Graham Bradley Model 104 Tractor (1938)

Graham Bradley Model
Graham Bradley Model

This unique tractor was donated by George and Lorna Webster of Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba. It is complete, including the often-misplaced side panels, and requires only a paint job to be a showpiece.

George tells about the tractor’s history:

“My dad George Webster Sr. bought the Graham Bradley from Consolidated Motors on Main Street in Winnipeg in partnership with my grandpa James Webster. The Bradley was purchased during the spring/summer of 1938. The dealership had a salesperson drive out from Winnipeg to the farm at Sperling, Manitoba. According to my father he arrived in a little over one hour. The Bradley had a very high-speed road gear, very unusual for the era. I believe the purchase price was $1,750. The Bradley was used through the Second World War to farm five quarter-sections of land in the immediate area of my grandpa and my father’s farms in the Sperling area. My dad and his two brothers would shift work on the Bradley. One would get off the tractor, the replacement would fuel it up, get on and go back to work. The Bradley would hardly cool off. They did the seeding and all farm work with the Bradley. It was the only tractor they had. It has worn out numerous sets of tires and at some point, the rear tires were up-sized for traction and I assume better ground speed. It has had a couple of valve jobs and possibly one re-ring. I do not believe the rod bearings have ever been changed in it. The rear differential has never been touched. Prior to going to the museum, it had not been started for 15 years. I put a battery in it and some gas and then tried to start it. It started up almost immediately. When the transport from the museum arrived, we put the ramps onto the trailer and I drove a 79-year-old tractor onto the trailer under its own power. My wife and I were very sad to see it go but we knew it was my dad’s wishes that it go to the Austin museum where it would remain as a functional unit. He knew there were almost no tractors like this in Canada and only a handful in the US. We were fully in agreement for it to go to the museum.”

In 1937 Sears-Roebuck decided to add tractors to their mail order catalogue and retail stores. Rather than simply re-badge a production tractor, they approached the Graham Paige automobile company to build a tractor for them. The Bradley garden tractor company assisted with the design, thus the tractor name. Rated at 25 drawbar horsepower, it used a six-cylinder 217 cubic-inch Graham Paige car engine, built by Continental. The remainder of the tractor was designed by Graham Paige and, for the time, was quite advanced. It came standard with starter and lights, cushioned seat, four-speed transmission, a 20-mph road gear and steering brakes. All gauges and controls were grouped on a styled dash panel.

One of the first tractors to be “streamlined,” its appearance was reminiscent of the sporty cars for which Graham Paige was known. An unusual feature is that the belt pulley is driven from the transmission output shaft, and the differential is disengaged for belt work; this provided four speeds and reverse for the pulley. Selecting the wrong gear may have produced some interesting results depending on the machine being driven. The tractors were advertised as “built by Graham, equipped by Bradley, guaranteed by Sears.”

Unfortunately, Sears decided to stop selling tractors after only about 2,000 were built. Of these, perhaps fewer than 100 were the wide-front Model 104. Without a dealer network, Graham Paige ceased production in 1939. The company suspended automobile production in 1942 to concentrate on war contracts. It was purchased by the Kaiser Corporation after the war and produced Kaiser and Frazer cars. Tractor production never resumed. Today, Graham Bradley tractors are somewhat rare, and this one is even less common, being the “Wheatland” Model 104 rather than the more common tricycle row crop. Fewer than 30 may be left in existence.

Stewart Sheaf Loader

Stewart sheaf loader
Stewart sheaf loader

The Manitoba Agricultural Museum has three intact Stewart Sheaf Loaders in the collection. Given the machine was built with a steel frame made of square steel tubing and flat iron, materials which would have been very useful in other projects when the useful life of the machine had passed, the survival of three machines to be donated to the Museum indicates the Steward Sheaf Loader was sold in some numbers. 

Of the three Stewarts in the collection, two were built by the Stewart company and the third one was built by the Acme Manufacturing company which purchased the design in the late 1920s and continued production of the loader after the Stewart company ceased production. The Acme in the Museum’s collection was donated by the Jordan Family of Altamonte, Manitoba. 

The handling of sheaves in the field was a sufficiently large enough problem that a number of pieces of equipment were developed to address the problem. The Steward Sheaf Loader was one such machine and offered the ability to load sheaves on a wagon faster and with less physical labor.

Stewart sheaf loader

The Stewart Sheaf Loader is a simple machine consisting of a pickup which picked up stooks of sheaves and elevated the sheaves several feet in order to drop them onto a cross elevator equipped with a slatted chain which then took the sheaves higher up into the air and dropped them on to a sheaf wagon being driven along side the Sheaf Loader.  

The machine was originally ground driven however late model loaders had the option of being PTO driven as, by the late 1920s, many tractors had the option of being fitted with PTOs. As stated earlier, the Stewards were built with a frame made out of square steel tubing and flat iron. One of the Stewards in the collection has a wooden deck on the pickup which indicates it is a fairly early machine. The other two have galvanized steel decks on the pickup. The decks of the elevators on all three machines were made out of galvanized steel sheeting as were the sides of the pickup. The sides of the elevators on all three machines are wooden boards on a steel frame.

The machines were driven beside a row of stooks with the stooks then being picked up and elevated into sheaf wagons, taken to the thresher & threshed.  The loader cut in half the number of men and teams needed by the outfit which was a big saving to the farmer and more than likely a welcome relief to the farmer’s wife and daughters who had to prepare meals for a hungry threshing crew. 

The sheaf wagons could be any one of a variety of designs, a basket rack with built up sides, a barge type body or just a normal rack with ends. More than likely, a basket rack was preferred. The right side of the basket was higher than the left side in an effort to maximize capacity and reduce the chances of sheafs being thrown over the wagon. When pitching the sheaves into a thresher, the wagon was parked so the low side was beside the threshing machine’s feeder in order to reduce the labor involved in pitching.

Stewart sheaf loader working in field

It has been suggested to the Museum that many veteran sheaf pitchers who loaded sheaf wagons by hand did so in a pattern so that the pitcher knew where to stand when pitching sheafs into the thresher and not be attempting to pitch a sheaf that he was standing on. Obviously with a wagon loaded by a Steward, the sheafs were loaded helter skelter onto the wagon so the pitcher could have more work unloading the wagon.

There are ads showing other pieces of labor saving sheaf handling equipment such as end dump sheaf wagons. There were three companies advertising end dump wagons in the 1913 Canadian Thresherman and Farmer magazine; Perfection, Maytag and Hart. As well, there is an ad for a threshing machine feeder with an feeder apron that dropped onto the ground. If a farmer had a loader, end dump wagons and a dropped feeder apron then handling sheaves would have reduced significantly the physical labor of handling sheafs.

The Steward Sheaf Loader Company Ltd. owned an office and plant at 470 Martin Avenue in Winnipeg and appears to have operated between 1910 and sometime in the mid to late 1920s. Most of the company’s output was sold in Western Canada and it appears sheaf loaders were not used to any great extent in the US.

The Steward Sheaf Loader originated with the Stewart Family of Molesworth, Ontario where the family was involved in farming. The eldest brother, Peter “M” Stewart, moved west in 1879, a common story with Ontario farming families as land was cheaper to obtain in the West. He went farming in the Neepawa, Manitoba area.  Dave Albert, Robert C. and John F. Stewart , all of whom were very fond of “tinkering” with machinery, remained in Molesworth, Ontario.   According to Stewart Family history, Dave Albert and Robert C., were the inventive ones, while John F. did the farm-work and was an excellent blacksmith that brought the ideas to reality.  Jennie Stewart, a sister, should also get credit in the Steward Sheaf Loader story as she was very good with numbers and aided in the design calculations that helped produce the loader.  

The Stewart brothers remaining in Ontario came up with the idea of a sheaf loader from their experience in threshing grain and thinking about how the amount of hand work could be cut down. Patents on the machine were taken out in 1902 and 1905. A prototype sheaf loader was built in their workshop in Molesworth then crated and shipped by rail in 1905 to Neepawa, Manitoba for trial on the farm of their brother Peter “M”. The first trial, however, was not a success, owing to the heaviness of the oat crop.  Family history also indicates there were problems stemming from the fact the stooks of oat sheaves had stood in the field for a long time. Perhaps the oat plants had started growing from the root and a heavy growth of new oats was impeding the pickup?  But whatever the cause the Stewart brothers decided the loader was not heavy enough to do the job. So, the loader was re-crated and shipped back to Molesworth.  Here, the brothers set about rebuilding it, adding larger gears & a larger “bull wheel”.  This time, it did work.  The machine was then shown at the Winnipeg Exhibition in Winnipeg, about 1910.  The Stewart Sheaf Loader went into production at 470 Martin Avenue, Elmwood, a suburb of Winnipeg, where the Stewart Brothers had obtained a manufacturing facility.  

The Stewart Sheaf Loader was used all over the western prairies and cost about $400.00 to buy.  David Albert took out another patent on improvements to the sheaf loader in Winnipeg in 1912 and John F. took out a duplicate one in Ontario in 1912. These patients related to a change in how the elevator was driven. Originally, the elevator’s slatted chain was driven by sprockets at the bottom of the elevator on the right side of the machine (when you are standing at the back of the machine). The Stewards determined that it was better that the slatted chain be powered by sprockets at the top of the elevator as the slatted chain, sheaves and all,was then being pulled to the top of the elevator. The old arrangement saw the chain being pulled all the way around the elevator which required more power and also resulted in slats being broken on the chain for some reason. Testimonials from farmers who converted Steward Sheaf loaders to the new drive arrangement indicate one less horse was required with the remaining horses remaining in better shape and the problem with breaking slats disappearing.

The Stewart brothers probably got into the “inventing” business because they liked working with machines and were very good at it.  The Sheaf Loader was only one of many things they designed and patented over the years.  The rights to one of these (the straw cutter on the threshing machine) was later sold to the “George White Company”, that built threshers.  David Albert Stewart eventually returned to Molesworth and all 3 brothers are buried there.

The Stewart Sheaf Loaders was built commercially from 1910 to some time in the 1920s. It appears the Acme Manufacturing Company then purchased the Stewart Sheaf Loader design and built further machines. With combines coming into use on the Prairies by the mid 1920s, the market for sheaf loaders slowly dried up. Oddly enough, sheaf loaders seem to be mainly a Canadian development and few were sold into the US. It is not known when the Acme Company discontinued the production of sheaf loaders.

A fellow by the name of Nelson Jackson used a Stewart Sheaf Loader on a Neepawa area farm in 1913 and decided he could improve on the machine by combining the rack and sheaf loader into one machine. He moved to Brandon and began manufacturing his machine there. The Jackson Sheaf Loader featured an elevator that directly picked up the sheafs, elevated them and dumped them into a carrier at the back of the machine. When the carrier was full the machine was taken over to the thresher and the sheaf dumped beside the feeder. While these sheafs were being forked into the thresher, the Jackson loader returned to the field for another load of sheafs. The downfall of the Jackson appears to have been the weight of the machine, particularly when loaded with sheafs. Another problem would be breakdowns. With the Steward if the loader broke down, the farmer could revert to forking sheafs into the sheaf wagons and so limp along until repairs were made. If a Jackson broke down, then everything came to a halt until repairs were made. Sometime around the end of World War One, Jackson moved his company to Saskatoon and resumed manufacturing the loaders there. However business soon dried up and the company pursued other ideas.

Cockshutt Number 7 Pull Type Combine

cockshutt number 7

Before Cockshutt built its well known self propelled combines, Cockshutt built a couple of pull type combines models. The Number 6 was in production in 1939 and 1940 and the Number 7 replaced the 6 in 1941.  

The Number 7 featured a 38 inch cylinder with a 6 foot or 8 foot cutting table width. The machine was available either with power take off drive or an auxiliary engine drive. The auxiliary engine option featured a 4 cylinder Hercules IXB-3 gasoline engine. The grain tank held 35 bushels. A re-cleaner has been fitted to this machine.  

Oddly for a pull type combine the table is on the right side of the machine. Standard practice was for a left hand side table.  

The machine was put into production in 1941 to replace the Cockshutt Number 6 combine and may have remained in production until 1954 when the Cockshutt Model 422 pull type combine was introduced.  

cockshutt number 7

Canadian farm implement manufacturers continued to produce farm machinery and parts through the Second World World War but at a much reduced level of production. It was important for Canada to fill Britain’s need for food. To complicate matters, much farm labor had enlisted in Canada’s armed forces leading to farm labor shortages. So the Canadian government decided that steel, other materials and factory space had to be allocated to farm machinery production as this machinery was needed to replace the lost labor. The government allocated materials to specific types of machines on a complicated formula based on 1940 production, demand for farm products  and the amount of labor saved by a particular machine. Overall production was set at about 25% of 1940 production of complete machines with parts production at 150% of 1940 production. The Cockshutt annual report for 1942 listed the shipment of 500 Number 7 combines in the fall of 1942.  

The MAM collection includes a Cockshutt Number 7 pull type combine however this combine is painted in Co-op colors.  

Cockshutt wanted to increase sales in 1945 which meant it had to get into the US market. Cockshutt and the US based National Farm Machinery Co-operative (NFMC) came to an agreement where Cockshutt implements were sold through NFMC outlets across 11 states. Frost and Wood, a subsidiary of Cockshutt which made haying and harvesting equipment .was also included in this deal. The deal with NFMC allowed Cockshutt into 11 states where Cockshutt had no previous presence and all at a low cost.  

However to get the deal with NFMC, Cockshutt also had to agree to supply equipment to Canadian Co-operative Implements Limited (CCIL).  Cockshutt was not in favor of supplying equipment to CCIL as CCIL would be in competition for sales of equipment with Cockshutt operations in Western Canada. However the NFMC was adamant that CCIL was to be included. The deciding factor was that both Co-ops agreed to take a large amount of equipment and would pay for this equipment in advance. As Cockshutt at the time was in the process of developing its own tractor line and expanding its combine line, this money was needed by Cockshutt and so Cockshutt agreed to supply NFMC and CCIL. Cockshutt painted the equipment supplied to both co-ops in each of the co-ops color schemes. The orange used by CCIL was different in shade from the orange used by NFMC.

Cockshutt Tiller Combine

Cockshutt tiller combine
Cockshutt tiller combine

Along with moldboard plows, the Cockshutt Plow Company Limited also built disc plows. Disc plows are suitable for the very sticky soils found in many areas. These soils pose problems for moldboard plows. Cockshutt built both horse drawn disc plows and tractor drawn disc plows which ranged in size from one disc to five discs. Along with Cockshutt built plows, Cockshutt also sold the Angell Disc Plow from the Ohio Cultivator Company which came in 6 ft, 8 ft and 10 ft sizes with 20 inch discs. Selling the Angell allowed Cockshutt to offer a more complete line of tillage equipment with a minimum investment. From the Ohio Cultivator Company point of view, an arrangement with Cockshutt increased sales in Canada, an area where the company had no presence, and all at a low cost to Ohio.

cockshutt tiller combine

However, in 1931, Cockshutt took the Angell concept and made a huge leap forward. Cockshutt designed their version of the Angell making a number of improvements along with one important innovation, that of mounting a seed box on the machine. This machine they called a tiller combine.

Cockshutt tiller combine

The Cockshutt Tiller Combine featured disc blades mounted 7 1/2 inches apart. The disc blades were 24 inches in diameter which was a smaller disc than the 30 blades featured on Cockshutt disc plows. All blades were mounted on a single shaft, raised and lowered by a power lift. The shaft was supported on ball bearings, so the entire assembly (shaft and blades) rotated. The depth of penetration of the soil by the blades could be adjusted. When seeding, the seed box dropped the seed down tubes which ran immediately in front of the shaft, and close to the back of each blade. Each blade had its own tube. As the seed was dropped, the blade following behind threw dirt over the seed.

For 1931, the Cockshutt Tiller Combine was a revolutionary concept as the machine was a combined plow, light disc and seeder. Only one field operation was necessary, that of seeding the land in the spring. Fall plowing  was not necessary,  which saved time, money and even more importantly, conserved moisture and reduced soil erosion as the stubble was left on the field to trap snow and slow down the wind at the surface of the soil. When seeding, the combine tiller left a rough surface which aided in reducing wind erosion. The tiller combine did not pulverize the soil, which also aided in reducing soil erosion. Given the drought conditions of the 1930s, the Cockshutt Tiller Combine was the right machine at the right time.

Cockshutt tiller combine

 The Cockshutt Tiller Combine was available in 3.5 ft and 4 ft sizes, suitable for horse traction. The Tiller Combine was also produced in 6 ft, 8 ft and 10 ft sizes suitable for various sizes of tractors.

In 1931, Cockshutt sold 100 units. While this number is small, one must remember the conditions experienced in 1931 of a widespread and serious drought, a collapse in farm prices and a sever economic recession. 100 units in this context was a significant achievement which indicates the concept behind the Tiller Combine was a solid one, that farmers saw value in. Further proof that the concept was a good one was the copying of the Cockshutt Tiller Combine by other farm equipment manufacturers in the years after 1931.

The MAM collection includes  several Cockshutt Tiller Combines including one set up for horse operation with an operator’s seat on the machine. The collection also includes a Cockshutt Tiller Combine painted Canadian Co-operative Implements Limited Orange and sold through CCIL. This machine was built sometime after mid-1945.

Cockshutt wanted to increase sales in 1945, which meant it had to get into the US market. Cockshutt and the US-based National Farm Machinery Co-operative (NFMC) came to an agreement where Cockshutt implements were sold through NFMC outlets across 11 states. Frost and Woods (a subsidiary of Cockshutt) which made haying and harvesting equipment, was also included in this deal. The deal with NFMC allowed Cockshutt into 11 states where Cockshutt had no previous presence, and all at a low cost.

However, to get the deal with NFMC, Cockshutt also had to agree to supply equipment to Canadian Co-operative Implements Limited (CCIL). Cockshutt was not in favor of supplying equipment to CCIL, as CCIL would be in competition for sales of equipment with Cockshutt operations in Western Canada. However, the NFMC was adamant that CCIL was to be included. The deciding factor was that both Co-ops agreed to take a large amount of equipment and would pay for this equipment in advance. As Cockshutt at the time was in the process of developing its own tractor line and expanding its combine line, this money was needed by Cockshutt. And so Cockshutt agreed to supply NFMC and CCIL. Cockshutt painted the equipment supplied to both co-ops in each of the co-op’s color schemes. The orange used by CCIL was different in shade than the orange used by NFMC.

Cockshutt Model 428 Combine

Cockshut model 428

Cockshutt entered combine production in the late 1930s with the introduction of the Number 6 pull type combine.

Cockshut model 428

Well before the Second World War wound down to an end, Cockshutt began planning for the post war period. Cockshutt recognized that the reduced agricultural equipment manufacture resulting from the war along with increased agricultural production would result in the existing stock of farm equipment being worn out by the end of the war. As well farmers would have built up significant bank balances due to decent prices and demand for agricultural products. So there would be good demand after the war for modern farm machinery.

In addition, Cockshutt had modernized their manufacturing plants to manufacture war material for the government. In many cases the government had actively assisted manufacturers, including Cockshutt, to obtain modern manufacturing equipment and develop the needed technical skills to operate this equipment. As well war demands had also resulted in manufacturers being able to increase their engineering staff. Cockshutt as a result had greatly increased capabilities as a company.

One of the first wave of new products for the post war period was the development of a self-propelled combine. The Models SP109 and SP110 were in farmers’ fields in the fall of 1944 and were well received. Cockshutt developed the self-propelled combine line further after the war and introduced further models offering further developments such as hydraulically controlled tables, power steering and variable sheave traction drive.

The MAM collection contains a Cockshutt 428 self-propelled combine. The 428 was in production between 1956 and 1962. The standard 428 come with a 12 foot header however 10 or 15 food headers were offered as options. Other standard equipment included a Chrysler flat head 6 cylinder industrial engine offering 76 horsepower and a Cockshutt Drive-O-Matic traction drive which was a four speed transmission coupled to a variable sheave drive. The variable sheave drive was hydraulically controlled off a foot pedal on the operator’s platform. This combination offered ground speeds varying from 5/8 to 9 MPH. The table was hydraulically raised and lowered.

The cylinder had 8 rasp bars and was 311/4 inches long and 21 7/8 inches in diameter. The speed of the cylinder could be varied from 727 rpm to 1178 rpm. The separation area was 32 inches wide and 117 inches long.

Accessories included a retractable finger auger on the table, lights, a pickup reel with 4 or 6 inch tooth spacing, ScourKleen auxiliary recleaner, slow speed cylinder sprockets, straw spreader and hour meter.

The Cockshutt Model 427 was essentially the same machine only a smaller engine was used which offered only 72 horsepower.

Sunshine Waterloo Combine

Sunshine combine
Sunshine combine

The Manitoba Agricultural Museum has a late model Sunshine Waterloo combine in the collection.

The Sunshine combine was a design of the H.V. McKay Company of Melbourne, Australia with the first one built by McKay in 1924. While we would call this machine a combine, the Australians call it a stripper header not because one needed to be naked to operate it but rather because the machine was equipped with a comb type header to straight cut grain by cutting the stalk immediately below the head so only the heads and a minimal volume of stalks were taken into the cylinder to be threshed. In other words, only the head was stripped off the stalk during harvest. This form of operation was successful in Australia as the growing seasons are quite long and there is no winter with snow at the end of the season. In many areas of Australia as well the growing season is timed so as the harvest begins with the onset of summer when the weather becomes hotter and drier. The crop then can remain out in the field until perfectly dry.

Stripper type headers for combines have been experimented with in Canada over the years but have not found favor on the Prairies.  One reason is that straw is needed in many areas to bed cattle during the winter. The operation of a stripper header would result in no straw being readily available for baling. Another reason would be that many areas of the Prairies are wetter than Australia and more straw is produced. If this straw was left standing in the field it would cause issues with further field operations. So farmers are inclined to cut it down and chop it up with the combine.  Canadians could also be victims of the “not invented here” syndrome however.

The first Sunshine Auto Headers used a Fordson engine. In 1926 McKay switched to a Wisconsin 4 cylinder in-line water-cooled engine. The model WA, WT and WB Auto Headers had a 30 HP engine and 2 forward (3 mph, and 2 mph and 1 reverse gear 1.4 mph. The width of cut was 12 feet. In 1937 the improved KA and KT headers were produced with a 36 HP engine, a 3 speed gear box and a forward/reverse gear and a hand over-centre clutch. The platform raising and lowering were power operated and the cutting width was 12 or 14 feet. All models featured a reversed tricycle type of wheel arrangement with one-wheel drive. A pinion on the inside of the gear-box drove an internal ring gear on the 54 inch diameter  drive wheel  at the front of the machine on the right side.  On the left front side was a 54 inch diameter un-powered wheel. There was a lone 30 inch wheel at the back of the bagging platform that did the steering. All wheels were steel. The engine was immediately beside the drivers seat. With the engine so close perhaps many operators did remove their clothes in order become more comfortable when operating the machine.

In 1929 McKay and Massey-Harris along with the Waterloo Manufacturing Co. incorporated the Sunshine-Waterloo Company Ltd. with the intent of adapting McKay’s self-propelled combine design for the North American and Argentinean market. In 1930, the newly formed company built a 285,000 sq. ft. plant in Waterloo, Ontario. In exchange McKay was granted the exclusive Australian distribution of Massey-Harris farm equipment.

Although set up to produce mainly farm equipment, in order to survive the tough economic times of the thirties, the new company manufactured a multitude of products, including baby carriages, bicycles, tricycles roller skates and  automotive stampings for cars. Waterloo Manufacturing withdrew from the joint venture in 1934.

During World War Two the Sunshine Waterloo Co. was a major producer for the war effort as a result of being converted to war production in 1939. During the war security was high at the plant due to the fact that it produced tank, airplane and truck parts, as well as ammunition, land mines, and various bombs.

After the war the company resumed production of bicycles and began producing office products, stoves, shelving and lockers. The Sunshine combine was rather dated by this time and does not appear to have been put back into production. In 1955 the McKay family sold their holdings to Massey Ferguson. In 1961, Sunshine Waterloo became the Sunshine Office Equipment Company. The company wrapped up operations in 1978.

Hugh Victor McKay was an early pioneer in the combine field.  Australian farm machinery in the late 1800s was quite different than what was developed in North America. With no need to harvest straw the Australians had developed a horse drawn stripper type header. This simple machine just cut off the heads and dumped them into a box. This material was then taken to a hand powered or horse sweep threshing cylinder which threshed these heads with the grain and chaff then going on to a separate machine, the winnower, which cleaned the grain. McKay hated cranking the winnower apparently and decided to build a machine that would do all these seperate operations in one machine. After collecting a number of old or junk machines including a reaper, binder, winnower and a stripper header plus assembling a set of blacksmith tools McKay and one of his brothers set to work. By 1884 they had a prototype which managed to harvest two acres of wheat. The machine was named the “Sunshine” harvester.

The Sunshine Harvester’s benefits were immediately obvious and McKay enjoyed good sales success. By 1920. H.V. McKay owned the largest farm implement factory in the Southern Hemisphere and had significant sales outside Australia. At its peak, the enterprise employed nearly 3,000 workers.

Massey-Harris did a lot of business selling grain binders but did not have a combine.  In 1900 Massey-Harris joined with H.V. McKay and wasted no time getting into the Australian market with their stripper/thresher.  This machine stripped the grain heads off and sent them directly into the threshing cylinder and on to the cleaning shoe.  The Australians were quick to adopt the bulk-bin concept.  The bin could dump directly into a waiting wagon or could drop the grain into sacks for hauling away.  Sacking required two people and quickly fell out of favor.

Hart-Parr Stationary Engine

Hart-Parr Stationary engine
Hart-Parr Stationary engine

The Hart-Parr company was formed in 1897 at Madison, Wisconsin by Charles Hart and Charles Parr. They had met while attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison and had built three working internal combustion engines while still in university. After University they scraped together $3,000 and formed Hart-Parr. One of their first products was an inverted, vertical stationary engine using oil as a coolant. Oil had two advantages, it did not freeze, an important consideration in the Northern US and in Canada plus oil cooling resulted in an increased cylinder temperature, an important consideration in burning low grade fuels such as kerosene.

The Hart-Parr inverted stationary in the MAM collection was donated by A.G. Sissons of Portage La Prairie. It is mounted on a four wheel truck which was a common practice for stationary engines as it allowed for the engine to be easily moved around the farm from job to job.

Versatile 103 Swather

Versatile 103 Swather
Versatile 103 Swather

Versatile traces its roots back to Peter Pakosh and his brother in law who began designing and building grain augers in Toronto in 1945. The company expanded its product line to sprayers and harrow bars. In 1954, the decision was made to transfer the company to Winnipeg as this location was closer to its major customers, the Prairie grain farmer.

After the move, the Model 103 Versatile swather was added to the product line. While swathers had been around for a while by 1954, the 103 with its steering wheel was an innovation that other manufacturers soon followed. Before the 103, self propelled swathers used lever activated clutch drive systems to the left and right drive wheels to steer the machine, much like a bulldozer was steered. While this worked, steering was somewhat clumsy. The steering wheel was much easier to understand and gave finer control.

The 103 used a mechanical drive system and a Wisconsin air cooled engine. While economical, the Wisconsin needed careful handling. One was advised to idle a Wisconsin engine for a few minutes before shutting off. If shut off hot, Wisconsin engines seemed to have the fault of exhaust valves seizing up. Idling the engine cooled the valves to the point where the exhaust valves would not seize in their guides due to the lubricating oil evaporating off.

The 103 stayed in production until 1965 when it was replaced with the Versatile 400 self propelled swather.

Massey Harris Number 5 Combine

Massey Harris Number 5 - Combine
Massey Harris Number 5 - Combine
Massey Harris Number 5 – Combine

Hart Massey had begun experiments with a stripper header in the 1880s.  A stripper header was a machine that cut the heads off standing grain and the heads then were conveyed into a thresher – cleaner which threshed the kernels out of the head and discarded any chaff , awns and other debris. Stripper Headers really only worked well in areas where grain could dry while standing.  Western Canada was not the place for this technology given the long time to maturity of the wheat varieties in use in the 1880s, E.G. Red Fife. An early winter could result in snow falling on the crop flattening it. A stripper header could not cope with this condition. Stripper headers were commonly used in areas such as Australia, California and Argentina. However Massey persisted with the stripper header even after the amalgamation that saw Massey Harris formed. Massey Harris built and shipped 350 stripper headers in 1901.

Massey Harris in 1906 began work on a travelling combined harvester thresher and hired two Australian engineers.  These engineers split the year between Australia and Canada working on designs. By 1909, they had developed a machine that cut a standing crop, conveyed the stalks to a threshing cylinder which threshed the material and dumped it out onto straw walkers under which were sieves through which air was blown. The air flow cleaned the chaff and debris from the grain, when properly adjusted. This machine featured a ground wheel drive and a 9 foot cut. Operators on the machine had to bag grain as it came through the sieves.

This machine was introduced to the market as the Massey Harris Number 1 in 1910. The machine was further improved with new models coming on to the market. In 1922 the Massey Harris Number 5 was introduced.  The Model 5 was the first Massey Harris combine to feature an engine drive. All previous Massey Harris combines had featured ground wheel drive. The Number 5 could be drawn by either a tractor or horses.

Massey Harris Model 21 Combine

Massey Harris Combine
Massey Harris Combine
Early Massey Harris Model 21 with galvanized steel body

 With the new Model 20 performing well with big acreage growers, including export demand from countries such as the USA and Argentina, Tom Carroll and the combine design team at MH quickly set to work designing a smaller SP combine two-thirds the size of the No.20.  The aim was to develop a new smaller, lighter and more affordable self-propelled combine that would sell in large numbers to smaller farms.

 The resulting machine had a 12-foot cut and was built much lower with the engine underneath. The table used draper canvases. These did a nice job of feeding the grain heads into the feeder house. It was priced within range of the”average” farmer.

Sales of the Model 20 totaled 925 machines over two years, but when the new MH-21 combine arrived in 1941, it created a huge demand with annual production peaking at 10,000 plus in 1949. However in the war years of 1939 to 1945 steel supplies limited production along with shortages of components such as the Chrysler six cylinder engines.

Beamish 21 individual fuelling up
Beamish Model 21 being fuelled up in the field during during the 1976 harvest

During the Second World War Massey-Harris and the Model 21, pioneered the “Harvesting Brigade”. The company gained permission to build a fleet of 500 Model 21s and sell them to custom operators who were to work north from the southern states of the US Great Plains area and in doing so follow the ripening harvest north. Materials such as steel, engines and other components were rationed during the war in order to ensure allied military forces had sufficient supplies. Massey Harris had to convince the authorities that 500 Model 21s were sufficiently valuable to the Allies cause that materials could be allocated to build them along with the factory space as Massey Harris plants had been converted to build a variety of military equipment. Massey Harris made their case for the materials and plant space by pointing out the machines would save labor, release tractors for other uses and tractors were in short supply at the time plus the machines would reduce harvest losses due to tramping grain when opening up fields with pull type combines or to broken sheaves if the field were being harvested by binder and threshing machine.

Beamish Model 21 harvesting in 1976
The Beamish Model 21 harvesting in 1976

The plan worked as the machines harvested more than a million acres in one year and freed up an estimated 1,000 tractors for other work while doing so. Massey Harris worked hard to ensure the program was a success by positioning spare parts along the route north through the Great Plains.

Even more importantly for Massey Harris, the Harvest Brigade had given a large number of farmers a very positive impression of Massey Harris self propelled combines. When the war ended, and they were able to switch back to normal production, demand for Massey Harris combines was immediate.

After the war Massey Harris introduced the Massey Harris Model 21A which used an auger on the table instead of draper canvases to feed grain into the feeder house. However the Model 21A auger did not feature disappearing fingers.

With the MH-20 and MH-21 combines Massey-Harris achieved an important breakthrough in grain harvesting, which other combine manufacturers were forced to follow.

Tom Carroll’s role in the development of the Massey Harris combines was not forgotten and he was awarded a Gold Medal in 1958 by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers to recognize his contribution to combine harvester development. Along with the first successful self propelled combine, Tom Carroll helped introduce to the farm machinery business mechanical improvements such as welding, roller chain, oil bath gear sets, ball bearings and detachable tables which made combines easier to transport.

Beamish Family Massey Harris Model 21 Combine

The Museum has two Model 21s in the collection and both operate.

The Beamish Family Model 21 in the 2010 machinery parade
The Beamish Family Model 21 in the 2010 machinery parade

The Beamish Family donated this Model 21 to the Museum in 1979. The machine was purchased new in 1947 by Douglas and Richard (Dick) Beamish. When new the machine was fitted with a canvas draper pickup table. The machine was joined in handling the Beamish harvest by a Massey Super 27 in the late 1950s. In 1967, the pickup table was changed to the auger type making the machine equivalent to a Model 21A. The Model 21 and the Super 27 soldered onwards but with the finish of the 1979 harvest they were retired. The Model 21 was donated to the Museum at that time.

The other Model 21 in the collection is still fitted with the canvas draper pickup table and is an earlier machine than the Beamish Model 21 as it is fitted with galvanized sheet metal. Originally the Model 21s were built with galvanized sheet metal and later production used painted sheet metal. Originally the Beamish machine sported a red paint job but time has turned the sheet metal to a patina of brown and surface rust.