Collection Storage Facility
Purchase in 1970
The Peerless Separator was manufactured by L. D. Sawyer & Company of Hamilton, Ontario. The company produced reapers, mowers, separators, horse powers, and beginning in the early 1880s. In 1889, the Massey Company acquired an interest in the firm and it was renamed the Sawyer & Massey Company. In 1910, the company divested its holding and the company then became known as the Sawyer-Massey Company. Sawyer-Massey continued to produce threshers and steam traction engines, and later added gasoline-powered tractors to its line.
Threshing machines separate grain from the harvested plant, which is reduced to straw and chaff. The first threshing machines were stationary: powered by hand or treadmill, they increased the amount of grain a farmer could separate in a day. Wheeled threshing machines began to replace stationary threshers in the 1860s and further mechanized grain harvesting. Threshers were initially built of wood and powered by horse-powered windlasses; they were later built of steel and powered by steam traction engines and gas tractors. Threshers were in turn replaced through the twentieth century by combine harvesters, which merged harvesting and threshing operations in one machine.
The Peerless Separator was first introduced in 1887. It featured new grain separating technology, which used vibrating decks to separate grain from straw. This later model also features a self-feeder, technology that was introduced in the 1890s. Self-feeders automatically cut tied grain bundles and fed them into the thresher at a steady rate. They also allowed a greater volume of grain to be threshed in the machine. The Peerless Separator represents the trend in late nineteenth century threshers to further automation in grain separation. It also represents the consolidation of Canadian agricultural equipment manufacturing in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.