Every thresherman purchasing a new machine wants to do just a little better work than his neighbor. It is therefore important that he should operate his machine properly in every particular. He should make every adjustment necessary to do good work. The cylinder should be run at the proper speed and the concaves adjusted to meet the existing conditions and kind of grain, so that all the heads will be threshed clean of every kernel. The more perfect the threshing, at the cylinder, the nearer the approach to perfect separation.
The true ‘Jackson Fork’ is arguably the single most iconic product invented by Byron Jackson, of early 1900’s San Francisco – but it was by no means the only important innovation/product Jackson engineered. As these old cuts testify, he designed many devices and systems for forage handling. Some, like the Threshing Outfits, were geared for handling large volumes of grain crop.
That neighborly spirit was strong during the threshing season. Threshing crews were common and necessary in the 1930s through the 1950s. Our Oak Grove Ridge had about 12 to 15 farmers that were on the threshing ring. Frank Fradette owned the threshing machine whose sole purpose was to separate the golden kernels of oats from their stalks. The stalks were spit out a big pipe by a powerful blower and formed a straw stack. The oats kernels were hauled to a granary for storage. Frank Fradette pulled the threshing machine with a big orange Minneapolis Moline tractor.
While the ‘view’ of old-tyme threshing is most always photogenic, and the beneficial social aspects of a threshing bee – where neighbors come together to share the work and have a good time – are wonderful to experience, we were interested this time around in the mechanical ‘interiors’ of the process. The paths and tension of the drive belts, the adjustments of everything, the mid-work servicings are all things which might escape most eyes. But for any of us who appreciate this decidedly appropriate technology for a handmade farming, such views can be helpful and even critically important.