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The standard binder combines the cutter and draft of the reaper with the reel and traveling canvases of the header, and adds the automatic device for binding the grain in sheaves, and the bundle carrier for collecting them in piles. The operator can adjust the reel at will while the machine is in motion. An endless canvas on the platform of the machine conveys the cut grain to two similar canvases, between which the grain is elevated to the opposite side of the drive wheel. It is there received and packed into a bundle by the binding device. As the size of the bundle increases, the resulting pressure trips the binder, which binds automatically as often as it is tripped. The pressure required for this, and consequently the size of the bundle, can be regulated. While in operation, the entire machine can be adjusted to variations in the grain and in the levelness of the field. The most usual width of cut is 6 feet, but machines cutting different widths are made. One man with three horses will harvest from 10 to 20 acres per day with the binder, and it requires two other men to shock what is cut. A bonanza farmer expects such an outfit to cut 250 acres in a season. On the Dalrymple farms of Dakota, binders with 7-foot cut are used, and about 15 are run in one crew. Each crew or gang has its overseer. A wagon follows with water, twine and other articles, while a gang of shockers set up the wheat as fast as it is cut. In the United States the binder is used in every state which raises wheat, while abroad it is used quite extensively in England, Russia, Germany, France and parts of South America, and to a less extent in other countries where wheat is grown.
The Header-Binder is the most recent development in binders, and is, as the name suggests, merely a binder attached to the header. It has the wide cut of the header and the grain can be cut in the same condition as with a binder or reaper. These machines have found quite extensive favor in the Dakotas, Kansas, Oklahoma, on the Pacific coast, and in Argentina.
In binding wheat, a 10,000-acre farm uses two carloads of twine in a single harvest, an amount that would lay a line around the whole coast of England, Ireland and Scotland. It is estimated that the United States consumes annually from 110,000 to 120,000 tons of binder twine.
Shocking.—We found in a previous chapter that the ripening process in wheat involves a transfer of material from the straw to the grain. If the grain is cut before it is dead ripe, as is usually the case, this transferring process is not completed at harvest. Under these circumstances the completion of the ripening process is greatly aided by prompt shocking and capping, and loss will result if the grain is not thus protected from the hot sun and wind. This purpose is best accomplished by round shocks with caps. If the sheaves are large, or if the grain is green or weedy, it is customary to put 12 bundles in a shock. Their disposition is as follows: Three pairs are placed in a row; two bundles are then placed on each side of the row; the eleventh bundle is placed on top of the shock, and the twelfth, after its ends have been spread fan-shape, is placed crosswise of the eleventh. In a shock of 16 bundles, the disposition is the same, only that four pairs are placed in the row, and three in each side. A method of shocking that is quicker and more advantageous when the grain is practically ripe at cutting consists of placing any convenient number of pairs of bundles in a row. In any method, efficiency and economy of time demand that two sheaves be handled at once.
Combined Harvesters include all combinations of machines designed to leave both straw and charf in the field and to deliver the wheat cleaned ready for market. The combined harvester is the culmination of the modern movement of discoveries and inventions pertaining to harvesting machinery. With this machine the wheat is cut, gathered, threshed, cleaned, and even sacked without a single touch from the human hand. On one side the rain is cut, and on the other side it is dropped at regular intervals in piles of filled and tied sacks, ready for the market. Every operation, except sewing up the sacks, is mechanically and automatically performed by the application of horse or steam power. In economy, in capacity and thoroughness of work, in perfection of mechanical construction, and in ease of operation, there is apparently little more to be attained. The combined harvester can be used advantageously in a dry climate only, where there is little fear of rain, and no great dews, which should be off before the middle of the forenoon. It also cannot be used where the grain is moistened by the damp breath of the ocean, as in western Oregon.
Ridley, an Englishman residing in Australia, invented a combined harvester in 1845 which employed the principle of the ancient machine of Gaul and attracted considerable attention. This type of combined harvester, commonly known as the “stripper,” is still used in Australia, and is especially adapted to the dry harvest seasons prevalent in that country. Strippers have been manufactured in Canada and in the United States. They have been tried in California and Washington, but the atmospheric conditions did not seem suited to them. In Argentina, however, their introduction seems quite successful.
This machine strips the heads from the stalks of standing wheat by means of a comb resembling the ordinary sickle guard in appearance. Directly above the rear of the comb is a drum about 18 inches in diameter in which works a rapidly revolving beater which aids the comb in the decapitating process and furnishes a draft which carries the heads up into the threshing cylinder. This consists of teeth revolving within stationary teeth, and the threshing is more of a rubbing than a battering process. From the cylinder the grain and straw pass to the sieves over a vibrating metal table. Imperfectly threshed grains are returned to the cylinder. The straw and chaff is discharged at the rear of the machine, and the winnowed grain is carried to the top of the machine by a belt and cup elevator. Here the grain is screened. The screenings and the perfect grain pass to separate bins, from which they are bagged. A receiving box drops the bags in piles of four or five. Some of the machines discharge the straw and chaff under the middle of the machine, and fill the bags automatically.
The stripper can be used only in wheat that is ripe, dry, and free from weeds, for otherwise the grain will not thresh clean and the machine will clog. It is suited only to non-shattering wheat, which is not lost in the operation of harvesting. The expense of harvesting in this manner is estimated to be from one-fifth to one-half that of binding and threshing wheat. With a boy to ride the lead horse, one man can operate the machine, and from four to seven horses can easily draw it. A machine taking a five-foot swath will cover from 6 to 10 acres per day. In 1902 the price of these machines was $750 gold in Argentina, but it has since been reduced.
The combined harvesters used in the United States are restricted by climate to the Pacific coast, and may be divided into two classes on the basis of the power used, whether animal or steam. In the work and operation of these two classes of machines, there is, in the main, only a difference in capacity. The standard horse-power machine cuts a swath from 16 to 20 feet wide; is drawn by 24 to 40 horses; harvests from 25 to 45 acres of wheat per day; and requires four men to operate it. It requires a machine man to regulate the cutting bar and look after the machine in general; a steersman, a man to manipulate the sacks and tie them, and a driver. This is the most advantageous harvester to use on the smaller farms, those having less than 3,000 acres. It was used successfully before 1880, but its sale and manufacture in a commercial way did not begin until 1885.
The Steam Harvester has a cutting bar from 24 to 42 feet long, requires eight men to operate it, and harvests from 75 to 125 acres per day at a cost of from 30 to 50 cents per acre, which is the cost of the mere twine with which the sheaves are bound when the wheat is harvested with a binder. The traction engine or motive power is independent of the harvester proper. An auxiliary engine is mounted on the frame of the harvester. Steam conveyed to this engine from the boiler of the traction engine constitutes the driving power for running the cylinder, separator, header, and recleaner, ‘‘the effect being a steady and uniform motion of all parts at all times and in all conditions of the grain and at any speed at which the harvester may be traveling.’’
The traction engine is 110 horse-power, has double engines, and nine to 12-inch cylinders. The driving or carrying wheels are eight feet in diameter, and have a width of 32, 40 or 60 inches, according to the nature of the ground on which the machine is to be operated. This style of outfit is used very largely on the reclaimed tule lands. The separator has a cylinder from 26 to 40 inches in length. The mechanism of the machine is so perfected that the feeder, cylinder, grain carrier, shoe, and all cleaning devices remain in a level position upon uneven land and no matter how the machine is set. Thus under all conditions the machine does substantially the same work as upon a dead level.
The greatest width machine that was ever put out was an experimental one of 52 feet. It was built by a farmer, and was not a success on account of its construction. While successful machines with a width of 40 and 42 feet have been turned out, there are two standard large size machines, both smaller. One cuts a width of 25 feet, while the other consists of a 22-foot header with a 12-foot extension, making 34 feet in all. The machines of a greater width can scarcely be considered as a single machine. They consist of a regular cut of about 16 feet, with an addition of about 12 feet, making 28 feet for the machine proper. Then an independent header pushed by horses delivers to the outer canvas, thus making the 42 feet. Such an outfit is used only in the very lightest crop, and its exceptional cut is of advantage, not only in covering more ground, but also in keeping the thresher and cleaner sufficiently supplied with grain to insure the best work. The manufacturers claim that “the steam harvester can handle grain in almost any condition, whether it is standing, lodged, tangled or overgrown with weeds.”
A Complete Outfit for thus harvesting grain consists of traction engine, auxiliary engine, thresher, header, water-tank wagon and cook-house. The average price of such an outfit is about $7,500. The great expense and capacity of these machines make them suitable only for the larger farms, those containing from 3,000 to 20,000 acres of land. The steam combined harvester was put on the market in a commercial way in 1892. The average life of the machine is from 8 to 15 years. The great advantages of this machine are economy in time and power on account of combining so many operations in one, the rapidity with which grain may be marketed after it is ripe, the small amount of human labor required, the diminution of risk from fire, and the waste of grain which is avoided.
It is a Pacific coast production and its sale is at present confined almost exclusively to that section of the world. It is the typical machine of the “Inland Empire,” a name applied to all of the Pacific northwest east of the Cascades and Sierras. At least two-thirds of the wheat of California is reaped with the combined harvester. It is a novel, interesting and picturesque valley scene to see this ponderous harvester sweeping through miles upon miles of ripened wheat, devouring swaths from 16 to