Route 1, Assaria, Kansas 67416
When I bought the machine, I also received the patent papers for it. This gave me a chance to see what the machine was about. As strange as it looks, the machine is really quite simple. Basically, Mr. Yockers did the same thing Jerome I. Case and the Pitts Brothers did. He took a threshing device and connected it to a cleaning device. The threshing device is a threshing machine cylinder, but the cleaning device looks quite different than the usual threshing machine cleaning section. The machine was made to handle only small, not large quantities of material, so the beater cylinder, shoes, and fishbacks are missing and really not needed. The resulting device is nothing more than a fanning mill, and if one would compare this cleaning device to a fanning mill or seed cleaner, he would find the two to be very similar, Mr. Yocker's fanning mill even employing the side to side vibratory motion some fanning mills used; rather than the usual up and down rocking motion. So the machine is a cylinder connected to fanning mill, just like the earliest threshing machines.
The patent papers describe the object of the invention to thresh cane, Kafir corn, etc. and accomplish this result without topping the material and without cracking the grain. The invention is then described in detail and also how it works to the detail. At the end of the papers, the invention, what is new and discovered, is claimed, here I quote: 'In a thrashing machine, a housing, a fan casing communicating therewith, a fan in the casing, a screen frame, means for suspending the frame, a lower screen within the frame, a middle screen extending over part of the lower screen, an upper screen extending over portions of both of the other screens, and means for vibrating the frame, the main portions of the upper and middle screens extending on opposite sides of a vertical plane passing through their free and overlapping edges, and adjacent edges of these screens constituting discharge edges terminating approximately in said vertical plane, the flow of material over the discharge edge of the middle screen being retarded at that edge by material flowing from the upper screen.'
As a result, the method of feeding the cylinder, eliminating topping the cane is rather novel, but not novel enough to be part of the patent. The major objective was to construct a machine which wouldn't crack grain. In talking to old thresher men, what determines what cracks the grain is the cylinder setting and the number of concaves used, the cleaning or separating section having no effect on cracking what so ever. But the invention, what is described as new and different, is the cleaning part, a housing with vibrating screens and a fan enclosed to blow trash from the seed. So all Mr. Yocker's invented that was new and different, was a different variation of the fanning mill.
Nothing is mentioned about the threshing cylinder which determines the condition of the grain. But then, nothing more was used here than an old threshing cylinder and concaves from a threshing machine. An old neighbor of mine who threshed wheat as late as the early 1950's said he threshed milo a few times with his threshing machine and came out with good results. So what was the problem back in 1920 with the cracked grain? The machine should have been able to do a good job. Maybe the thresherman didn't know his machine that well or had a poor machine. Also the possibility arises that whole bundles were put through the machine and all of the extra material made it impossible to get a good cylinder setting. But then, topping of the cane was tried, but without success. So Mr. Yockers really didn't come up with anything radically new and different and maybe this was why he wasn't able to sell his patent. I hope one can follow my reasoning and so-so analysis of the invention. 1 don't mean to tear down the invention, but when it is studied, discrepancies do appear. But in spite of all that, the machine is a masterpiece. It accomplished what Mr. Yockers wanted it to and did it well. The machine is homemade, but is not a collection of junk. It is a well-built, well-designed machine that could and did take years of use. I think the machine is also a tribute to the American farmer and his inventive spirit, taking materials at hand and building a device, something nobody else has, but suited to fit the farmer's own particular need or needs.
As I have said before, the machine I have is the original one Mr. Yockers built. However, it is a little different than the one portrayed in the drawings. The front end of the middle screen pivots on a rod and the back of the screen can be lowered or raised, regulating the amount of trash being thrown out. The bottom screen ends in a trough, chaff and trash settling in here are shaken to the tailings elevator and returned to the cylinder. That weird thing on top of the cylinder is a blower fan. Feeding the machine was quite dirty. Mr. Yockers mounted this fan to suck up some of the dirt and dust floating around and keep the feeding operation cleaner. One old farmer said it helped, but it was still a dirty job. At first, the machine was mounted on Model T Ford axles with steel wheels on the spindles. Later this was changed to the present arrangement of later Ford axles with roller bearings and rubber tires. The original engine was a Model T, this was later changed to the present engine, a 1927 Waukesha engine from an International combine. The old Waukesha runs alright but could use an overhaul, also the machine needs a new coat of red paint, but outside of this, the machine is in fine shape and is always shedded. I showed and ran the machine at the annual Wheat celebration at Goessel, Kansas in August of 1976 and it sure drew a lot of curious spectators. My apologies to those who saw it -1 didn't have a sign as to what it was. With the new paint job it is going to get, some lettering on the sides should remedy this. But it sure was fun standing around and listening to all of the wild notions and ideas as to what it was and how it worked! Some speculated it was fed from the bottom, others said part of it was missing and its use ranged from a peanut shelter to an alfalfa huller!
In addition to having a weird-looking threshing machine, I also have other threshing machines, tractors and engines, which I have collected the last couple of years. One of these I would like to share with you, the pride of my engine collection and a real jewel, a 1905 (?) 7 HP. Monitor, ser. no. 9,981, Type V-J, manufactured by Baker Manufacturing of Evansville, Wisconsin. According to one old timer, this engine was originally bought and used in an elevator in Fairmont (?), Oklahoma. After several years of use, the rod bearing went out, knocking a hole in the back side of the base of the engine in the process. The engine being old at the time, was removed from the elevator and tossed in a junk pile. However, one employee, recognizing that it could be fixed and several more years gotten out of the engine, contacted his cousin, Fred Schroeder, who had a farm four miles west of Goessel, Kansas. Mr. Schroeder's son was beginning to take full responsibility of the farm, so Mr. Schroeder was putting together a blacksmith shop to service the farm and other farms in the area. He had some equipment, but needed a large engine to run his line shafts. This old Monitor his cousin had located seemed perfect, so he hitched up his team to his lumber wagon and drove down to Oklahoma. There he bought the engine for ten dollars and hauled it back to Goessel. He repaired the engine and hooked it up to his line shaft which drove his lathe, disc roller, grinder and trip hammer. Mr. Schroeder operated this shop from 1927 up to his death in the early 1950's. The shop and equipment remained intact until his son, Mr. Walter Schroeder, sold it at his estate sale in August of 1974. There I had to put up a battle to get the engine from some of the area collectors, but it has been well worth it. The engine ran when I got it, so in the next couple of weeks I cleaned most of the grease from it and showed it at the Red Turkey Wheat Celebration in Goessel that year. The next spring, I showed it at a gas-up of the Wheat Heritage Engine and Threshing Company at Leigh, Kansas.
This year I have been going through the engine. I have had it sandblasted, painted with a rustprimer paint and made up a set of fancy trucks to move it around. Over all, the engine is in pretty good shape, due to the excellent care the Schroeders gave it. I have had the rod bearing repoured, the top head resurfaced, and am having the piston done over. The engine was bored out years ago, but the cylinder is still in good shape and the rings still pretty thick, but the piston was sprayed with metal and run down to size, an over sizing method that went over big in the 1930's. This zinc coating is peeling off and is being re-sprayed by an old master machinist in the area.
The only other engine I have seen like it other than 6 HP. Monitors, is a 7 HP. at Minden, Nebraska, in Pioneer Village. It is exactly like mine, with ser. no. 6,-, but is painted blue, red and green, which I doubt are the original colors. A fellow collector thought that originally it was painted red with gold trim, but wasn't sure. So, I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has one of these engines or has information about them.
The engine is a good show piece, runs very smooth for a one-lunger, and is rather unusual. A few of the oddities are the five-spoke flywheels, spark plug ignition (others at this time used ignitors), overhead water hopper, 50 1b. cast iron gas tank, and the engine itself, being in a vertical position with that large a horsepower. Mr. Fred Schroeder left his mark all over the engine. In one of the pictures you can see the patch he put over the hole that the rod made. Also, the fly-wheel governor weight, the pulley, the rocker arm that operates the exhaust valve, one of the side plates over one of the main bearings, and some other small parts seem to have been broken or missing when he obtained the engine, and these handmade parts are examples of Mr. Schroeder's fine blacksmith craftsmanship.