A Threshing Demonstration|
By Michael Delaney
I bring you greetings from Prince Edward Island, Canada. We are Canada’s smallest province but big on farming. Maybe you’ve heard of us. Potatoes are our biggest crop. However, there is lots of mixed farming here also.
I have a small mixed farm with 25-30 cattle. I make very good use of old machinery. I have a 135 MF Diesel, Farmall H and 1/3 share in an Allis B. I have complete lines of tillage and harvest equipment, and a saw gear etc. I have everything one would expect to find on a small mixed farm in the fifties, all in working condition.
PEI had a flourishing farm machinery manufacturing industry from 1870-1945. A local firm manufactured wooden threshers and fanning mills. I am most pleased to provide a picture and related story on one such piece, a number 4CA threshing Mill with a homemade self feeder, factory bagger, and straw blower. It was built in the early 40's.
This past September, I put on a threshing demonstration in my community, we put through ½ of a load of sheaves of wheat. I cut three rounds in a 12-acre wheat field with a 5-foot Massey Harris Binder I also own. It worked well. We took off about 800 lb of wheat which is currently being milled into flour.
About the Mill...
The feeder is made out of spruce boards and consists of an apron which feeds the sheaves into the drum. It is driven off the main shaft of the mill. An ancillary belt drives a partial “gang” set of discs from a horse drawn set. It turns opposite to the apron and cuts the strings of the sheaf. It was homemade and designed by a local farmer sometime in the forties to replace a man whose job was to cut the band and feed the mill. I found the iron in the woods in 1980, and with a little machine work and help from a carpenter was able to rebuild it. A major problem was to get the speed right . . . some four pullies later.
The Mill was built by the Hall Manufacturing Company sometime in the forties. The drum and concave are spike-tooth and about 24" in width. The threshed grain and straw are elevated to the shaker by canvass and slats similar to a binder. The shaker and straw walker made of wood is driven by a reciprocating offset shaft stabilized by two pieces of hardwood. The last owner of Halls manufacturing was in attendance. He remembered soaking metal parts of the shaker in seawater. The resulting rust in wood was better than glue. The grain drops onto and through a riddle where the rest of the separation takes place. A wooden adjustable fan supplied the necessary wind. There are two pans one for tailings and one for grain which dumps into a bagger, a factory option which was a series of cups on chain and two sprockets much like the elevator leg of today. The bagger came complete with retention clips to anchor the bag, and a diverter so that another bag could be filled while the full one is removed. The only problem we had was the odd slack belt. We got around that problem by lacing pullies with twine to increase their diameter, and resizing some of the main belts. In the forties, they used to stook thresh in PEI. The sheaves were hauled in and then threshed weekly during the winter when time was not at a premium.
I powered the Mill with both my Farmall “H” and Allis “B”. Allis was at her limit for power, but had no problem running it. The “H” played with it since she’s a bigger tractor.
Hall’s basic mills did not come with a blower. Small volume farmers had a man who forked it from the back of the machine. However, it wasn’t long till Halls sold a blower kit. It consisted of an extra pulley to run a side mounted fan, and blower pipe. The farmers supplied the necessary labour, tinwork, and lumber to put it together. I have two blowers like the one in the picture. The last time this one was used was 50 years ago. It has babbitt bearings and oil cups on the fan shaft. It also worked A-1. It would blow the tailings and chaff wherever you wanted to put them. When done, we just baled up the straw and hauled it away.
I hope you enjoy the picture. I had a lot of help to pull this threshing event off and a lot of fun doing it.
I love belt driven equipment and old machinery. If I had the time I could tell you stories like you wouldn’t believe since I’ve been around this old stuff all my life, and I’m still using it. I’d love to hear from readers with similar experiences to share. My E-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
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