I Never Saw One Of Those Before!

Fordson tractor

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R #1, Box 165 Washington, Iowa 52353

As long as I can remember, my dad kept saying someone ought to fix up that 1927 Gleaner combine that he had taken off a Fordson tractor and parked in the maple grove in 1938 or '39. About five years ago, when I showed some interest in restoring the combine, he did drag some parts to his place, from the farm where it sat. But even at age 75 he was too busy to work on the project himself.

Over the years he had stripped much of the angle and flat irons to use on other projects, so many parts were missing. Southeastern Iowa weather had even rusted away part of the cylinder bars. I asked for help from anyone I met at swap meets and finally got some leads at the Waukee, Iowa Swap Meet and at the Old Threshers at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. In the fall of 1985, on the way from the Chickasha, Oklahoma Auto Parts Swap Meet, I checked out some of my leads in Kansas and Nebraska. One fellow had parts from three different years of Gleaners, but not enough for one combine. At Oak, Nebraska I bought a 1927 parts machine.

The winter of '85-'86 I worked over my 1922 Fordson tractor. Someone who had been there before me, years ago, had overhauled and re-worked it and then worn it out again. My boys had taken it apart 15 years ago and then left it in a pile in the corner of the shop. First I sent out the block to get the main bearings and rods babbitted. I went all through the tractor from one end to the other. The only bolts I did not have out were the ones that held the radiator together. Finally it was cleaned up and painted.

In September 1986 I drove to Nebraska and brought the combine home. Bill Overturff had a good boom on his tractor. We got the separator unit and the header inside a 6x16' covered livestock trailer, got the door shut and put the bin in the pickup bed. When I got home I was discouraged with what I had. I called another good lead in Kansas that I had had for six months and was told he had sold a Gleaner combine and tractor just two weeks earlier. Now the machine I had began to look better than the rusted out ones my dad had, and besides, he was convinced he would restore his, himself, someday so I decided to fix what I had. Someone had cut and reworked the mounts and made the Gleaner to fit a GP John Deere so I had to re-do them. My dad let me copy some parts he had that I was missing. Almost all the wood in the machine had to be replaced. A fellow Fordson collector sent me Xerox copies of the owner's manual and parts list, showing how to mount the machine. I had taken some photos of a mounted machine the same as mine which was a great help in putting it together. My daughter's father-in-law, in Kansas, had a 1942 pull type Gleaner, and from him I got a chaffer to rebuild, a reel, guards and other parts. I even got some new parts from Gleaner dealers, like sprockets and clips that were still the same as early 50's self-propelled models with raddles. The owner of the local welding shop where I have my lathe work done gives hobby work a low priority, so I reminded him that December was the slow time for farm repairs.

The winter of '86-'87 was a mild one in southeast Iowa so I was able to work on the Gleaner while keeping up my hog farrowing operation. I had it pretty well together by late January and early February. I put all the chains on it, got it all to turn over and then ran it with the Fordson. Since the tin work still had the original galvanized metal, it did not need to be painted but I spent more time than I would like to admit, painting on the mounting and angle irons with a 3/4' paint brush. I finally cut a stencil and put the Gleaner logo in the appropriate places.

After that, anyone who came around who was interested in old machinery got the grand tour. On Labor Day weekend of 1987, I took it to the Old Threshers Steam Show at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa and had a good time showing it.

Here are some of the specifications I found on the Gleaner Harvester thresher:

Years made; 1925, 1926 (640 made), 1927 (500 made), 1928.

Mounts only Fordson tractors. In 1922 a Fordson cost $395. From 1918-1927 50% of tractors made in USA were Fordsons.

Fordson weight-2700 lb. Approximately 20 HP.

Gleaner weight-2600 lb. (Shipping weight). Cost, approximately $950.

Cylinder rasp 18' wide, 1200 RPM.

Width of cut 8'3'. Separator width 24', length 13', bin capacity 30 bushels. Most of the bearings were ball or roller.

No canvas, no gears, no universal joints, no auxiliary motor. Under normal conditions and average yields, one man can harvest an acre of grain in less than thirty minutes.