Over the last couple of months, we have been hearing from several different folks who used Minneapolis-Moline (MM) and then later New Idea Uni-Harvest systems. This ongoing discussion began when I mentioned in a column back in January my wife's grandpa had an New Idea Uni-System on his eastern Nebraska farm. I also asked if anyone had much experience with these vintage machines.
I had many responses which has provided us with some very interesting stories on the experiences of those who used these curious harvesting machines.
After several months of stories from people who used this equipment, this month we have a letter from someone whose father worked for New Idea and actually helped build the systems. Here is the letter:
Robert C. Evans joined New Idea Farm Equipment Company in 1955 in the engineering department. He helped them develop a field corn sheller and other machinery. In addition, he also improved their successful corn picker line and hay equipment.
He had come from the International Harvester research and development group. At that time the New Idea president was Curry Stoup and the vice president was Russ Raney.
New Idea was selling 2-row tractor-mounted pickers with husking bed and sheller attachments. Engineering continued to improve the tractor mounted cage sheller.
Robert developed a cylinder type sheller attachment similar to a combine cylinder. Because of the equipment being manufactured, engineering became very interested in the Uni-System, which was trademarked by New Idea and was being manufactured by MM. This design was a self-propelled unit having corn harvesting attachments.
In the early 1960s, Robert was on the original team to buy the Uni-System from MM. Robert was moved from engineering to project manager to develop other attachments. These included a corn picker, corn cylinder sheller, forage harvester, grain combine, mower and corn planter.
The air planter is a story itself. It was later sold to International Harvester and this design set a trend for planting corn.
Russ, do you have any other New Idea information that might be important? Dad is very interested.
Char Evans Deck
A big thanks goes out to both Char and Robert for taking the time to write me this letter. I don't get many vintage iron letter from the Sunshine State.
Just imagine the stories Robert could tell about this time in the farm equipment business. As farms were growing in size and farm equipment was growing larger it would have been fascinating to see the changes manufacturers were going through at the time.
If you have anything to add to the MM/New Idea Uni-Harvester system discussion or anything to do with vintage iron please contact me. firstname.lastname@example.org
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