Massey-Harris Farming (Part III): The Clipper Combine
Brian Wayne Wells
As published in the July/August 2004 issue of
Belt Pulley Magazine
Civilized man has grown plants for consumption since 8000 B.C.E. (Before the Common Era). This change from the hunting and gathering stage of human development to the growing of food products is referred to as the agricultural revolution. One of the first crops planted by civilized man was a form of wheat grain. Processing of wheat into flour was so common among civilizations around the world that bread became known as the “staple of life” and wheat became known as the “shaft of life.” The processing of wheat involved a lot of manual labor. Since the earliest of times, the grain was harvested after it had turned golden amber color under the hot summer sun. However, even at this stage the grain contained moisture. Harvesting or reaping would sever the plant from its roots and allow the grain to “sweat” and dry completely. This sweating generally occurred after the grain had been gathered together in bundles and placed in “shocks” in the field. Once the grain had thoroughly dried out, the bundles would be gathered up and threshed by hand. Then the grain had to be winnowed or separated from all the chaff that may be left in the grain following threshing. Thus, harvesting and threshing and winnowing of the grain remained three separate time-consuming hand operations for the processing grain. This method of processing grain remained unchanged for centuries. In 1831, on his family farm in Virginia, Cyrus McCormick took his first big step toward mechanical grain harvesting with his reaper. Improvements to the reaper, eventually, allowed the machine to automatically bind the grain into bundles. Mechanization of the threshing process was also accomplished by the development of a threshing machine in the 1860s. However, this threshing machine was a stationary unit and the bundled grain had to be brought from the field to the thresher for threshing and winnowing of the grain. Originally steam engines were used as power sources for these stationary threshers. By 1877, the Buffalo-Pitts Company was able to advertise a thresher/separator, that would not only thresh, but would also winnow the grain. Development of a small portable thresher-separator that would combine the operations of harvesting, threshing and winnowing in one single operation was carried on in the Central Valley of California by three different corporate concerns—the Stockton Combine Harvester and Agricultural Works; the Daniel Best Agricultural Works and the Stockton Wheel Company. (After 1892, Stockton Wheel became the Holt Manufacturing Company.) In 1925, these three companies would merge to form the Caterpillar Tractor Company. The early combines produced by each of these three companies were of mammoth proportions and required 24 to 40 horses to pull the machine across the field. A separate auxiliary power source was need to power the machine itself. California’s steady weather allowed the grain to be harvested while it was still standing in the field rather than being cut and dried out in a windrow. Likewise, all across the western United States and the western provinces of Canada, grain was harvested while standing. In these western states grain was raised in fields stretching from horizon to horizon. Thus, the Great Plains became known as the bread basket of North America. Only in large-scale grain farming areas like the Great Plains were the huge combines profitable. In the Midwest, farms were much smaller—generally only about 160 acres. Furthermore, the arable land of the average farm was often shared with other crops and with pasture for animals. Usually only about 30 to 35 acres of grain would be raised on a typical 160-acre farm in any given year. A big combine was not profitable in this type of farming operation. Farms in the Midwest had to await development of a small combine. Development of the small combine for use on the small farms of the Midwest took a circuitous route and some early attempts were not entirely successful. One early attempt to develop a small combine began with Curtis Baldwin and his brothers, Earnest and George, who formed the Baldwin Manufacturing Company (later to become the Gleaner Manufacturing Company) of Nickerson Kansas in 1915. The efforts of the Baldwin brothers resulted in a Fordson-mounted combine in 1923. This combine was named the “Gleaner” combine. The popularity of the Gleaner combine was tied directly to the popularity of the Fordson tractor. In the early 1920s, the popularity of the Fordson made the Gleaner mounted combine a popular sales item, but later in the late 1920s, when the Fordson declined in popularity, so too did the popularity of the Gleaner. The Gleaner mounted combine ceased production altogether in 1927. In the 1930s, the Baldwin Company went into bankruptcy. New owners bought the company from the Baldwin brothers and changed the name of the company to the Gleaner Manufacturing Company of Independence, Missouri. The new Gleaner Company began designing and producing a series of pull-type combines. Revealing the company’s long-time ties to the Ford Motor Company, early versions of these pull-type combines were powered by Ford Model A industrial engines. However, these attempts at producing a pull-type combine were not successful over the long run. Gleaner pull-type combines proved to have design flaws and never became popular with the buying public. Only after 1951, the Gleaner Company became successful for the combines they produced. However, this success was not based on development of a pull-type combine. Rather Gleaner became famous for the development and production of its line of self-propelled combines. The most successful small pull-type combine was the 3,000 pound All-Crop- Harvester developed and manufactured by the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company of West Allis, Wisconsin (a more complete story of the All-Crop Harvester was published in the March/April 2005 issue of Belt Pulley magazine and is also exhibited here on this website). The All-Crop Harvester was first introduced to the public in 1929. Following in the train of the success of the All-Crop Harvester, other farm equipment companies began producing their own version of a small pull-type combine. Most of these other companies adopted a “straight through” design for their small combines. The straight-through designed cut the grain (or picked up the grain from a windrow) threshed and separated the grain from the straw and then deposited the straw on top of the same stubble at the rear of the combine in roughly the same location where grain had been cut or picked up. In this way, the straight-through combines avoided the sharp left turn the chaff and straw would take as it progressed through the All-Crop Harvester. One of the farm equipment companies to develop a straight through combine was the Massey-Harris Company of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Starting with a design by E. C. Everett, Massey-Harris introduced their small straight-through combine in 1938. his combine was called the “Clipper” combine. Although the Massey-Harris Company was a Canadian company and maintained most of its manufacturing facilities in Canada, virtually all Clipper combines were made in the United States at the company’s Batavia, New York facility. The 3,000 pound Clipper pull-type combine was marketed with either a 6-foot or a 7-foot cutter bar model. Both models featured a 5-foot cylinder and a 5 foot wide separating table. In its first two years of production (1938-1939), the simplicity, small size and low price of the Clipper made the combine a sales success. In those first two years the Clipper cut well into the market share dominated by the Allis-Chalmers All-Crop Harvester. Right from the start of production, the Clipper combine was available only on rubber tires. Like many farm equipment companies before World War II, Massey-Harris contracted with the French & Hecht Company of Bettendorf, Iowa, to supply round-spoked wheel rims for these rubber tires on the Clipper. After the war, Massey-Harris switched to disc-type wheel rims for their rubber tired wheels for the Clipper combine. Like most companies in the post-war era, Massey Harris obtained these disc-type wheels from the Electric Wheel Company of Quincy, Illinois. Because of this abrupt change of contract, “pre-war” Clipper combines are distinguishable from the Clipper combines manufactured in the post-war era. Concurrent with the start of Clipper combine production, Tom Carroll, an engineer for Massey-Harris began to work on a self-propelled combine. By 1942, Carroll had completed a design for a self-propelled combine that would become the Massey-Harris Model 21 combine. This was the world’s first truly self-propelled combine. The Model 21 combine was ready for production, but wartime restrictions prevented its manufacture. Massey-Harris set about convincing the United States War Production Board that the Batavia, New York factory should be allotted sufficient steel and other raw materials to produce a limited number of Model 21 combines. Massey-Harris sought to build sufficient Model 21 combines to conduct extensive field tests on the combine. These field tests would, the Company felt, convince one and all that one-man-operated self-propelled combine could harvest much more grain with less investment and in money and manpower “than any other machine or combination of machines in existence.” The War Production Board was persuaded and Massey-Harris was allotted enough materials to produce 500 Model 21 combines. These combines were sold to custom harvesters in March of 1944. The new combines would begin harvesting in Texas and move north across the Great Plains to the Canadian border, combining nearly 1 million acres and threshing 15 million bushels of grain in the 1944 harvest season. This became known as the Massey-Harris Harvest Brigade and served as an excellent advertising promotion for the company. The Harvest Brigade was so successful that it was expanded for the 1945 harvest season. The Harvest Brigade attracted public attention at the time and has attracted the fancy of fans and restorers of Massey-Harris equipment ever since. Thus, as the 60th anniversary of the Brigade approached more and more restorers expressed interest in participating in a reenactment of the original Harvest Brigade. Thus, on September 22, 2001, a large number of Massey-Harris tractors and equipment were brought to a 130-acre plot of land in rural Chillicothe, Illinois, to plow, prepare the seed bed, and plant winter wheat on the plot of land. This event, organized by Dale Lawrence, was dubbed the “Great Planting.” The wheat formed a good root system over the fall of 2001 and then went into a dormant stage over the winter. With the arrival of spring, the wheat started growing again and by early summer in 2002, the wheat was ready to harvest. Harvest Day was planned and was called the “Great Harvest.” A collection of Massey-Harris combines owned by Wes Armstrong, Gary Emsweller, Vernon Winterroth and Ray Swanson gathered together to harvest the wheat at the Great Harvest Day. (See “A Massey Connection” by Cindy Ladage in the July/August 2003 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.) At the annual show held on the grounds of the LeSueur County Pioneer Power Association in rural LeCenter, Minnesota on August 26 through 29, 2003. This annual show was to feature the same Harvest Brigade combines as had participated in the Great Harvest Day the year before in Illinois. In anticipation of this field demonstration, some of the grain that is usually planted on the grounds and which is usually cut and bundled for threshing during the annual show, was left standing uncut. This grain was left standing in order to be harvested by the Massey-Harris combines at the show in another re-enactment of the Harvest Brigade. Throughout the summer of 2004 a continuation of the celebration of the Harvest Brigade took place in many locations across the Great Plains. One particular celebration began in March of 2004 when Lenwood Holo of Omaha, Nebraska and Eau Claire, Wisconsin loaded up his newly restored Model 21 self-propelled Massey-Harris combine on his 1949 Dodge 2-ton truck truck and set out for Texas to retrace the route of the Harvest Brigade—following the harvest north from Texas to Langdon, North Dakota. While the self-propelled Massey-Harris combine and the Harvest Brigade captured all the attention during the war. After the war, when the wartime economic restrictions on civilian industrial production were lifted, Massey-Harris’ pull-type Clipper combine came back into prominence. Indeed the Clipper combine became a very big seller for the Massey-Harris Company. Clipper combine production resumed after the war. The post-war Clipper combine was offered to the farming public in a power take-off version as well as an engine-powered version. The engine used for the auxiliary-powered version, was the Wisconsin Model VE-4 air-cooled engine. (An article on the history of the Wisconsin Motor Company was published in the September/October 2004 issue of Belt Pulley magazine and is reproduced at this website.) Despite the fact that power take-off was a common feature of post-war tractors and despite the fact that the 1-3/8th inch containing six (6) splines had become universally accepted as the standard power take-off, there still, nonetheless, seemed to be more auxiliary engine-powered versions of the Clipper combine manufactured than power take-off versions. Of particular interest for this particular article are two post-war Clipper combines, both equipped with the Wisconsin VE-4 air-cooled engine, which were delivered to two separate Massey Harris dealerships in southern Minnesota. The first of these two Clipper combines arrived in Amboy, Minnesota (1940 pop. 576) some time in the early summer of 1948. The combine arrived on board a flat-bed car attached to a Chicago and Northwestern train. The flat-bed railroad car carrying the Clipper combine and some other Massey-Harris equipment originated from the Massey-Harris Company branch house located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In Amboy, the Clipper combine was unloaded from the railroad car and was taken to the W. J. Nelson Dealership in Amboy. (A history of the W. J. Nelson dealership was carried in the second article of this three part series of articles on “Massey-Harris Farming” published in the May/June 2004 issue of Belt Pulley magazine. The article is also reproduced on this website under the name “Massey-Harris Farming: The Arno Schull Model 30 Tractor.”) Like most combines intended for use in the humid Midwest, this combine was delivered delivered with an optional Massey-Harris windrow pickup. After spending a short while in the inventory of the W. J. Nelson Dealership, this particular combine was sold in the early summer of 1948 to Arno Schull of rural Mapleton, Minnesota (1940 pop. 1070). Earlier in the spring of 1948, Arno Schull had purchased a new Massey-Harris Model 30 tractor from the W.J. Nelson Dealership. (The story of this Model 30 tractor and the Shull family is contained in the second article in this series of Massey-Harris articles cited above.) Arno purchased the combine in an attempt to gain more control over his 120-acre farming operation. Previous to purchasing the combine, Arno, (and his father before him) had belonged to a neighborhood threshing ring. Years before, his father and a group of neighbors had banned together in a “threshing ring” to purchase a threshing machine. Each year this threshing machine moved from farm to farm among the neighbors in the “ring” to thresh the small grains (oats and wheat) on each farm. Not only did this method of threshing grain require a great deal of hand labor for each individual farmer—binding and shocking the grain on his own farm, but it also meant that each individual farmer had to be absent from his own farm for weeks at a time, as he followed the thresher around the neighborhood serving on the threshing crew. Arno knew this was time lost to the chores and field work on his own farm. Furthermore, threshing his oats as a part of the neighborhood ring meant that his oat crop had to wait in the fields until the thresher finally showed up on his farm. This meant a loss in the oat crop. The prior growing season, of 1947, had been a case in point. The previous summer of 1947 proved the point in this regard. The spring and early summer of 1947 had been very wet with a great deal of rain. The rains were not a single deluge, but rather were a consistent pattern of smaller rains the kept the grounds so wet, that Arno and his neighbors could not get into the fields in a timely manner to get the crops planted in the spring. The rains continued on a consistent basis for most of the summer. The only window of opportunity for threshing was the short period of time in late July and early August of 1947. Because of the late planting and the late threshing, Arno and his neighbors suffered nearly a 34% decline in oat production in 1947 as opposed to 1946. (Blue Earth County oat production figures contained in the National Agricultural Statistical Service from the United States Department of Agriculture website on the Internet.) Besides the disadvantages of threshing in terms of time spent away from the farm, there were actual out-of-pocket expenses involved in the threshing. Every year, Arno’s wife Lois had to feed the entire threshing crew while the thresher was on the Schull farm. To be sure, she did receive some assistance from the neighbor’s wives who all brought cooked dishes to pass and stayed through the noon meal and after to serve dinner and to help clean up afterwards. However, Lois would have to reciprocate by bringing a cooked hot dish or chicken or ham to each of the neighbors’ homes as the thresher progressed around the neighborhood. Indeed, she too was forced to be absent from the home farm for days at a time during threshing season just like Arno. Now in the present growing season—1948—the oat crop was looking pretty good. The spring of 1948 was dry enough to allow the planting of all crops to be completed on time. Once the crop was planted, there was a timely rain in mid-June, which gave the crops a good start. From the end of June to the middle of July there was a period of sunshine, high temperatures and no rain. Arno and his neighbors were able to put up their hay and cultivate their corn during this time. During the two or three days that Arno was cross-cultivating his corn, he kept an eye on the oats over the fence in the next field. The oat crop was tall and thick with rank growth. The entire field green, but streaks of yellow were now starting to appear in the green as the oat crop began to ripen. Every day now the streaks of yellow broadened and became more pronounced. A few mild rains occurred in late July, but another rainless period occurred from the end of July into August, 1948. This was the opportunity that Arno needed to harvest his oats. Ordinarily, he would have begun the long tedious process of binding the oats into bundles and then hand stacking the entire field of bundle into shocks. This year, however, would be different. Unlike the wheat grown in the dry western states, small grains grown in the humid Midwest could not be combined while the crop was still standing. The humid weather conditions and the rich soil of the Midwest promoted the growth green grass and weeds in the wheat or oats grown in the Midwest. These weeds lived longer than the wheat or oats. Even in late July and August when the wheat and/or oats were ripening and drying out, the green weeds in the crop would still be succulent. If the oats were cut and combined while standing, the green plant life would not pass through the combine with the dried oat straw. Rather the “green material” would tend to wrap around the cylinder of the combine and interfere with the threshing of the crop. To solve this problem, farmers in the Midwest, were required to cut their small grains and “windrow” the crop before combining. Arno Schull hired a neighbor, who owned a windrower, to come to his farm and cut his oat crop. One long day was all that was needed to reduce the standing oat crop to a filed of stubble with a series of strips of ripe oat plants laying on top of the stubble. These strips were “windrows.” The green grass and weeds would quickly dry out and turn brittle in the windrows under the hot August sun in 1948. Accordingly, Arno made his way to the oat field with his new Clipper combine on the following day. As noted above, Arno’s Clipper combine had been sold to him complete with a Massey-Harris pickup attachment. The Massey-Harris pickup was a conventional pickup attachment. The pickup consisted of rows of wire teeth set on an axle. The axle to which the teeth were attached revolved inside a tubular and stationary piece of sheet metal. The teeth attached to the axle protruded through slots in the sheet metal. In order to attach the pickup to the combine, Arno disconnected the belt leading to the sickle bar at the bottom the header of the Clipper combine. He then pulled the sickle out of the cutter bar and then removed the reel that was suspended above the cutter bar. Then he bolted the pickup attachment onto the header over the cutter bar. Using a different sized belt, he attached pickup to a pulley on the combine to provide power to the pickup. Then, Arno hitched his new Model 30 tractor to the Clipper combine and pulled the combine down the lane to the field. He pulled the combine through the closest gate to the oat field. Inside the oat field, he lined the header on the combine with the second windrow from the fence. There was not enough room between the first windrow and the fence to allow him to combine the first windrow nearest the fence. So he skipped that windrow for the time being. When the little Wisconsin Model VE-4 engine was started the clutch was engaged, the wire teeth of the pickup began a sweeping action in front of the header. As he shifted the tractor into second gear and let out the clutch pedal, the tractor pulled the combine forward and the teeth of the pickup efficiently combed the stubble ground in front of the feeder platform. The windrow of oats laying on top of the stubble was gently lifted by the pickup over the cutter bar and into the header. There the canvas apron on the header quickly carried the windrow up into the feeder, where the crop was hungrily swallowed up by the combine. Inside the combine the grain was threshed and separated from the straw and other chaff. As the combine began progressing across the field, clean threshed oats began pouring out of the top of the grain elevator and began sliding down the chute into the grain tank on the combine. Meanwhile, the oat straw and chaff was dumped on the ground behind the combine The “straight-through” design of the Clipper combine meant that the straw was left on the same stretch of ground that had been occupied by the original windrow. The feeder platform with the pickup attachment were on the right side of the Clipper combine. Accordingly, Arno looked over his right shoulder to watch the windrow being picked up by the combine. It was a good thick windrow which made the little 25 horsepower (hp.) Wisconsin engine labor as the combine swallowed up the windrow. This thick windrow suggested the crop was a good crop. Indeed, Arno had only to turn around a little more in his seat, to look directly behind him at the stream of oats pouring down the chute from the grain elevator into the grain tank to realize that the 1948 harvest would be a bumper crop of oats. Indeed, Arno began to wonder if he would be able to complete the full round of the oat field before he having to break off and go empty the grain tank. He had parked a wagon just outside the field into which he intended to empty the grain tank after each round of the field with the combine. Combining along the third side of the field he could see a little mound of yellow oats appearing above the rim of the grain tank. He was worried that the tank was getting full and might overflow before he completed the entire round. Accordingly, Arno stopped the combine along the third side of the field when he felt he could not go any further without losing some oats due to overflowing the grain tank. He dismounted the tractor to raise and lock the platform header in the fully up position by pulling the platform height control lever. Mounting the pickup attachment on the platform header made the header much heavier than it would otherwise have been with only the cutter bar and the reel attached. To be sure, the lifting of the platform header was actually accomplished by two large coil springs located under the platform. However, the platform height control lever controlled the compression or decompression of the coil springs, the coil springs actually lifted the platform. Each coil spring also had a huge adjustment nut which could be tightened or loosened. Indeed, part of the procedure of attaching the pickup to the platform header required Arno to crawl under the platform and tighten the adjustment nut on each coil spring to help compensate for the additional weight of the pickup on the platform header. When he removed the pickup attachment and attached the reel again for the soybean harvest in the fall, he would again crawl under the header to loosen the adjustment nuts to compensate for the loss of weight caused by the removal of the pickup. Even with the springs working with him to lift the platform, the height control lever was difficult enough to require Arno to get off the tractor to get a secure footing to operate the lever. Raising the lever to its full up position locking it there would hopefully keep the pickup high enough to pass over the un-harvested windrow and leave it undisturbed. Still, as the tractor pulled the combine along the field the header bounced up and down with the bumps and unevenness in the field—proof once more that the coil springs were actually holding the platform header up. Arno exited the field though the gate and pulled the combine down to where the wagon was parked. Pulling along side the wagon, he stopped the tractor and reach around behind him to pull the control that disengaged the rest of the combine from the grain elevator. Then he once again engaged the clutch of the combine, now only the grain elevator was operating. Now, he dismounted the tractor and walked back to the grain tank. He swung the elevator chute out of the grain tank and positioned it over the wagon. Then he walked around behind the combine to move the control lever to open the trap door at the base of the grain tank. This allowed oats to flow out of the grain tank into the grain elevator again. This time, however, when the oats poured out of the top of the elevator they slide down the chute into the wagon. Scooping up a handful of the oats from the wagon, Arno admired the bright yellow color of the crop. Unlike past years when the oats in shocks might spend days or weeks in the field after being cut, these oats had spent no more than two days exposed to the weather and their bright color proved it. Furthermore, as Arno poured the oats from one had to the other hand, he was pleasantly surprised to see very few oat hulls and chaff in the oat crop. When the tank was empty, he pulled the clutch control on the combine and then closed the trap door at the bottom of the grain tank and then he pushed the control lever that re-connected the grain elevator with the rest of the combine. With the lever controlling the height of the platform securely locked in the full up position, Arno climbed back up into the operators seat of the Model 30 tractor and once again carefully negotiated the combine back through the first gate to the oat field. Then, rather than wasting time driving back to the location on the third side of the field where he had broken off combining, Arno decided to combine counter clock-wise that part of the outside windrow back up to the location on the third side of the field where he had left off combining. Accordingly, he lined the header up with this outside windrow and lowered the platform height control lever to allow the skids under the header and pickup attachment to once again slide along on the stubble ground. Then he accelerated the Wisconsin engine and slowly pushed the combine clutch control in to engage the whole combine. He did this slowly, because he had learned how hard it was to start the little air-cooled Wisconsin engine once it stalled in hot weather. (This problem with the Wisconsin VE-4 engine is discussed in two articles, one is entitled “The Case Model NCM Baler and the Family’s Crucial Year” published in the January/February 1995 issue of Belt Pulley magazine and the other is entitled “ Wisconsin Built Engines” published in the September/October 2004 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.) After combing along the outside windrow all the way back to the position on the third side of the field where he had broken off combining, Arno carefully turned the combine around again to line up with the second windrow from the fence and then proceeded to combine the rest of the second windrow to the starting point by the gate. During the first round of the oat field, even though he was combining the second windrow from the fence, the left rear wheel of the tractor was still running perilously close to the fence. Therefore, in addition to watching the windrow and the combine on his right he had to cast frequent glances over at the fence on his left to check the proximity of the left rear wheel in regard to the fence. Another item that he frequently watched up to this point had been the windrow that he was straddling. He had to make sure that the narrow front wheels of the tractor and the right rear wheel of the tractor both missed stayed off the first windrow. If the wheels rolled over the windrow, most of the oats in that windrow would be “threshed” out right on the ground and would be lost. This he wanted to avoid as much as he could. However, now, after having combined the first windrow up to the third side of the field this was one thing that he no longer needed to worry about. He could drive over the threshed straw as much as he wanted without worry of lost of crop. This meant that he could steer the front end of the tractor so that they could roll over the straw. There was just one less thing to worry about. On this second time and every succeeding time around the oat field he could concentrate on the the windrow to his right without worrying about the row of straw under the tractor or the growing number of rows of straw to his left. He watched over his right shoulder as the teeth of the pickup gently raised the windrow up into the feeder of the combine making sure that none of the windrow would slip past the edge of the pickup and be left on the ground in the field. One of the advantages of the Massey-Harris pickup attachment was that occupied the entire width of the six-foot platform and cutter bar. There was a small portion on either side of the Massey-Harris pickup that had no teeth. Thus, this small space on either of the pickup was unusable to pick up the windrow. However, this left nearly 5 feet of the pickup with teeth that could be used. Generally the windrow was about 18 inches to two (2) feet in width. Accordingly, there was nearly three feet of usable space (perhaps a foot and ½ on each side of the normal 2 foot band in the center of the pickup) that could be employed to allow the tractor to be driven slightly from side to side to avoid any obstacles. When Arno reached the end of his first full round at the starting point, where he had begun making the round, the second windrow blended automatically into the third windrow from the fence. However, before taking the combine up that third windrow, Arno pulled the combine out of the field and once again emptied the grain tank into the wagon. Even though the grain tank was not entirely full, Arno wanted to have the tank entirely empty before starting out on the next round. This would allow him to get as far around the field as possible before breaking off in mid round with a full grain tank as he had done before. The windrows in the field had been made in this pattern of concentric rectangles each inside the previous rectangle. Arno would keep following this series of concentric rectangles with the tractor and combine. Each concentric rectangle became progressively smaller as he pulled the combine clockwise around the field. With each round he came closer to making the entire round before having to empty the contents of the grain tank into the wagon. About the time that he made the first entire trip around the field he found that his wagon was full. He then had to unhook the combine from the tractor and hitch the tractor to the wagon and take the wagon up to the granary. There the wagon was emptied into the elevator at the granary and the elevator carried the oats up to the roof of the granary and deposited the oats into the one of the separate bins inside the granary. This year’s crop was so large that he soon filled the bin in the granary and had to find other places to store the oat crop. In desperation he even filled the brooder house. The chickens that had last used the brooder house were now big enough that they were spending their nights outside in the trees around the yard. They no longer returned to the brooder house. So he cleaned the dry manure out of the brooder house and swept the wooden floor clean and began filling the brooder house with oats. Next February, he and Lois would have to use the brooder house to raise a new crop of baby chicks. He vowed that he would use the oats first when he fed the laying chickens or when he ground feed for the pigs and for the milk cows. He vowed that the oats in the brooder house would be gone by next February. Arno and his neighbors set a nearly set a new record harvest of oats for Blue Earth County with 4,686,400 bushels harvested county wide. Second only to the 1945 all time record of 4,822,200 bushels harvested in Blue Earth County (From the web site of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistical Service on the Internet). Traditionally, oats are not a cash crop. Rather they tend to be used on the farm as a food source for animals. However, the abundant supply of oats in 1948, was compounded by the fact that in the post-war era, many farms were getting rid of their horses in favor of tractors as a power source for their farming operations. Consequently, with this over supply of oats on the average farm, many farmers began thinking of selling oats for the first time and many did. As a result, the oat market which had risen from its wartime price of 83¢ per bushel in December of 1946 to a high of $1.42 per bushel in January of 1948, suddenly fell to 72¢ per bushel in August 1948 under the weight of the bumper crop of that year and the decreased demand on the average farm for oats because there were fewer work horses on the average farm that ever before. Arno and other farmers felt that the price was so low that it was not worth selling oats. They felt that a better alternative was to find ways to store the excess oats on the farm as a hedge against a bad oat harvest in the future. Arno Shull had been able to complete his oat harvest in two or three long days in the first week of August. After completing the oat harvest, he Arno returned to cultivating his corn one last time before the corn became too tall to fit under the frame of his Massey-Harris mounted two-row tractor cultivator. However, he did not have much time to get entirely over the corn before a rain storm in the second week in August dropped 2¼ inches of rain on the ground in one night. This stopped all field work. Furthermore, the ground had not dried out sufficiently when later the same week another ½ inch rain continued to prevent a return to the fields. Arno could not help thinking of where he would be if he had not purchased the Clipper combine that year. He might still be waiting to have the thresher show up on his farm to get his oats threshed. Meanwhile, the shocks in the field would be catching all the wind and rain. The delay alone would have caused loss as some oats would have been knocked off the shock and fallen directly onto the ground because of the adverse weather conditions. Arno was not the only farmer with a new combine in 1948. Many farmers across Blue Earth County had purchased combines that year. Arno also believed that the increased efficiency of the combine as opposed to the stationary thresher method of harvesting was reflected the production figures of his oat harvest. He had grown more oats per acre this year than in 1945. Indeed, Blue Earth County had almost broken the record oat harvest of 1945 and the farmers of the county had done so by harvesting less acres of oats—more oats on less acres. The yield per acre was increased from 54 bushels per acre in 1945 to 58 bushels per acre this year—in 1948. The weather and growing conditions in 1945 and 1948 were almost identical. What, then, would explain the increase in yield? Arno felt that the increased efficiency of the combine as opposed to the stationary thresher was the answer. In addition to the losses incurred by the oats sitting in the field awaiting the arrival of the stationary thresher, Arno knew that all the handling of the bundles of oats for the stationary thresher, loading them onto wagons and carrying them to the stationary thresher and then handling the shocks one more time to unloaded from the bundles from the wagon into feeder of the stationary thresher. This repeated and constant handling of the oats created substantial losses of oats—since a substantial number of the individual oat seeds were shaken loose and fell to the ground. On the other hand, once the oats were windrowed, the only additional handling of the oats occurred when the combine pickup attachment would gently lift the windrow up and place it on the feeding platform of the combine. Once on the canvas apron of the feeding platform the oats would taken quickly up to the cylinder of the combine. There was very little chance for the individual oat seeds to fall off (or “thresh”) onto the ground due to handling. The great number of combines in use in 1948 and the resulting reduction of crop loss could well explain the new record yield of oats in 1948 as opposed to 1945, when the stationary thresher was still in widespread use. As the post-war years rolled by, more and more farmers turned to owning their own combines as opposed to belonging to a threshing ring. In the spring of 1950, another Massey-Harris pull type Clipper combine was left the Massey-Harris branch house in Des Moines, Iowa aboard a Chicago-Great Western train en route to LeRoy, Minnesota (1950 pop. 959). The city of LeRoy was in Minnesota, but just barely. LeRoy was located about ½ a mile from the Minnesota-Iowa border. In actual, rail connections between LeRoy and Des Moines, Iowa were more direct that were the rail connections to Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. Accordingly, it made sense, that the Massey-Harris branch house in Des Moines would serve the local Massey-Harris dealership in LeRoy rather than the branch house in Minneapolis. The local Massey-Harris dealership in LeRoy was the Orke-Regan dealership. Just like the Arno Schull Clipper combine, the individual pull-type Clipper combine that arrived at the Great Western depot in LeRoy, Minnesota on board a railroad flat car, was also fitted with its own auxiliary power source—the Wisconsin VE-4 air-cooled engine. Just like most small combines shipped to the Midwest, this Clipper also arrived accompanied with a windrow pickup attachment. However, rather than a Massey-Harris pickup attachment, this Clipper was shipped with a pickup attachment manufactured by the Innes Company of Bettendorf, Iowa. Since 1948, the Massey-Harris Company had been getting negative reports back from the field regarding their own Massey-Harris pickup attachment. With frequent use in the fields, oat straw tended to get caught between the between the cracks on the Massey-Harris windrow pickup attachment and become wrapped around the axle on the inside of the pickup attachment. To avoid this wrapping problem, the Massey-Harris company had begun to ship their new Clipper combines the Innes Company pickup attachment. The Innes pickup attachment was manufactured to fit many of the small pull-type combines on the market. The Innes pickup attachment was not the traditional “spring-finger” type of pickup with a stationary shield with slots through which the spring teeth moved to lift the windrow. Rather the Innes pickup attachment consisted of a cylinder with holes in the cylinder through which “stiff-finger” type teeth protruded. In operation on a combine the entire cylinder of the Innes pickup would revolve. When the cylinder of the pickup turned the stiff finger teeth inside the cylinder would protrude the slots and reach their maximum extension at the bottom and forward part of the cycle. At this stage the teeth would pickup the windrowed crop. As the cylinder of the pickup continued to turn, the stiff fingers would each begin to retreat again back inside the cylinder. Right at the top of the cycle the teeth would disappear entirely into the cylinder. This was the point at which the windrow was passing the windrow off to the apron on the platform of the feeder. There was no room for the straw from the windrow to wedge between the tiny holes in the cylinder and begin to wrap around the axle of the pickup located on the inside of the cylinder. Any wrapping of straw that occurred with the Innes pickup would be around the outside of the cylinder. However, even this type of wrapping was unlikely because the teeth were totally retracted back into the cylinder. Even if wrapping occurred around the outside of the cylinder, it was far easier for the farmer to deal with this type of wrapping than to deal with the type of wrapping that occurred under the slotted shield of a traditional pickup. (A history of the Innes Company of Bettendorf, Iowa and a further description of the “stiff finger” windrow pickup is contained in article called “The Innes Company” published and contained in the May/June 2005 issue of Belt Pulley magazine and is also reproduced on this website.) The Orke-Regan Massey-Harris dealership knew from recent past experience that this particular Clipper combine, that arrived in LeRoy in the spring of 1950, would not stay in their inventory very long. Like most Massey-Harris dealerships across the nation, the Orke-Regan dealership was finding that the Clipper combine was a hot selling item. Their instincts were correct. The combine was soon sold to a young farmer in LeRoy Township by the name of Wayne A. Wells. Wayne A. Wells was one of the mass of veterans of the Second World War that had returned to the farm of their parents at the end of the war in 1945-1946. In 1947, Wayne had married Marilyn J. Hanks. Together they had taken over the farming operation from his parents, George and Louise (Schwark) Wells. George and Louise had retired from farming and were now living in a house on Mather Street in the town of LeRoy. As the economy of the United States transitioned from a wartime economy back to a civilian economy, a period of inflation set in during the immediate post-war years. Some price supports for farm prices were reinstated to help farmers during this period of transition. By 1948, however, the last of the farm price supports was removed. However, by this time the market for farm prices was more stable than it had been during the transition period. With the profits from the crops they sold in the fall of 1948, Wayne and Marilyn traded their old 1937 Plymouth car, (called “Felix”) in to the McRoberts Plymouth-DeSoto dealership in LeRoy on a new 1949 Plymouth Tudor Sedan. Like Arno Schull, Wayne Wells understood that mechanization of the farming operations was the only way to survive on the family farm in the new world of post-war America. Accordingly, despite the removal of the price supports and despite the decline of agricultural prices in 1949, Wayne financed a large contract with the Cease & Okansen Dealership, the local International Harvester dealership in LeRoy to purchase a Farmall M tractor, a McCormick-Deering “Little Genius” 3-bottom plow with 14 inch bottoms, a four-row Model 438 mounted cultivator, a four row McCormick-Deering corn planter and a Model 25 semi-mounted sickle-bar mower with a 7-foot cutter bar. In exchange for this equipment, Wayne traded in the 1942 Farmall Model H tractor, the two-row McCormick-Deering Model 238 mounted cultivator and the John Deere two-bottom Model 82 plow that his father, George Wells had obtained during the war. He would like to traded more machinery in on this purchase, like the McCormick-Deering trailing mower with a 5-foot cutter bar, the McCormick grain binder and the John Deere dump rake. However, all this machinery was horse-drawn farm equipment. Despite the fact that the hitching tongues of these particular pieces of farm equipment had been shortened to allow them to be pulled by the Farmall H, all of this farm equipment was regarded as worthless in the eyes of the dealership in the post-war era. During the early summer of 1950, Wayne Wells also visited the Orke-Regan Dealership, which was located directly across Main Street from the Cease & Okansen dealership. There he talked with Stub Orke and signed a contract to purchase the Massey-Harris pull-type Clipper combine that had just been delivered to the dealership a couple of weeks previously. The colder than average winter of 1949-1950 had ended in late March of 1950 and had been followed by a warmer than average spring. Nonetheless, a cold snap at the end of April, and a rain storm in early May, which resulted in an inch of rain, delayed spring planting of the corn. In the short period of time without rain in mid-to-late May, Wayne was able to complete the planting of his corn. With the new four-row corn planter, planting of the corn did not take long. Additionally, this new planter was equipped with four fertilizer boxes, one for each of the four rows of the planter. The corn planter would trip uniformly and plant four hills of corn. The press wheels, on the rear of the planter would roll over the hills of corn and compact the soil over the seeds. Immediately, behind the press wheels, the fertilizer dispenser was timed to dump about a teaspoon of granulated fertilizer on the surface of the ground above each hill of corn. This was the first year that Wayne had fertilized his corn field with commercial fertilizers. The fertilizer had a significant impact on the corn. It sprouted much earlier than usual and grew much faster. The old saying referring to the growth of corn, “Knee high by the fourth of July” was outdated in this new age of commercial fertilizers. The corn was growing so fast that it was well above the knee despite the late planting. Wayne was cultivating his corn for the third time and admiring this growth of his corn during the first week of July. Cultivation of the corn with the new four-row cultivator surely did not take nearly as long as it used to. Rainy weather returned in mid-July and continued for the remainder of the month. When the hot dry weather returned again at the beginning of August, it was time to windrow and harvest the oats. Consequently, Wayne parked the Farmall M under the elm trees behind the wood shed and removed the four-row cultivator from the tractor. He then attached the Quik-Tach drawbar to the rear of the Farmall M. Then he backed the tractor up to the McCormick-Deering Model 25 mower. As a semi-mounted mower, the Model 25 McCormick-Deering mower bolted on to the drawbar of the Farmall M at two locations. The frame of the mower was triangular in shape. At the rear of the mower was a single caster wheel. The attachment to the drawbar was flexible to allow the caster wheel of the mower to carry the weight of the mower even as the tractor and mower rolled over slight rises and dips in the ground. This feature allowed the cutter bar to stay at the same height of cut despite the changing topography of the field. Wayne had used the mower one already for his first cutting of hay earlier in the summer. Now, when he pulled the mower out into the yard, he stopped in the shade of the elm tree near the shop. He removed the grass board located at the end of the cutter bar of the mower. Then he attached the windrowing attachment to the back of the bar. He had purchased this windrowing attachment from Sears, Roebuck and Company. The Sears catalogue had advertised this windrowing attachment in sizes available for all popular horse-drawn and tractor-powered mowers currently on the market. Weighing only 130 lbs., the 7-foot windrowing attachment, Wayne had purchased for his Model 25 mower had cost $29.00 plus delivery charges from the factory in Osh Kosh, Wisconsin to the local Sears store in Spring Valley, Minnesota located 12 miles northeast of the Wells farm. As noted above, Wayne had taken over operation of the 160-acre Wells farm from his parents George and Louise Wells in July of 1947 when he had married Marilyn Hanks. In order to preserve and restore nutrients to the soil of the farm, George Wells had “rotated” he crops on his farm from field to field on an annual basis. The annual rotation progressed from corn to oats to hay and then to pasture and then back to corn again. Sometimes a field would stay in pasture land for two years before being plowed and planted into corn. Since 1947, Wayne had continued this crop rotation system. This morning, after he had finished milking the herd of dairy cows, he had released the cows from their stanchions in the barn. The herd of Holstein and Milking Shorthorn cows backed out of their stanchions and made their way slowly out of the barn into the cow yard. From there they started down the fenced lane that let to the fields of the farm. All the gates to the fields were closed except the gate leading to the field on the southeast corner of the farm. In the summer of 1950, this field was in its second year as pastureland. Accordingly, this field would have to plowed this fall and planted to corn the next spring. The field on the southwest corner of the farm was the hay field in 1950. As soon as the oats were harvested, the hay in this field would be cut and baled for a second time. This was the “second cutting” of hay that would be harvested. Next year this hay field would become the pasture. Now as Wayne drove the Farmall M and Model 25 mower down the lane, he pulled into the gate leading to the field that was immediately adjacent to the north side of the pasture. This was the oat field in 1950. Once inside the field, he knew that he had better close the gate behind him. In the heat of the day the cows would be walking by the gate from that pasture on their way to the cow yard to get some water out of the cow tank. Each cow could drink up to 300 lbs. of water daily. Seeing the gate open to the oat field the cows might be tempted to take a detour into the field and to eat some newly windrowed oats. To prevent this, Wayne pulled the tractor and mower into the field and parked the tractor along the edge of the field with the left rear tire of the Farmall M near the fence. He , then, got down of the operator’s seat and closed the gate to the field to deter the dairy cows from entering the oat field on their way down the lane to the pasture. Then he walked around to the right side of the mower and unbolted and lowered the cutter bar of the mower to the ground. It was another nice crop of oats. The crop was tall and the recent rain storms in July had not blown down or “lodged” too much of the crop. This was a good indication that the crop would be plentiful this year even if the crop was not a bumper crop. The oats were yellow and ripe for harvest. Under his feet, Wayne noticed the young green alfalfa, red clover, timothy and alsike cover plants trying to push up through the oats. This was a “double crop” field. The oats were a “cover crop.” The quick growing oats would be harvested this year. At the same time, the “under crop” of clover, alfalfa, timothy and alsike would become next year’s hay crop. Next year this field would be the hay field in the crop rotation plan. During the present year the under crop of hay would be not be cut. Rather the small plants would be allowed to grow all year to develop a good root system for next year’s growth. Growing two crops at the same time, had meant that the population density of both crops had to be reduced. If oats alone had been planted in the field, Wayne might have planted seed oats at a rate of 3½ bushels per acre. However, because an under crop of hay was being planted at the same time, Wayne had adjusted the seeding rate of his end gate seeder to a rate of 2½ bushels per acre. Had Wayne been sowing hay alone, he might have set the adjustment on the grass distributor to spread hay seed at a rate of 15 pounds per acre. However, because he was sowing both oats and hay at the same time, he had cut the rate of distribution of hay seed down to only 10 pounds per acre. Last spring, Wayne had seeded the oats in this field with his McCormick-Deering end-gate seeder which fit and bolted securely into the end gate of his triple box grain wagon. The triple box grain wagon was largely filled with oats. A durlap sack of full of the hay seed mixture was placed on top of the load of oats. As Marilyn, his wife, or David Fogel, the hired hand, drove the tractor across the field, Wayne shoveled oats into the large hopper of the end gate seeder. He also periodically checked the small grass seeding attachment hopper which was attached to the rear of the large hopper of the end gate seeder. Every so often as the tractor and wagon continued to move across the field, Wayne would take the coffee can and open the durlap sack and scooped out three or four can-fulls of hay seed and pour them into the grass seeding attachment hopper. The end gate seeder and the grass seeding attachment were both powered by a sprocket which was attached to the left rear wheel of the wagon and a chain that ran up from the large wheel sprocket to a smaller sprocket attached to the end gate seeder. A lever on the side of the end gate seeder controlled a clutch which allowed the seeder to be inoperable while the seeder was transported to the field. However, once in the field and once the clutch was engaged, revolving drums at the bottom of both the large oat seed hopper and the small grass seed attachment hopper turned at a pre-set rate and metered out just the right amount of seed as the tractor rolled across the field. The seed that was metered out of the hoppers fell directly onto flat rotary fan-type distributors which revolved at a fast rate of speed. These distributors flung the seed out laterally in back and to the sides of the wagon. The grass seed in the durlap sack was a blend of seeds Wayne had purchased at the Farmers Co-operative elevator uptown in LeRoy, Minnesota. The mixture of seed consisted of four (4) parts red clover, three (3) parts alfalfa, two (2) parts timothy grass and one (1) part alsike clover. Each different variety of seed had its role in growing the hay crop for next year. The most tasty parts of the hay for cattle were the broadleaves and flowers of the alfalfa and the red clover plants. However, both alfalfa and red clover were legumes with broad leaves and consequently were top heavy. As a result, they tended to sprawl rather than grow straight up toward the sun. Thus, these plants, when planted alone, tended to lodge in even slight winds and become difficult to mow. Sturdy and straight timothy, on the other hand, with its shallow root system, tended spring up out of the ground early and offer real physical vertical support for the sprawling legumes. Alsike clover was also a legume, but was shorter than alfalfa and red clover. However, alsike was more rugged than the other three plants in the hay mixture. Alsike could winter over in better condition than the others and could stand up better in wet soil conditions. As a result, despite its minority status (only 10% of the original planting mix), the slow growing alsike clover was expected become more populous as time went by. If this field were to become a pasture in subsequent years, the grazing of the dairy herd would soon leave the alsike clover as the only major crop growing in the field. However, if, as Wayne currently intended, this hay field would be plowed a year from this coming fall, the alsike clover along with the other two legumes would add a great deal of nitrogen to the soil. The roots of these legumes had nodules which contained a good bit of nitrogen. Plowing under this hay crop under would release the nitrogen to the soil of the field. For this reason, legumes were called “green fertilizer” or “green manure.” Taking two cuttings of hay off the field next year, would however, reduce the root mass of the individual plants. Less root mass also meant less nodules full of nitrogen. Therefore, the legumes would lose part of their value as a nitrogen source for soil. In subsequent years, as the dairy herd was turned loose into the old hay field to graze, the legumes would lose even more nitrogen. For this reason, Wayne sometimes kept the same pasture for two years rather than plowing it under every year. Instead, in alternating years when he did not plow the pasture, he would plow the hay field to take advantage of the nitrogen in the roots. The crucial factor in the decision of whether to plow the pasture or the hay field would be the condition of the pasture at the end of the summer. A dry summer might cause the pasture to be over grazed and cause Wayne to plow it under after only one year and move the dairy cows onto the old hay field. Currently, however, as Wayne looked down at these new little hay plants under his feet, Wayne knew that cutting and windrowed the oats would free the young hay plants from the shade in which they had existed until now. From this point on, the young hay plants would begin receiving the full value of the sun light rather then existing in the shadow of the cover crop of oats. The hay crop would winter over in the coming winter season and next year the hay would grow to full maturity and be harvested. All Wayne had to do at this stage was avoid cutting the young alfalfa and clover plants off at ground level as he windrowed the oats. A lift lever on the Model 25 mower allowed Wayne to lift the “inner” end of the cutter bar nearest the pitman. However, to stabilize the “outer” end of the cutter bar and hold the cutter bar at height above the tops of the new growth of hay and, thus, avoid cutting the new hay plants, Wayne had attached a small gauge wheel to the outer end of the cutter bar. Wayne was anxious to see how the new windrowing attachment on the mower would work. With the cutter bar lowered into the oats, this small wheel at the at the end of the cutter bar rested squarely on the ground. The gauge wheel was adjustable. Wayne checked the height of the cutter bar to see if the gauge wheel on the outer end of the needed to needed to be adjusted. Having made the proper adjustments necessary, Wayne climbed back up on the operator’s seat of the Farmall M and reached back with his right hand to the latch and handle of the cutter bar lift lever. This lever allowed his to adjust the inner end of the cutter bar. Then he pushed in the clutch pedal with his left foot and reached down to the back edge of the platform with his right hand and pulled up on the wire ring lever that engages the power take-off (p.t.o.) of the tractor. Shifting into third gear and slowly releasing the clutch, the tractor simultaneously moved forward and the sickle in the cutter bar began cutting the crop. As the crop fell backwards over the cutter bar, the gentle curves of the windrowing attachment curled the whole six-foot wide swath of oats into a narrow golden windrow with the heads of the oats tucked safely inside the windrow. On this first trip around the entire field, Wayne kept the right rear wheel of the Farmall M as close to the fence as possible. He moved in a clockwise direction around the outside perimeter of the entire field. He was not actually cutting the swath of oats nearest the fence. He was actually driving the tractor and mower over these oats nearest the fence. As he made this first trip around the field, the wheels of the Farmall M and the single wheel of the mower tread upon the outer most six-feet of oats. Completing the first entire circuit around the field he turned the corner near the gate where he had begun the round. Immediately without stopping the mower was lined up on the next seven-foot section of uncut oats. He steered the front wheels of the tractor so that they ran along beside the windrow of oats he had just made. As he moved along, the windrow passed under the left axle housing of the Farmall M untouched by either the front wheels or the left rear wheel. He wanted to leave the windrow as undisturbed as possible, so as not “thresh” the oats in the windrow and have the oats fall onto the ground and be wasted. He kept making circuits of the field each smaller than the previous circuit until the field was filled windrows forming a series of concentric rectangles. The last circuit of the field was to make a windrow out of the standing oats near the fence. To windrow this grain, Wayne turned the tractor and mower around and proceeded in a counter-clockwise direction around the field as he cut and windrowed the outer swath of oats nearest the fence. As he did so, he had to be careful not get the outer end of the cutter bar caught in the wire fence. Thanks to the favorable drying weather in August of 1950, Wayne was able to complete the windrowing of the oats and begin combining the crop immediately. With the reel of the combine and the sickle of the combine already removed and the Innes pickup already attached to the feeding platform, Wayne hitched his Farmall M tractor to the Clipper combine and took it to the field. After he got the combine in the field, he checked the tension on the belts of the combine one more time. Then he started the little Wisconsin engine with the hand crank that had been provided. Next he opened the throttle of the air-cooled engine. Then he crawled up into the tractor seat and reached around behind him to to carefully push in the cluth lever of the combine. The combine came alive and began to shake with activity. The dark blue Innes pickup formed a nice contrast to the Massey-Harris red color of the rest of the combine and the golden brown of the windrowed oats lying on top of the stubble and the green of next year’s hay crop peeking up through the stubble. Wayne shifted the Farmall M into second gear and maneuvered the steering wheel of the tractor so that the feeder platform and the Innes of the combine was lined up with the second windrow in the field. As he carefully released the clutch the combine proceeded ahead and began gobbling up the windrow of oats. After a few rounds of the field in a clockwise direction, Wayne would turn the combine around and travel in the opposite direction as he combined the first or outer most windrow in the field. The combine worked well gathering up and threshing all the windrows in the field. Wayne’s only concern arose at the corners of the field. The windrower sometimes left a large clump of oats and straw at the corners of the windrows When this clump made its way over the Innes pickup and up the canvas apron on the feeder platform Wayne always pressed in the clutch of the tractor to stop all forward of the combine and reach around to grab the clutch control of the combine. The 21 hp air-cooled Wisconsin engine seemed designed to meet the power requirements of the Clipper combine when the cutter bar and the reel were mounted on the combine for standing crops. However, with the power demands of a windrow pickup subtracting from the engine there was precious little reserve power available to meet the demands of threshing a heavy portion of the windrow such as these the clump of grain at the corners of the field. Sometimes it was wiser to stop the tractor, disengage the combine clutch and dismount the tractor to spread out an especially large clump. Wayne always held his breathe while the clump made its way into the cylinder and he heard the little Wisconsin engine buckle down under the strain of the additional load. Chances were strong that the little Wisconsin engine would stall while the clump was only half-way through the cylinder. Wayne knew from experience that when the little Wisconsin engine stalled on a hot summer day, it would be nearly impossible to start immediately. When the Wisconsin VE-4 engine did stall there was really nothing to do but to wait for the engine to cool before attempting to start it again. Waiting during the busy harvest season was an exasperating experience. This year, as Wayne made his way around the outside of the oat field for the first time, he found that the 25-bushel grain tank was full before he finished making the entire circuit of the field. He took the tractor out of the gear and disengaged the clutch of the combine. As he did so he heard the Wisconsin rev up to its maximum rpm with no load on the engine. Wayne dismounted the tractor and made his way back to the Wisconsin engine to release the throttle to allow it to idle. Wayne believed that this sudden revving up without a load on the engine was hard on the engine. Later, Wayne would fashion a cable and small pulley system on the combine that would allow him to release throttle from the drivers seat of the tractor. That way he could reduce the time that the engine revved up to full rpm without a load. As Wayne dismounted the Farmall M, he could see his father, George C. Wells, driving his old 1936 Minneapolis-Moline Model MTA tractor across the field pulling a wagon. Both Wayne’s parents, George and Louise Wells had driven out to the farm from their home uptown in their dark blue 1946 Ford sedan, to help out with the harvest. Louise could help out with dinner and the care of Wayne and Marilyn’s one year-old son—the current author. After he had retired George had purchased the MTA and a John Deere two-bottom plow with 14 inch bottoms in order to help out with the field work on the farm. Although a pre-war tractor, the Model MTA was fitted with factory-installed rubber tires front and rear, mounted on drop-center rims with cast iron centers. Today, George had arrived on the farm in time to see Wayne already in the field with the combine. He started the MTA with its hand crank and hitched the tractor to a wagon and started for the field. Arriving at the field he had started crossing the field in a counter-clock-wise direction. He drove carefully to keep the wheels of the tractor and the steel wheels of the wagon off the un-combined windrows in the field. As his father pulled the wagon close along left side of the Clipper combine, Wayne turned the spout of the grain elevator around out of the grain bin on the combine and directed the spout into the wagon. Then he moved to the rear of the combine and moved a control lever at the bottom of the grain elevator. this lever opened a door at the bottom of the grain bin on the combine. Oats then began pouring out of the 25 bushel grain bin on the combine into a into a 6-inch sheet metal pipe with an auger inside. Then, Wayne engaged the clutch of the combine. The idling Wisconsin engine had no trouble handling the light load of operating the grain elevator. Oats began pouring out of the grain elevator and sliding down the chute into the empty wagon. Soon the yellow mound of oats seen sticking above the rim of the grain bin on the combine began to sink down out of sight into the grain bin. In no time at all the grain bin would be empty. There was just enough time for a drink of ice cold water out of a quart jar that George had brought out the field from the house and just a little time for Wayne to discuss with his father whether the crop looked as though it would make 45 bushels to the acre or not this year, before the bin was empty. Wayne said that when he reached the corner by the gate, he would empty out the grain bin again before heading off on another round of the field again. In later years, Wayne would add a wooden frame extension to the top of the grain bin in order to increase the capacity of the grain bin. This extension on the 25-bushel grain would allow the combine to make a complete trip around the field without making a stop to empty the grain bin. Later still, Wayne would design and weld a hitch that would be bolted to the combine to allow a wagon to be towed alongside and be filled as the oats were harvested. Wayne did not raise soybeans on his farm, but he had a chance to use the Clipper combine while doing some custom harvesting of soybeans in the fall of 1961 for a neighbor, LeRoy Wyatt. Throughout the 1950s technological advances in farm production occurred at an accelerating rate. By the end of the 1950s because of those advances in technology, the individual North American farmer was able to produce more agricultural products. Whereas in 1950, the average farmer in the United States could feed himself and 27.2 other people, by 1960 this same farmer was feeding himself and 46.2 other people. Because of this increase in the productivity, surpluses and low prices for farm commodities was the order of the day throughout the 1950s. Since the end of World War II, soybeans had become an important part of agricultural production. Surpluses in the production of soybeans had driven the price of soybeans from $2.72 per bushel down to 2.00 per bushel in 1958. In 1959, soybean prices reached the bottom of $1.97 per bushel before starting to climb again. Wayne Wells raised very few soybeans. Never devoting a full field in his crop rotation to soybeans, he only planted soybeans over part of his corn field. This, however, encroached on the acerage of corn that he could raise. Since corn was a feed crop as well as a cash crop, he hesitated to raise soybeans at all. Nonetheless, the rise in soybean prices in 1960, gave encouragement to soybean farmers again. This was a signal that demand had finally caught up with production. The surpluses were gone. Agricultural market forecasters began to assert that the turn around in prices was the start of another long period of increasing prosperity for North American farmers. Anticipating that 1961 would bring another increase in the price of soybeans, one farmer in the neighborhood, LeRoy Wyatt, rented a 400-acre piece of land and proceeded to plant the entire piece of land in soybeans. The soybeans grew well all summer and the price of soybeans remained high reaching $2.53 per bushel in August of 1961. So far, LeRoy Wyatt’s plan was working out well. However, the wet weather in the fall of 1961 threatened his plans. The wet conditions caused LeRoy to fall behind in harvesting the vast amount of soybeans he had planted. Accordingly, LeRoy decided to hire other farmers in the neighborhood to help him harvest the soybeans. Wayne Wells accepted the invitation to perform a little custom harvesting with his combine. He removed the Innes pickup attachment from the feeder platform and reinstalled the sickle in the cutter bar and installed the reel on the feeder of his Clipper combine. The first two weeks of November of 1961 offered a respite from the autumn rains. And farmers from around the neighborhood gathered to harvest the soybeans. However, after the first day on the still moist ground, Leroy Wyatt requested that his neighbors use the smallest tractors they had to pull their combines. In this way, he sought to avoid having his fields heavily rutted by large tractors. Wayne had another tractor, a 1941 Farmall Model B tractor. However, he was reluctant to use the Farmall B with the compbine. The 1941 Farmall be was not outfitted with electric lights. Thus the tractor could not be on the roads at night. Thus he could not drive the tractor home every night as he had planned. His wife, Marilyn would have to come to the Wyatt farm and pick him up every night in the family car. Furthermore, whereas the Farmall M was outfitted with a “heat houser” against the cold November air, thdere was no heat houser for the Farmall Model B. It promised to be a cold task working in the Wyatt soybean fields with the combine pulled by the Farmall B. Luckily, November of 1961 was blessed by some unseasonably warm weather. Nonetheless, Wayne Wells returned home that night and the next day set about reluctantly modifying the drawbar of the Farmall B to pull the Clipper combine. SWayne welded together a 6-inch piece of “I-beam” with some metal straps to form a raised drawbar which he, then, bolted to the low drawbar of the Farmall Model B. This new raised drawbar on the Farmall B would then approximate the height of the drawbar on the 1950 Farmall M. If only the Clipper combine required a PTO power source rather than the little Wisconsin engine. The Farmall B could not be used to pull and operate the combine. the Farmall B lacked the necessary horse power to both pull the Clipper combine and operate it by power take-off at the same time. If the Clipper were powered by power take-off, Wayne would have an excuse to keep on using the Farmall M that he preferred. Wayne’s reluctance to employ the Famall B in this task was not shared by the Wells children—the current author, his brother and his sister. The Farmall B was the favorite tractor of the children of the family and to them it looked like the little tractor was being called on at this crucial time to save the harvest in 1961. The Famall B pulled the Clipper combine for the remainder of the harvest season on the Wyatt soybean farm. The entire soybean harvest was completed before the first snow fell in mid November. LeRoy Wyatt fit a national trend. A new record of nearly 27 million acres of arable land in the United States were planted to soybeans in 1961. The growing season had been so favorable in 1961, that only 2.8% of the total acreage planted in soybeans had been lost due to flooding and other natural calamities. Thus, a new record national yield of 25.1 bushels of soybeans per acre was reached in 1961, resulting in 678,554,000 bushels of soybeans coming to market in 1961. Mower County was slightly behind the national average with 24 bushels per acre but nonetheless, the county set a new soybean production record of 1,749,600 bushels. Despite the heavy crop, the price of soybeans continued to climb. It reached $2.51 per bushels as a yearly average for the entire year of 1961. Even though harvesting soybeans did not require the same power drain of a windrow pickup mounted on the combine and, although the cool weather did not create the same hot engine conditions as did the blazing sun of July, the Wisconsin engine on the clipper remained the main worry for Wayne as he worked the combine in the fall of 1961. Finally, over the winter of 1961-62 Wayne purchased another Clipper combine from a junk yard. The only difference between this Clipper and the combine he already owned was that the junk combine had a seven-foot cutter bar and feeding platform and contained a PTO shaft connection shaft rather than a Wisconsin engine. The junk combine was designed and built to be powered from the PTO shaft of the tractor that was simultaneously pulling the combine. It was this PTO connection on the junk combine that interested Wayne Wells and was the reason why he purchased the junk Clipper combine. He removed the PTO shaft from the junk combine and replaced the Wisconsin engine from his own combine with the PTO connection shaft. Now the combine would be powered by the same tractor that was pulling the combine. For this job a three-plow tractor was recommended. Delivering 25 hp. to the drawbar and 33 hp. to the belt pulley/PTO the Farmall Model M was well within the three-plow category to handle the job of powering as well as pulling the Clipper combine in the field. However, the Farmall B which delivered only 13 hp. to the drawbar and only 16 hp. to the belt pulley/PTO was definitely too small to power and pull the Clipper combine in field operations. Consequently, from this point on, the Farmall B could not be used to operate the combine. Wayne Wells’ past experience trying to start the Wisconsin engine on hot days in the field was another very persuasive reason why Wayne made this switch of power sources for his Clipper combine. However, perhaps also in the back of his mind, was the fact that never again could he be forced to use the Farmall B to pull the combine as he had been during the time that he worked on the Wyatt farm. Meanwhile, back in rural Blue Earth County, Anro Schull was having his own problems with the Wisconsin engine on his Clipper combine. Although his combine was fitted with a Massey-Harris windrow pickup attachment which may have placed less load on the power source of the combine that the Innes pickup attachment, Arno still found that the Massey Harris pickup attachment placed demands on the Wisconsin engine that kept the engine working near the top of its capacity without any reserve power. Thus, Arno also found that the engine would stall under the additional load of any clump or heavy section of windrow in the field. Arno also learned that the Wisconsin engine was hard to start on hot days of the harvest season. Accordingly, Arno fixed a drill bit for his ¾ inch electric drill which would fit the crank hole of the Wisconsin engine. This provided him with a kind of electric starting for the Wisconsin. However, the fault with this system was that Arno needed to have the combine near a electrical outlet to use this “electric starter.” Many people have related similar experiences of the difficulties they had with the Wisconsin VE-4 air-cooled engine in hot weather. Many people have speculated as to what the problem actually was that created difficulty in re-starting the engine when it stalled in hot weather. Previous articles have quoted Ed Bredemier of the J.I. Case Collectors Association, saying that the problem was related to a combination of the extremely short stroke of the VE-4 engine (3¼ inch stroke and a 3 inch bore) along with the fact that the motor oil became too thin when the engine was hot, resulting in a lack of vacuum being created by the pistons and a lack of sufficient air/fuel mixture being drawn into each cylinder when the engine was hot. Thus, only when the engine cooled to the point where the oil once more thickened and vacuum in the manifold increased, would the engine start. Anther theory is that the problem was due to the fact that the engine block was in the shape of a V and the Zenith or Stromberg carburetor was located right in the valley of the V. When the engine was hot all the gasoline in the carburetor would evaporate from the intense heat. Thus, until the engine cooled sufficiently, there would be no gasoline at all in the air mixture drawn into the cylinders. James Schull, son of Arno, grew up to become a small engine mechanic by trade. He has another theory. James points out that not only was the carburetor located in the valley of the engine, where the heat escaping from the stalled engine would necessarily be the hottest, but also the magneto was also located in the valley of the engine as well. James alleges that the excessive amount of heat produced by the stalled engine would also cause the magneto to malfunction. Thus, no spark would be available to the spark plugs until the engine and the magneto had been allowed to cool. There probably us a number of reasons why the Model VE-4 engine would not restart after stalling on a hot day, but whatever the specific reason, the little Wisconsin engine caused frustration to many farmers. As noted above, Wayne Wells removed the engine from his combine. Arno Schull, eventually, ceased using his Clipper combine altogether for and sought to have his oats and soybeans custom harvested. The Wisconsin Model VE-4 engine from the Schull combine was eventually removed from the combine by James Schull and was mounted on a home-made chassis with a differential and a rear suspension from a 1949 Plymouth. This became a go-kart for the Schull children and the visiting Wells children.