live engine pumped the dead one full of air. When the air pressure
in the dead engine got within 15 or 20 lbs., of the steam pressure
of the live engine there was plenty of ‘barking.’ It did
not prove a thing but it was a lot of fun. That Groton engine was
acclaimed by many to be the nicest handling engine of the bunch

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