(sad story of a machine that decreased labour and increased our food supply)

Risa…here it is much reduced

alan skeoch

“Alan, maybe you would like this old machine we are throwing out,”  said Stephanie,”
“What does it look like?”
“Long, faded orange/red, with faded marking saying ‘Simson Merner, New Hamburg, Ontario’…”

“Stephanie, I gave that threshing machine to the City of Mississauga, more than 20 years ago, long before you worked there.  They did not give me a receipt.  Why is it being dumped?”
“So sorry, Alan.  Hate to do this. The  ‘powers that be’ want the space…no one seems to know why the machine is sitting in the Bradley Museum barn.”
“I gave it to the city…A very early Canadian made thresher probably the only surviving machine of its kind.”
“Well, it has to go. Not my idea. Embarrassing! ”
“Give me a few days.  I’ll arrange something.”

Canada is 150 years old this year.  Same age as the Simson Merner Thresher…or damn close to that.

“Dad, how do you know Simson Merner made the machine?”
“Take a look…he signed his name…used a stencil with black paint.  Still readable.”
“Who was he?”

Why do our sons grin so sceptically at times?

“Let me tell you about Simson.  First  is that he was Samuel Merners son.  The Merners left or were pushed out of Switzerland in 1823.”
“Religion does strange things to people.  A lot of Swiss became followers of a Dutch Protestant by the name of Mennon.  Other Swiss did not like this new Mennonite religion so they drove the believers out of the country.  Nasty time.  The Merners kept on the move and by 1837 they arrived in Waterloo County, Ontario,  along with a bunch of co-religonists we call the Pennsylvania Dutch.  German speaking Swiss origins.”
“Dad, just tell me about the machine…the Thresher.”
“Samuel Merner opened a blacksmith shop in New Hamburg in 1844.  He spent his working days making tools to clear land, to harvest crops and to build houses.  Axes, hammers, scythes, sickles…small things.”
“This Thresher is not small, Dad.”
“Samuel’s older son, Simson, had bigger ideas.  He designed and built various small threshing machines.  Demand was big. Fields of Waterloo County had rich soil…great crops.  High prices. Spare cash. All these pushed the demand for bigger, more modern, machines by farmers.”
“One guy could not build these machines…”
“Right.  Simson Merner persuaded a machinist named John Beam to help. Along with many others, they built a few threshing machines like tis one.  A series of crank shafts, spur gears, a movable deck…all combined here.+
“Dad, what is a spur gear?”
“You must think I am some kind of genius.  I have no idea what a spur gear is.  I only see the big picture.”
“How did this machine thresh grain.  Where did the power come from?”
“See that big wheel on the side?  Merner hooked the machine to an endless rope…later an endless belt.”
“How can a rope be endless?”
“Use your head.  The rope became endless when one end was attached to the other end.  A great loop.  Endless. Wrap one end of the loop around the thresher cylinder wheel and the other end to a power source.”
“What power source?”
“A team of horses going in a circle…turning sprocketed gears.”
“Tractor would be better.”
“Right.  The machines were eventually hooked to big steam engines via the endless belts.  That may be the reason only this machine has survived.”
“What do you mean?”
“Those steam engines shook the hell out of the Threshers…shook them to pieces.  New machines came along just like new cars do today.”
“What would happen if we hooked this Thresher to a big electric motor…or a hundred horsepower diesel tractor?”
“Andrew, you would want to get of the way.”
“Because there would be pieces of iron and shards of wood flying in all directions.  The machine would disintegrate.  Do not get any fancy ideas.”
“What happened to Simson Merner?”
“He became a successful man…in 1897 some money people invested their wealth with Simson. They created the New Hamburg Manufacturing Company and got into the making of steam engines along with a few threshing machines.  This is the lone survivor.”
“If it is so important, why does nobody seem to want it, Dad?”
“Beats me, Andrew.”
“What are you going to do with now, Dad.”
“Beats me, Andrew.

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