Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/962

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945
REAPING


as enable the workman, with an easy stoop. to swing the scythe blade along the ground, the cutting edge being slightly elevated to keep it clear of the inequalities of the surface. The grain-reaping scythe is similar, but provided with a, cradle or short gathering rake attached to the heel and following the direction of the blade for about 12 in. The object of this attachment is to gather the stalks as they are cut and lay them in regular swaths against the line of still-standing corn. The reaping scythe, instead of a long sned, has frequently two helves, the right hand branching from the left or main helve and the two handles placed about 2 ft apart. The best scythe blades are made from rolled sheets of steel, riveted to a back frame of iron, which gives strength and rigidity to the blade. On the continent of Europe it is still common to mould and hammer the whole blade out of a single piece of steel, but such scythes are difficult to keep keen of edge. There is a great demand for scythes in Russia, chiefly supplied from the German empire and Austria. The principal manufacturing centre of scythes and sickles in the United Kingdom is Sheffield. It was not until the beginning of the IQIII century that any attempt was made to invent a reaping machine on anything like the lines 'that have been adopted since. In 1826 the Rev. Patrick Bell of Carmylie in F ifeshire brought out the first successful machine. He had Worked at the making of it when a young man on his father's farm, and the principle he adopted, that of a series of scissors fastened on the “ knife-board, ” was followed for a long time. There had been many trials during the thirty or forty years before his time both in this country and in America, but his invention was the first practical success. After many modifications, however, the present or recent form of the common reaper was evolved by C. H. McCormick in America in 1831. Atruck or carriage is carried on two travelling wheels some 30 to 3,6 in. high, with spuds or teeth on the circumference to make them “ bite ” the ground and thus give motion to the machinery without skidding; two horses are yoked in front with a pole between, with martingale and surcingle belts as part of their harness, to ease the backing of the machine by the horses; the knife-board is fixed out at right angles to the side of the carriage and in front, while the knives consist of a series of triangular “sections” 'on a bar which travels backwards and forwards in slots in the “ fingers, ” as the dividing teeth are called. The motion was given to the knives by a connecting rod and crank driven by suitable gearing ffom the truck wheels. The cutting was thus done by a straight shearing action and not by clipping like scissors as in Bell's machine.

There were many modifications tried before the favourite form was ultimately adopted: thus the horses were yoked behind the truck or carriage of the machine so that they pushed it before them; a. revolving web of cloth was placed behind the knives so as to deliver the cut corn in a continuous swathe at the side; revolving “sails” or “ rakes ” pushed the standing grain against the knives as the machine advanced-some of which arrangements have been revived in our modern string binders-and so on.

In the early days-from about 1860 to 1870-machines were htted with a tilting board behind the cutting bar which caught the corn as it fell, and it was held there until enough for a sheaf was gathered, when the load was “ tilted” off by a suitable rake handled by a man who sat and worked the tilting board simultaneously with his foot and dropped the corn, to be lifted and tied into a sheaf by hand afterwards. The same machine was generally used for mowing (grass) by an interchange of parts, and the “ combined ” reaper and mower was in common use in the 'seventies and 'eighties. Later, various devices were adopted to do the tilting or sheafing mechanically, and the self end delivery and self side-delivery have long been in use whereby through the adoption of revolving rakes on frames the sheaf-lots are delivered in sizes ready for tying up by hand. The subsequent tying or binding was done variously in different parts of the country. In the south of England it was customary for five men to make bands, lift the sheaf-lot, place in the band and tie, and leave the sheaf lying on the ground to be set up afterwards, the gang of five being expected to keep up on a reaper cutting round the four sides of a field. In the north and in Scotland the cutting was only done on one side at a time, the machine riding back empty, and three boys made the bands (“ straps ”), three women lifted the lots and laid them on the bands, and three men bound the sheaves and set up in stooks. Thus three gangs of three each were required to keep a machine going, and only about five acres per day could be reaped in this way.

FIG. 1.-The Hornsby String-binder. The development of the modern binder to reduce all this labour has been a very gradual process. There was no great difficulty in cutting the corn and delivering the stuff, but the tying of it into sheaves was the problem to be solved. As early as 18 58 Marsh in America designed and carried out an arrangement whereby the cut grain crop was caught on revolving webs of canvas and carried up on to a table, where two men stood who made bands of its own material and bound it into sheaves as it fell in front of them, dropping the sheaves off on to the ground as made, while the machine travelled along. The invention of a tying apparatus was the next advance, and in the seventies the American firm of Walter A. Wood & Co. brought out an arrangement for tying the sheaves up with wire. So slow and expensive had been the process of evolution, however, that it was reported at the time that the above firm had spent £20,000 in invention and experiment before they had even a wire-binder ht to put on the market. Binding with string,

however, was the aim of

all, and it was reserved

for ]. F. Appleby, an

English inventor, to hit

on the arrangement now

in use, or which was the

prototype of all the knotters

now to be met with

in different varieties of

world.

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FIG. 2.—The Hornsby Knot as tied by the String-binder.

the string-binder throughout the While the string-binder is now in universal use in Great Britain, the British Colonies, America and all countries where farming and farm work are advanced, and hand labour is only followed where peasant-farming or small farming obtains, it must be noted that in certain regions the system of reaping or harvesting of corn crops has developed a good deal beyond this. In Australia and some of the hotter districts in the west of the United States the “ stripper ” is in use, an implement which carries long grooved teeth which are passed through the standing grain crop and strip off the heads, leaving the straw standing. The heads are passed backwards to a thrashing (rubbing) arrangement, which separates the corn from the chobs, chaff, &c., and the grain is sacked up straight away. The sacks are dropped off the machine as the work proceeds and are picked up by wagon for transport afterwards. It is a significant fact that strippers worked by hand, though pushed through the crop by oxen, were in use on the plains of Gaul in the first