Paul Wheaton's cool thread about threshing wheat got me thinking about antique Allis Chalmers All Crop harvesters.
I think, for anyone wanting to harvest small grain, but can't afford or justify a new $250,000 combine, an AC All Crop might be a perfect fit.
Anyone that I've ever met that has used an All Crop says they were the best harvesting machine they've ever worked with.
These machines are able to harvest even the finest seeds with the right screens.
Just a few weeks ago, I read a thread on another forum, from a fellow Hoosier, that was using an AC All Crop to harvest clover seed. Many farmers still use their All Crops for oats, linseed, and a whole list of stuff I've never even heard of before.
These machines are inexpensive to purchase. It is common to hear that people buy these for $200 or less. I am told that anyone with some mechanical ability can get an All Crop up and running, even if it has sat for 40 years.
I'm not an expert on All Crops, but I do find them very intriguing. I think the possibilities are endless.
I wonder if those antique All Crops don't have a place in today's new world of small, organic, independent homesteaders and farmers.
Even if you sunk $1000 or more into an All Crop to get it up and running perfectly, but it would handle your harvesting needs, and could expand your ability to grow a diverse array of specialty crops, it could be the investment of a lifetime.
For instance, I've been thinking about growing oats. I have access to 10 or more acres that are up for rent. Absolutely no one in our area grows oats. It is corn and soybeans only, with an occasional stand of double cropped wheat. Even if oats were selling for $100 a bushel, I'd have no one in the area that could harvest them. The same goes for linseed/flaxseed. If I wanted to grow linseed, it seems like my only choice would be to find someone with an All Crop in our area.
A harvesting machine like these seems like they would give the small 'out-of-the-box' farmer tremendous control over what they grow, harvested, and sold.
FWIW, the All Crops can run off of the PTO of an old tractor, and some models contained an engine. They came in widths of 40 inches, 60 inches, 66 inches, up to 90 inches.
I bought 2 for $500. One, wasnt working. A year after useing the other, I had to replace the straw walker. I thought , doing it by myself, that was quite a job. Now, I notice I need to replace the canvis guides at least on the outside of the table. I couldnt find a canvis then, so I had one made. Im not to happy at all with the belts they used to make it. I had to remake the pieces around the auger that had rotted out. I bought a hand held tach to get speed guide, but my CC Case, 1934, couldnt get it up to proper speed, so I ran it wide open, and thrashed milo. I had had a MH Clipper combine before, and although I liked it compaired to the AC, although I cant tell you now why. It was way heavier.
I have the attachment for gathering clover, lespedizia , whatever seed from a windrow. I much more would like a combine equipped with an engine. My 1960 Case bailer has its own case engine, And, other than every year fighting the mag and carb, getting it ready, Once its running, Its great.
All of the reading I have done on them tend to give them high accolades.
In 1997 I went to look at two that were being sold at $75 each. That was the first time that I had ever seen on of them as they simply were not around the wide open wheat growing areas of western Kansas.
What surprised me most was the physical size of the machines. Most combines have their largest size along their length from front to back whereas the All Crop is a wide machine in comparison to length.
Having grown up on a farm that stored canvases for our grain binder I was aware of how hard it is to keep mice from doing damage to them. I passed on an All Crop purchase as I would have had to pull one about 20 miles, because of needing canvas replacements, and because some of the sheet metal was rusted out from improper storage.
I instead bought a Gleaner CII self propelled. Would have preferred an A but the CII was in excellent condition and at a good price.
Now if I could just get a hold of one of the modern pull type combines the Amish use in my area----
Uh, save your money, folks. Yes, they are fascinating machines, and do the job of threshing all kinds of grain, can be run with a tractor with a PTO, etc, etc, but:
Changeover time to convert concave to different grain--about four hours. Each cylinder bar has 4, maybe 5 bolts and nuts, with fine acme threads. You have to get up into the box and sit crossed-legged(with WD-40) to screw, unscrew the cylinder bars. Different grains call for different numbers, and spacing of up to eight(been a long time) cylinder bars.
Running a rock thru the cylinder means big, big bucks. The cylinder spins at speeds over a thousand rpm, so you can just imagine. (It was a fun sound, though--and only on the A-C--whenever a milkweed ran through)
Thrashing efficiency is governed by spacing of the concave bar as opposed to the spinning cylinder and its speed. Has to be adjusted frequently for grain conditions or you will lose them out the back end in tailings, or cracked grain.
Grain seives had to be interchanged for different grains. Big flat panel screens--doubtful if you could find a full set today.
You had to have a special knowhow to twist the back belt to go around the pulleys. (This is the twenty-five foot one.)
Cross auger and grain lift auger had to be cleaned out between grains, and after rain(swollen grain)
A million zerks.
Belt costs and adjustments to track right.
Most were operated without live PTO, so the machine had to be backed up and given a full power start to get it up to threshing speed if you had been shut down for any reason. Otherwise you lost unthrashed grain out the back end.
Sickle bar cutter--doubt if TSC would have sections and fingers today.
Just my humble opinion--not worth the money and headache for small homesteading operations today.
Won't somebody, please, invent a safe, working small model? Think outside the box, but not inside the bucket.....
Most years I harvest grass seed to use on my pastures with my old All Crop. One was bought for a few hundred and another was given to me for parts. Prior to owning these I had a JD and a IH. The IH was a rotary. It did take some adjusting by me to get use to the change. The All Crop does a good job on small seed. geo in mi Obviously you have never changed a set of "elephant ears" in a rotary combine or some of the inaccessible bearings in some of the JD's. The greasing of the A-- C-- can take a lot of time with all the zerks but I have never had to change a bearing on this machine. I had to keep an inventory with the JD and its sealed non lube bearings
The last model The 90 was a great machine, auger header, would harvest anything. All crops. I went from beans to wheat to oats to Barley to lotus, alfalfa, you name it, it would harvest it. Cut with a #5 JD mower with bar mounted swather and used a pickup attachment. Great machines. Took a while to set up but what other machine then and know will do them all as good as an allcrop?...James
Dad had two combines that I remember, first was some old IHC/McCormick thing with canvas. Dad got so tired of the canvas. He finally got a JD30. No canvas. I do remember the gear box went out on it and I was with him hitting all the dealers that had used equipment way out back on their lot that they would sell parts off of. He got a gearbox off a JD25 for $25 (we had to remove it) and was back in buisiness. He could have bought the whole combine for same money, but it was too far from home to drag it. This was in 60s when the pull type combines were dieing out and were basically considered scrap.
No idea how well it did with small seed like clover and such. Dad mainly used it for oats and soy. Sure was a treat not to have to deal with that canvas.
"What would you do with a brain if you had one?" -Dorothy
"Well, then ignore what I have to say and go with what works for you." -Eliot Coleman
I went by a John Deer dealer in Damascus AR the other day and saw a 95 John
Deer combine sitting their that was used to harvest clover seed. It will harvest most anything. Just because the AC was used doesn't mean that other manufactures were not able to do the work.
God must have loved stupid people because he made so many of them.
Getting that canvis on and not getting your knuckles barked, means your blood must be orange. The one that didnt work had a 6 bat reel, while the good one had a 4, so I switched them out. That made a good bit of difference. I couldnt raise it high enough to just get the heads, so I had to go slower with milo as so much stalk was going through it. The drawbar on a CC Case, sets lower than a WD. Dont remember, if that was the deal or not. I havnt used it in 20yrs, as I dont plant milo anymore, as theres weed seed that is the same size and shape as milo seed, and it gets into the seed and u will plant it. I dont want to do that. Im wanting now to go back to oats, as dad said that cows would eat oat straw like it was candy, So, Besides the grain, the straw has a use also.
I can't hardly believe it. I was sure that I had completely and utterly wasted my time posting about All Crop harvesters.
I am stunned that you all have had experiences with the All Crops, and our very own Agmantoo still operates one.
A few additional thoughts:
I'm sure there are lots of different models like Deere, International, etc., that would work well for someone. I'm just familiar with the All Crops. I sometimes hang out on http://allischalmers.com , and read lots of posts about the All Crops.
One advantage of the All Crop is that at least one guy makes some parts for them, but there are hundreds of guys that know how to work on them and give you advice on how to run them.
I've read that Allis Chalmers built around 300,000 All Crop models. Even if you bought two or three in order to build one, you'd automatically have extra parts if the others failed.
Let me be clear...I agree with everyone about these machines.
These harvesters are not for everyone. They aren't for the guy who wants to get rich growing 5 acres of soy beans and 1 acre of wheat.
Then again, for the right person, the old All Crops do give people new opportunity. Let's say there is a guy that wants to grow and retail a variety of heirloom wheat. Or let's pretend that someone wants to grow a special organic wheat, and then grind it into flour for retail sale.
Or someone with an idea about growing a specialty crop and selling it retail or to a higher priced market.
The All Crop could be the answer. It would allow someone to to till, plant, grow, harvest and then process, (given the right equipment), without the product ever leaving the farm.
I don't pretend for a minute that an All Crop would be great for the guy growing 4 acres of wheat to sell at current commodity prices. The numbers probably wouldn't work, but it would be fun trying.
As well, an All Crop or other brand is for the person that knows how to work on the equipment, and has the right attitude about keeping on one the farm. This is the person that doesn't mind working to find the right parts, the right set up, etc. This isn't for the person that says "Hey look at what we just pulled out of the fence row!!! We're going to be rich in the combine business!!!!"
One final advantage that comes to mind is size...yes they are wide, but not nearly as wide as a late model combine. For those with small or more land locked acreage, an All Crop might squeeze into some of those spots more easily.
Thanks for the input so far. I've already learned a BUNCH from you guys on this thread.
I'd never even heard of this machine, must have been a classic in it's time!
I have an old IHC 403 that still works pretty darn well but a neighbour was selling his MF750 for three grand, couldn't turn that down but I still love driving the old 403. Something about that old machinery!
Finding that person who has the knowlege to work on one and keep it adjusted might be your problem, unless you are willing to suffer through a few harvests yourself. After spraying the box thoroughly with Raid and waiting a couple of days, I could probably climb in to change the bar setup, but the EMT's would have to come and get me out.
There were color wars with combines, as much as there were with tractors. You had your A-C men, your International men, John Deere men, Massey Harris, etc. Each swore his was the best.
I still believe there is a need for a small, simplified harvestor for the homestead operations of maybe one to five acres. The pull-type combines were most useful for the diversied family farm of the fifties and sixties with maybe twenty to eighty acres of grain to harvest during the year. The changeover and adjustment time time was justified by those machines that allowed the farmer to keep a machine for his own use, and not have to find a threshing crew to come when his crop was ripe. Today's homesteads might use a machine for one to five acres a year for food grade wheat, clover seeds, dry beans, and such.
I think this need would be a ripe area for a serious inventor. But not chains on an electric drill, or a chipper/shredder. Maybe D-R?
I've owned a couple AC 60 combines, they have a 60 inch cut. I have a AC 90 that is the largest of that type, pull behind a tractor. I also own two rare self propelled AC 100 combines. Basicly the same design as the All Crop combines, but self propelled. AC only made them a few years and then produced the Gleaner designed by the Baldwin Brothers, a completely different design.
All Crop harvestors have rubber coated beater bars that thresh without breaking the seeds.