Smith's "Cannon" Corn Sheller
F.N. Smith, of Kinderhook, New York, patented this sheller in 1843. While several hand cranked picker wheel shellers already existed, this was the first successful power sheller. It could be powered by a horse treadmill or steam or water power. In 1844, Smith claimed in the American Agriculturist, that the machine could shell 300 bushels per hour. Thirteen years later, The Annual Register of Rural Affairs reported that Smith's "Cannon" corn sheller was considered the best for shelling corn on a large scale, in the Western states, where Indian corn is grown in large quantities. They claimed Smith's sheller could shell 200 bushels per hour, using a two horse power.
This is the first cannon sheller (named for its shape) that I have found which still retains its removable cast iron hopper. The 5 ft long wooden cylinder is clad in iron and has helical rows of teeth which press the ears against the iron concave at the top of the cylinder. This concave is part of the two piece iron body of the sheller. The cobs work their way down the length of the sheller and exit the far end while the shelled corn drops out the open bottom along the entire length. The cylinder was operated at approximately 800 rpm for best results. Power was usually supplied by a horse treadmill, since there were few steam engines on 1840's and 50's American farms. When the sheller was used in a grain mill, water power was available.
The sheller comes from York county, Pennsylvania, and faint lettering on the iron appears to read "H.L. Nehman, York". The only maker of the Smith sheller in York known to me is the Pennsylvania Agricultural Works, later to become A.B. Farquhar Co. Farquhar made Smith shellers for several decades.
Much of the metal cladding and teeth are missing from the far end of the cylinder. Smith claims, in an 1845 letter to the American Agriculturist, that care must be taken to replace worn teeth or the metal covering the cylinder is cetain to fail. This appears to be a case in point, however, most of the covering and teeth are intact on the front half of the cylinder. The wooden cylinder and frame appear to be in very good condition. The original salmon colored milk paint is still present on the wood frame. The removable cast iron hopper has been broken and spot welded. Otherwise, the sheller is in very good condition.
Quarter view of right side, showing pulley and hopper.
closeup of lettering appears to read "H.L. Nehman, York. The center line is unreadable, but may be "Foundry"
Article on Francis Smith's corn sheller
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