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Agriculture and food
Sunshine header harvester
machine that can harvest storm-damaged crops

No matter how good a product is, someone will always go one better one day, that's how innovation works. Hugh McKay invented the stripper harvester in the 1880s, but it had trouble picking up grain crops that had been beaten down by wind or rain.

To solve the problem Headlie Taylor of Henty, NSW, came up with the header harvester in 1914. Although poorly educated, Taylor used books and common sense to devise his machine. He built the harvester himself with the help of Ralph Garth and demonstrated it in 1914 at the Henty Show. He said that, ?the new machine was the centre of attraction at the show and excited considerable comment among visiting farmers.?

The header harvester was superior in that it could 'lift' the heads of damaged crops and collect grain that would otherwise be lost. It was also more efficient, cutting the wheat heads rather than beating or pulling them off.

The new technology was more reliable and compact than the aging stripper harvester which it soon replaced on the massive assembly lines of McKay's works in Sunshine, Victoria. Taylor?s header harvester had an enormous economic value for Australia. Its huge harvesting capacity aided the trend of bulk handling of wheat in Australia.

Who Did It?
Key Organisations
McKay Harvesting and Machinery Co: design, manufacture
Key People
Headley Taylor : inventor
Hugh McKay : manufacturer
Ralph Garth : assisted Taylor

Further Reading
Old farm machinery in Australia
M & P Simpson
Kangaroo Press, Kenthurst, 1988, pp 65-67.

Sunshine Harvester Works
Technology in Australia 1788-1988. ATSE

The harvester comb could be raised or lowered to cut storm damaged crops. Powerhouse Museum. Photo Sue Stafford.
ATSE Powerhouse Museum