Glenford, Ohio 43739
Some time back I was searching through my large collection of agricultural implement catalogs and folders for a friend who was restoring an old tractor and needed colors for reference. In the search I came across the catalog of the Adams Company. It has been in my possession since 1914 and one of the things of interest to me was the two-roll corn husker. At that time, I had hoped to persuade my father to buy one.
The power required for the two-roll Adams machine is listed in the catalog as 6 HP. Our 4 HP Associated engine ran an 8-inch feed grinder very well and the Adams agent said it could handle the husker, but maybe not to full capacity. Well, I was never able to talk dad into buying the husker although the agent did sell two or three in this area.
Those who have husked corn by hand out of the shock know that it is a time consuming, back-breaking job. It merits a few words about corn harvest in our community. No one cut corn before the first of August as it was said it would spoil; but harvest was begun on the first of September, weather permitting. First, the corn was cut and placed in shocks, ten or so acres taking twenty days or more. When the corn was thus cut and shocked, the ground between the rows was disced in preparation for sowing wheat. Often, the discing was completed prior to the fly-free date for sowing wheat (October 10th, most years) and some corn husking was done immediately after the discing.
After taking two or three days to get the wheat into the ground, the corn husking began in earnest. Two shocks were husked and the ears thrown into one pile between them. The fodder from four corn shocks was made into one fodder shock. Fodder was valued for livestock feed over the winter and was hauled to a convenient location for winter use. The corn hauling was carried on if the corn got too dry for easy husking.
The ears of corn piled at two shock intervals were picked up by hand and pitched into the high-sided wagon. At the corn crib they were then shoveled off by hand, another back-breaking task. When both the piles of ears and the shocks of fodder were removed from the field, a strip remained across the field where each row of shocks stood and the space between these strips had been drilled with wheat. When the weather and husking progress permitted, we often disced the narrow space where the row of shocks had stood and drilled this area with oats for horse feed.
So you can see that corn husking lasted over a long period of time. If your corn was husked by Thanksgiving time, you had done well. This was my motive for the purchase of the Adams corn husker. Later on, in the 1920s when tractors became more plentiful, there were five corn husking outfits in our area. We no longer needed a husker of our own. The use of a large husker powered by a gasoline traction engine enabled us to have the corn in the crib and fodder blown into the barn well before Thanksgiving. The men in our area, who had formerly made extra money by cutting corn by the shock and hand husking it by the bushel, were now employed by work in feeding the larger machines.
One part of the Adams catalog dealt with the Adams traction gear. Many of the commercially made tractors of the time were of rather large size and were expensive. They really had no place on the small farm of 100 acres or less. The Adams Company had the answer. They said that if you had a stationary gas engine, put it on our traction gear and be in business! Their gear was made in two sizes, the No. 1 suitable for engines of 8 HP or less and the No. 2 for engines up to 16 HP. The specifications for these gears were:
No. 1 Gear:
Rear wheels 36 x 9', steel cleated. Front wheels 28 x 4', steel. Frame, 5' steel I beam. Platform, 3x5' for engine.
No. 2 Gear:
Rear wheels 50 x 12', steel cleated. Front wheels 32 x 8', steel. Frame, 6' steel I beam. Platform, 3x6' for engine.
A photograph in the Adams catalog shows one rather large size 16 HP engine mounted on the No. 2 traction gear. There was not much room left for the driver! Several of the photographs show an upright screen cooled engine which leads me to believe the two cylinder Cushman engine was popular for the application. Alan King's Volume 2, page 29, of Gas Engines lists such a two cylinder Cushman.
Other companies made traction gears similar to the Adams, permitting the small farmer to have a small, inexpensive tractor. The P. E. Shirk Company of Blue Falls, Pennsylvania made a gear for 4 to 15 HP engines. The Victor was made at Loudonville, Ohio. (See pages 27 and 30 of 'The Agricultural Tractor 1855-1950'.)
The Adams gear was listed as made in 1910. I have yet to see one of these at any gas engine show. Other items listed in the Adams catalog include farm wagons, engine trucks for the largest to the smallest grain elevator or blower, and four types of saw frames. There is also a price list card loose in the catalog giving the price of the two-roll husker at $198 and the four-roll husker at $298, although the latter is not shown in the catalog. It also lists the grain elevator or blower at $50 and the saw frame at $20. Blades for the latter were $5 for the 26-inch diameter and $7 for the 30-inch.
A verse on the back of the dealer's business card describes the advantage of the small gas tractor:
'The tractor on the farm arose before the dawn at
It drove up the cows and washed the clothes and finished every chore.
Then forth it went into the field just at the break of day,
It reaped and threshed the golden yield and hauled it all away.
It plowed the field that afternoon and when the job was through,
It hummed a pleasant little tune and churned the butter, too.
and pumped the water for the stock and ground a crib of corn
and hauled the baby around the block to still it's cry forlorn.
Thus ran the busy hours away, by many labors blest,
and yet when fell the twilight gray, the tractor had no rest,
for while the farmer peaceful eyed, read by the tungsten's glow,
the patient tractor stood outside and ran the dynamo!