An English Thresher in South Canterbury

Traction engines were first manufactured in the 1860s and were produced up to about 1925. There are only about 100-110 operational engines left in New Zealand, and another 130 in parts or awaiting restoration. Because of their heritage value, the New Zealand Antiquities Act bans their sale overseas. Keeping the furnaces stoked and the water tank filled are vital. The engine is fired up before a journey and while on the road two people are required on board. While one steers, the other shovels coal or wood into the furnace through a hole in the cab floor. About every 20km, the 300 gallon (1360 litre) tank must be refilled with water, a process which involves pulling up beside a creek and using the on-board hose.

Photo taken by Maureen at the Waimate A & P Show in 2006
Garrett traction engine - there are only handful these in New Zealand with one in the Waimate district. The owner also has a Garrett Mill which makes this most unique in world. Russell Powell's Garrett traction engine with the Garrett Mill which he got from North Otago and his hut now days is known as a Whare but in the working day in Waimate district they were called huts. The traction engine is a Garrett is 7nhp traction engine of 1911 #29773 owned by Russell Powell of Waimate. The photo was taken at Southern Canterbury A&P Show on Saturday 24th November 2012 in Waimate.  

Ellesmere Guardian, 17 March 1931, Page 4 AN ENGLISH THRESHER
A good deal of interest is being manifested by farmers and others interested in grain threshing in an English steel mill working to-day on the Canterbury Seed Company's farm at Leeston. Although mills of the same type, and turned out by the same firm, have been in use in other parts of the world for several years, the one now threshing in this district is the first of its kind to be imported into New Zealand. Built by the famous firm of Richard Garrett and Sons, of Leiston, Suffolk, which, by the way, forms one of the units of Agricultural and General Engineers, Ltd., the largest combination of general engineers 'in the Old Country, the new mill, which is known as the Garrett, constitutes a strong challenge to the machines marketed in New Zealand by American manufacturers. Characteristic of British manufactures, it is sturdily built throughout and embodies all the best features of British engineering practice, and impresses the observer as a machine likely to give good service for many years. Even the travelling wheels resemble more closely those fitted to the front of a traction engine than the kind usually seen on farmers' threshers.
    All except the very slow travelling shafts are fitted with ball-bearings, which mean smooth and easy running, as well as less wear. The thresher has a particularly strong type of feeder and a 28-inch drum,-which takes the sheaves as fast as any ordinary man cares to place them on the feeder. Threshing from a stack early this morning, before the stooks were fit, the mill was putting the barley through at the rate of 200 bushels an hour, proving that no fault could be found with its capacity to deal rapidly with grain in a condition fit for threshing. One outstanding feature is the unusually large capacity of the riddles and cleaning equipment generally. In a heavy crop this is a most important consideration. Another good feature is an attachment which gathers up any stray unthreshed heads or odd grains and returns them either to the drum or to the riddles. This, of course, means a considerable saving of grain, even in a day's threshing. No fault could be found with the sample the machine was turning out. So well balanced is the thresher that although the wheels were not chocked there was practically no vibration. Power to drive the outfit was supplied by a model L Case tractor, which could probably have managed nearly twice the load.
    Like the small American mills, the Garrett is fitted with a wind stacker, to which the automatic oscillating gear can be attached if desired. Very few farmers, however, wish to use it, and where price is an important consideration, unnecessary gear is naturally not supplied as regular equipment. Incidentally, the price fixed for the Garrett is competitive. The mill has not yet been made which will not allow an occasional grain or two of wheat or barley to go into the straw stack. The quantity lost in this way is determined very largely by the condition of the crop when threshing takes place. The straw discharged by the Garrett stacker was found to contain an exceedingly, small proportion of grain, and that very pinched, and only fit for stock food. It is interesting to note that Messrs Richard Garrett and Sons were the pioneer builders of threshers, the first machines being turned out nearly 200 years ago. Some of their larger wooden mills have given good service in Canterbury during the last 50 years. Mr Wallis, representative of the firm, who is in charge of the mill at Leeston, has not been in New Zealand very long. For a period of 20 years he was a machinery representative in South America. Some of the Garrett mills have been in use there for several seasons, They have given very good service. He also states that the grain crops there have about the same bulk as those he has seen in the Ellesmere district—if anything, they would be a trifle heavier. The mill will be working at Leeston for the next week or so.  

Richard Garrett & Sons, Ltd., Leiston, Works.  James Macalsiter LTD., Invercargill
From 1891 to the early 1900s Mr James Macalister of Invercargill was the sole New Zealand agent for Messrs Richard Garrett and Sons, Leiston, Suffolk, England.

Southland Times 13 December 1905, Page 4
He introduced machinery which people were only beginning to hear about : he laid in stocks where others were selling on commission, and secured some big agencies. For some of his largest lines Mr Macalister holds the agency for New Zealand, and in this respect he has done much for the town and district by making Invercargill the head-quarters for the colony the importing and distributing centre. One striking instance is evidenced by the Richard Garrett and Sons engines and threshing machines. The 8 hp single cylinder special traction engine, fitted with 7ft road wheels has a side winding drum. Designed to pull a drain plough and a wire rope close to a quarter of a mile long. There is also a forward winding drum with 75 yards of rope. and among improvements are a patent automatic press-feed lubricator, high speed governors and water lift and the extra strong boiler is fitted with Garrett's patent fire-box crown for a working pressure of 160lb. Garrett and Sons are world-renowned.
    The Mammouth Threshing Machine, treble blast, fitted with Garrett's patent self feeder, steel drum with reversible beaters, extra long shakers, large __ddles and exhaust fan.

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Otago & Southland Provincial Districts]
Invercargill Foundry (James Macalister, proprietor), Dee Street, Invercargill. This foundry contains a moulding department and an engineering shop, where there is a large plant, including three forges, shearing, and boring machines, and every appliance needed in an effective manufacturing trade. Mr. James Macalister, proprietor of the Invercargill Foundry, was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1869. At the age of ten he landed at the Bluff with his father's family, by the ship “Peter Denny.” He served an apprenticeship in Invercargill, and gained experience in Melbourne at the time of the exhibition in 1888. On returning to Invercargill, he commenced business in Leven Street, and three years later he sold out to Mr. Walter Guthrie, and the business became the nucleus of the Southland Implement and Engineering Company. Of this well-known company, Mr. Macalister became manager, and held the position for ten years. In 1900 he resigned, and put in a tender for the construction of 500 railway waggons. Though he was the lowest tenderer, Mr. Macalister received an order for only 100 waggons. He then took the Invercargill Foundry, and completed the order within twelve months. Finding the premises insufficient, he secured a site and built his present premises in Dee Street and Leven Street. Mr. Macalister is the inventor and patentee of a colonial drill and other machines. He maintains a stock of farming implements, as agent for several manufacturing firms. Mr. Macalister was married, in 1897, to Miss Tindall, M.A., of Willowbank, Sydenbam, Christchurch, who was a teacher at the Christchurch Girls' High School.

Bruce Herald, 5 June 1867, Page 7 CONDITION of BRITISH AGRICULTURE - Education
Education for our laborers will dispel the clumsy and costly ignorance which too often obstructs agricultural progress, and the rising race of farmers will have educational opportunities, which were denied to their forefathers. Thanks to my dear departed friend Richard Garrett, and many other good and wise men, the Suffolk Middle Class College will do wonders for the farmers of Suffolk; 300 boys, well fed, lodged, and educated for £25 per annum, is, indeed, a boon, socially and nationally for that example will, soon be followed. But education has no value if it is not used. I too often see youths return to their farm from a good school, and find at home nothing to read, except, perhaps, the local weekly paper. Their learning becomes rusty for want of use, for it is painfully true that an agricultural library is rarely to be found in the house of the British farmer.
    Ignorance is not bliss, even in agriculture and I am pleased to see that the old cuckoo cry against book farming is gradually, though slowly, dying out. What can be more advantageous to agriculturists' progress than that they should meet on "paper," and there detail to each other the profitable or unprofitable results of their various experiments. The great secret of American progress is the general or rather universal use of education by the people. The mere reading of what is going on in other countries would enlighten our minds, stimulate our progress, and in some respects correct any over estimate we may have formed of ourselves and of our doings.

 Here is an old photo for all those who have stopped in Kingston, Central Otago to visit the public toilets. This is right across the road. Photos over fifty years apart.

Taken by E.B. Do not copy.

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project