History of the Binder

In this addition of my blog I will be talking about the binder and knotting mechanism. The binder is a later improved version of the reaper. The reaper was an implement that just cut the crop, rather than combining it with the processes of cutting and tying it into sheaves.

Picture 1 - Binder

The binder was invented in 1872 by Charles Withington. The binder cuts the cereal crop a couple of inches of the floor and ties the cut crop into sheaves. These sheaves are then ‘stooked’ in the field, resembling tipis, by the farm labourers who are following behind the machine. The stooks were then left to ripen out in the field before they were carted in.

Picture 2 - Carting Corn

The original binders used wire to tie the sheaves, but this gave various problems during operation and also when it came to harvest, so, William Deering then invented a binder that used a twine knotter that was invented by John Appleby.

The knotter is a bit like the sowing machine: the machine pushes a needle in and pulls loops in nanoseconds as it passes by. In the same way, the knotter on the binder loops the twine around the cut crop onto the knotter beak, which then opens and grabs the twine as a knife cuts it to length. The beak then turns to tie the knot and releases once it has done its rotation. This all happens in the space of a second. Below is a picture of the knot the knotter mechanism produces.

Picture 3 - Tied knot

The knotter mechanism revolutionised agriculture and the same mechanism is still used today. There have been variations on the knotter, for example, August Claas adapted the knotter with a limited floating beak. It was then patented in 1921 and is still used in their bailers to this present day. Below is a picture of the CLAAS logo on one of their combines. You can see the knotter needle and beak is used as part of the company branding.

Picture 4 - Claas Logo

Ben Preston – Heritage Farming Apprentice


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