The Manitoba Agricultural Museum’s collection includes an Aetna push type windrower mounted on a Massey Harris 30 tractor, donated by the Reilly family of the Neepawa, Manitoba area. The Aetna was purchased in 1948 by Oscar Reilly and operated by Alvin E. Reilly for 12 consecutive seasons. It cut between 400 to 900 acres a year on the Reilly farm plus it did custom work for other farmers in the area.
Not much is known about the Aetna Company other than that it had a manufacturing plant in Winnipeg. A number of Aetna push type windrowers were sold by Aetna in 1948; however, by 1949 Aetna was bankrupt and out of business. According to Alvin Reilly, the Reillys discovered that knives and guards from other manufacturers would fit the Aetna so the “wearable” items were not a huge problem. As the rest of the machine was simple, making repairs was fairly easy when necessary.
Basically, the machine is a swather table which is pushed ahead of a tractor. Two heavy c-channel irons run back from the table on either side of the tractor to the rear of the tractor. Across the back of the tractor is bolted a heavy piece of box-section iron. This box-section is connected to each c-channel though a simple hinge on either end of the box-section steel. These hinges allow the table to rise and fall independently of the rear of the tractor.
The swather has its own set of wheels mounted on the rear of the table so the tractor does not support the weight of the swather. These wheels are not fixed but can be pivoted. The swather wheels are connected to the tractors steering axle which allows the tractor driver to steer the tractor and the swather table.
The table is driven off the tractor’s PTO through a series of belts and a long shaft. The swather table can be manually raised and lowered from the tractor using a lift lever and quadrant. The lever works a long rod connected to the table. The table drops the cut grain out on the ground on the left side of the table so the tractor is not driving over the swath.
This page was prepared by Alex Campbell.
Page revised: 7 December 2022