Thursday 31 October 2013

Keep Yew a Troshin Bor.

Now for something completely different.
A few weeks ago I visited the Skeyton "Trosh".  A Trosh, for the uninitiated, is an event that celebrates our farming heritage.  Congregating in a large stubble field was a wonderful assortment of  old farm equipment.   Among the equipment and machinery assembled were several traction engines, and tractors from the era of the land army girls.  The machine that aroused my interest was a Ransomes Threshing machine.

The Thresher arrived by road behind a Fowler traction engine, these combinations would have been a common sight just after the second world war, today they are as rare as hens teeth.   Once in the field the Thresher was carefully levelled, I imagine this was to make sure the driving belts did not slip off the rollers when the operation started.

The Thresher was levelled
  With a deep throaty pulse the Fowler engine edged forward to align its flywheel with the Thresher's driving belt which had been laid out on the ground.  After some serious pushing and pulling the driving belt encompassed the Fowler's flywheel and the machine was ready to go to work.

Fitting the Driving Belt
 Andrew Meikle developed the first Threshing engine in the later years of the eighteenth century.  Meikle was a Scottish millwright and a talented mechanical engineer, he also invented  louvred sails for windmills.  Up until then sails were made of canvas, like the sails on a ship, but in stormy weather mills often caught fire due to friction.  In bad weather the louvred sails could be opened or closed by levers allowing the wind to pass through them.

Back at the Skeyton trosh a more modern example of Meikle's genius, the Ransomes thresher, came to life.  Through a series of driving belts powered by the Fowler engine shoves (sheaves) of wheat were fed into the hopper on top of the the thresher.  The actual machine has a mesmerising quality as it quite literally shakes, rocks and rolls sending grain out of one end and straw out of the other.  The air was thick with smoke from the Fowler and the unmistakable smell of warm oil and burning coal that only steam engines can produce.
The Thresher Came To Life

For the farm workers who had to work these machines in the harvest fields for probably fourteen hours or longer it would not have seemed so appealing.  But for a large slice of farming nostalgia a Thresher takes some beating.

 To see a short video of the Thresher use the link below.