The Combine Harvester
The combine harvester is the most modern harvester of wheat. It’s called a combine because it “combines” the job of the header and thresher which were its predecessors. The first combine was made by Hiram Moore in 1836 and was ahead of its time. Being so far ahead of its it took the harvester awhile to come up big. After it did become the dominant harvesting method, it changed the way the world ran. It was successful because it made farming safer, more profitable, and brought food to many. But through the1800s, the header and the thresher were king.
The header was pushed through the field by six horses from the back of the machine. Pushing from the back reduced crop trampling. On the front edge of the header was a row of sharp teeth called sickles. Sliding back and forth in a blur, they touched the wheat stalk first and sliced it. To keep the wheat from falling on the ground, a reel circled around and paddles knocked the wheat into the header. Then a draper in the bottom of the header slid to the side of the header like the belt on the checkout counter of a grocery store. The wheat went up a sort of chute, and fell down into a wagon driving alongside the header. This wagon was pulled by four horses. When the wagon was full, the header stopped, the wagon pulled out, another came in, and they started over. All moving parts were turned by a gear. The header was 12 feet wide and could cut around 30 acres a day. The thresher was first run by horses walking in circles. Later, steam engines ran the machine. The wagon was unloaded and wheat was dropped next to the thresher. Here it was pitched inside the thresher. The thresher threshed the wheat until the kernels fell from the head. The kernels, having now been threshed, came back out of the machine in one spot, the straw and chaff came out another. The total harvest crew was about 30 men and 30 horses.
In the early 1900s it was the combine’s time. The combine used the same number of people;...