Combine Party


| February 2002



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Wheat harvest at the Frank Waterman farm

The sun hung high in the sky when friends and neighbors gathered last June at Frank and Dottie Waterman's farm near Nokomis, Ill. It was wheat-cutting time, and the crowd had come to help with and watch the progress of what has become an annual event - bringing in the harvest with Frank's collection of vintage combines.

The varied makes and models of pull-type combines, and the tractors pulling them, soon were rolling across the golden field. Moving methodically through the ripened wheat, the combines cut the grain and dumped it into an antique grain wagon that once belonged to Dottie's father. From there, it was headed to town.

With the specially planted 10-acre field yielding some 50 bushels of grain per acre, the combines had to work extra hard. In their heyday, they more commonly brought in harvests of about 25 bushels an acre.

This contemporary 'threshing party' has been going on for about five years now, but the reasons for it date back to Frank's youth. 'It was a JD 30 that started all this mess,' he recalled. He bought a 1950's-era John Deere 30 combine about 15 years ago because his father had always wanted one.

'Dad had a John Deere 25,' he said, 'and every night he would say he needed a 30.' The desire to own a 30 was tied to a piece of stubborn cloth. Back in the late 1950s, Frank explained, canvas was commonly used on many pull-type combines, including his dad's JD 25.

As Frank described it, 'Using canvas was a 10-cuss-word job.' During harvest, the combine canvas routinely had to be replaced several times because cockleburs and other debris would get caught in it, slowing progress through the field. Canvas was sold at most grain elevators back then, but replacing it was a cumbersome, time-consuming job.

genet
7/9/2014 1:15:59 PM

I have a JD #30 which came with a "belt pickup" but no drive V belt or pulley on pickup end. What length belt? Replace drive with CX type belt best? Urgent! Rye is ripening. Thanks, GLT