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Friday, November 22, 2013

Restored Overby Corn Picker



This mechanical corn picker was designed and built by the Overby brothers, John and Theodore, before any commercial corn picker was available. They had 79 parts cast to their specifications from a foundry in Minneapolis. Drawings and the machine itself is the patent model submitted to the U.S. Patent Office. Their patent application was successful. They must have begun work on it in the 1890s, and trial and error led to many modifications in design. The machine worked as it ran for years picking corn until the metal parts were worn out. But there was never a second machine built. It was pulled by 6 horses to get it to run all the machinery. It only did one row at a time, but was still much faster than picking corn by hand. To see my previous post during restoration just click here. In the comments on this link is a Facebook link to a wealth of photos of what it looked like before and during restoration. 

20 comments:

  1. It would have been considered incredible for its time. I think its wonderful that enthusiasts collect and restore these old beauties for future generations to see.

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  2. So essentially it would squeeze the plant and remove anything solid that was bigger than a stalk? Is that about right? Do modern machines work about the same way?

    Interesting stuff.

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    1. John, if the ear of corn didn't just fall off at the top of the gathering chains, there was a sickle bar with a single knife to cut the ear free of the stalk. Knife runs back and forth powered by a pitman arm which can be seen in the first photo on the top left side of the gathering arm. Contemporary picker-sheller combines still use gathering chains and similar systems to harvest corn.

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    2. So, a little more complicated than I thought... no surprise there!

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  3. To see how the corn picker was moved into the museum in Brookings, SD, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKdblRyqTvA for a short video.

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  4. Wow, only 1 built and it still works? 79 custom parts? That's a challenge in our internet days, let alone back then. Fascinating, thanks for sharing!

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  5. Amazing! I love seeing old machines like this.

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  6. Even more amazing when you realize that this machine sat out in a grove of trees rotting away for one-hundred years before being restored. Most of the wooden parts were gone except for the oak frame. All the wood was replaced during restoration. Yes, it would work if the restorer would allow it. He won't because of worry of something breaking.

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  7. What a wonderful and fascinating history! You find such interesting machines, and this one is truly unique.

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  8. Interesting machine, I think it is hard work to restore it. Especially get or produce spare parts.

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    1. Many of the missing or deteriorated parts were recreated for this restoration. All the wood was replaces. The restoration is as amazing as the original construction.

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  9. Great contribution to the B&W theme!

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  10. lovely. I would love to see this in action!

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  11. A very interesting post, and you always find these special and interesting machines! Works very well in B&W!
    Have a wonderful weekend:)

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  12. I find mechanical stuff amazing--simply because my brain can't grasp it! Great shots.

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