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Is this the world's first self propelled combine
It may never be known for certain who built the world's first self-propelled combine, but Iowa inventor Edward Hindahl made a strong claim for the honor with a combine he built in 1934.
Hindahl, who farmed near Mason City, passed away in 1983 but his daughters, Edna Jones and Melanie Gordon, sent FARM SHOW the following account of Hindahl's machine.
Hindahl, born in 1897, was always modifying new machines and building new ones out of old parts. Neighboring farmers considered him a genius mechanic who could solve just about any problem. He was never interested in patenting his ideas or "striking it rich" commercially.
In 1934 Hindahl set out to build the first-ever self-propelled combine by modifying a 1930 Gleaner Baldwin combine built in Independence, Mo. He bought the used machine for -$600 (it sold originally for $1,600).
In a 1966 newspaper report, Hindahl told a reporter that he had three goals in mind in building the combine. The first was saving grain when opening up fields. Pull type combines resulted in grain loss on most fields.
His second goal was improved maneuverability. The machine steered like a skid steer loader with separate drives to each side, allowing him to make square corners and turn around in its tracks, which again saved grain.
The third goal was getting the cutterbar closer to the ground. The self-propelled machine provided more precise control and better visibility of cutterbar so he could lower it down.
"Hindahl used a Gleaner Baldwin 12-ft. pull-type combine with a Model A Ford motor. Another Model A motor was used to propell it. Two Model TFord transmissions were rebuilt into a single unit using the two clutches and brakes for steering, controlled by a single wooden stick lever. The specially-made drive wheels were 2 ft. wide in order to reduce compaction. Everything else on the machine was put together from various motors, chains, and other parts.
Hindahl said the difference between his machine and self-propelled models which were introduced by manufacturers a few years later w that they basically used a regular tractor to power their machines while he built a power unit from the ground up, specially designed to power a combine.
Engineers from major manufacturers visited Hindahl to see his machine and consult with Hindahl, who- was only too happy to give them his advice on building a production machine. He used the combine himself from 1934 through 1953, before he retired it. The last appearance it made was at a Centennial Parade in Mason City in 1957.
Hindahl's daughters also have several of Hindahl's tractors, including two 1920 Moline Universals, a 1936 Case, an old Twin City tractor, and an antique Caterpillar. None are in operating condition. Edna Jones says they would like to sell them.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Edna Jones, Rt. 2, Box 34, Mason City, Ill. 62664 (ph 217 482-5945 or 3711).

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1990 - Volume #14, Issue #6