Straw-Cutter, or Chaff-cutter, as it is commonly termed, denotes a machine for the purpose of cutting straw, with a view to feed horses and cattle to greater advantage.

In the year l797, the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, etc. conferred a reward of 30 guineas on Mr. Robert Salmon, for his improved machine for cutting straw, of which we have given an engraving.

Fig. 1, A, A, are two knives, fixed on the inside of the fellies of two wheels B, B, which are firmly connected; the edges of such knives being at an angle of about 45 degrees from the plane of the wheels' motion. Farther, these knives are directed in such manner, that they are acted upon by the springs C, C; the latter being so adjusted, as to give them the requisite degree of pressure against the box for cutting the straw: to prevent them from coming too forward, and thus occasioning an unnecessary friction, wedges are placed under the staples a, a, which must be drawn out as the knives wear, so as to facilitate their progress ; a contrivance, by which new knives may occasionally be substituted, as they will always be duly regulated by the. springs.

D, is a round wooden block, fixed to one side of the wheel, having four holes, and a moveable screw : to this block is attached, by means of screws, one end of the feeding-arm E, which runs in a di-rection nearly horizontal to the cross-bar F, at the end of the box G. Such end is fixed to the crossbar, by the pin b, which may be shifted to five different holes in F : so that, by means of these, and of the four holes in the block D, twenty changes may be obtained in the length of the chaff.

The straw is brought forward by two rollers in the box G, delineated in Fig. 2, which are turned from the outside by the ratch-wheels H, (one being on each side of the box), and move with greater or less ve-locity, accordingly as the stroke is given to the cross-bar by the feeding-arm and wheel. Thus, when the knife cuts, the straw remains at rest; and, on removing the pin from the cross-bar, the supply immediately ceases ; though the motion of the knives may continue.

I, is a pressing weight, suspended beneath the box, which may be rendered more or less powerful, by shifting it on the bearer K, whence it depends : such weight may also be inclined to either side, according to circumstances; and will contribute to force the straw towards the knife, while it counterbalances the ratch-wheel of the upper roller. Near the fulcrum of this bearer is fastened a chain, represented by the dotted line c; the upper end of which is connected with a roller, having at each extremity a small iron bar, that is joined to the end of the upper-spiked roller; so that the straw is uniformly pressed between the two cylinders.

Straw Cutter 8Straw Cutter 9

L, is a winch, serving to turn the machine.

M, M, M, M, the frame of the implement.

Fig. 2, represents the two rollers above alluded to, in describing the box G.

With a view to employ this straw-cutter to the best advantage, its inventor proposes to place a second box at the end of the first: it may be made of any length, and suspended by a line and counterweight ; by means of which its end is brought down level, while it is filling with straw; then drawn up, so as to give the second box a declivity; and thus the straw is more expeditiously brought forward. The chief improvement of this additional apparatus is, the facility with which straw may be cut, while considerable time is saved ; as it will not become necessary to stop at intervals, in older to supply the machine.

In February, 1801, Mr. William Lester, of Hardingstone, Northampton, obtained a privilege for his ingenious contrivance of cutting straw, hay, tobacco, etc. by an engine, to which we have alluded under the article Hay; but, not having been able to procure a satisfactory account of his patent, we shall only remark, that the best proof of its merit, is the general adoption, which we understand it has experienced in Northampton and its vicinity.

The latest invention for this useful purpose, is the Straw-cutter employed by Count de Riesch ; of which we have been induced to give an engraved sketch; on account of the extensive advantages it promises to afford to the proprietors of cattle, by diminishing human labour.

Description of Count Riesch's newly-invented Straw-cutter.

Fig. 1, represents a front view of the machine.

A, the balance, being fastened, at the upper end of the cylinder Q, is directed and put in motion by one person: with this view, there is a pivot, P, applied to that cylinder (which pivot is explained in fig. 10, and likewise appears in Fig. 2, at K, in a socket, L), which is managed by a handle in the piece of timber, at the lower part of the balance b, b.

B, B, are the levers which, by the action of the balance A, are alternately raised, so that the knives C, C, cut the supply of straw in d, d, subsequent to the motion of the arms Z, Z; which are connected with such levers and knives.

C, C, the knives.

D, D, the legs of the boxes : - d, d, represent the projecting straw submitted to the operation.

E, E, the upper parts of the legs before alluded to, terminating, and secured, at the top ; in order that the boxes may not be moved or dislodged by the motion of the engine. At f, f, the two places are visible, through which the moveable arms, Fig. 2, M, M, are inserted.

F, F, the beams, which are secured both above and below, and in which the knives are moved by small rollers, as described Fig. 9.

m, m, (scarcely legible in the plate) are the cushions or guards, which push forward the straw, contained in the box : this object is especially promoted by the springs, n, n, that compress the cushions, and ought, therefore, to be sufficiently strong and elastic : but, according to a later improvement of Count Riesch, wood-screws placed on guard-boards, instead of cushions, more eftectually answer the purpose.

S, S, the regulating pins, by means of which the straw may be cut to any length required.

T, T, (being very minute in our plate) represent the diameter of the two levers.

U, U, (below the last-mentioned letters) are small cornices.

Fig. 2, a side view of the engine, in which the whole length of the box is delineated : and, as by the mechanism of this contrivance the straw is pushed forward, the parts by which such purpose is effected, are here distinctly represented :

1. The knife C.

2. For the illustration of K, and L., see Fig. 6.

3. The ratch-wheels H, as exhibited in another point of view, Fig. 3 and

4. The arms M, M.

5. The lever N.

6. The regulator S. 7. The cornice U.

8. The lever T, in full length, and to the extremity of which, a sufficient quantity of lead is attached, to prevent it from remaining stationary, when elevated.

9. The canvas v, which is farther explained in Fig. 4, and

10. The lower transverse hole 0, which is displayed in Fig. 11, and 12; as likewise is w, in 11.

Fig. 3, a sketch of the inner part of the box, with its compressing boards H, H, H, which are delineated in Fig. 2, and 11; but a profile of which, exhibiting their iron teeth or cogs, is given Fig. 8, H, H, H, H.

Fig. 4, also represents the inner breadth of the box, though from the lower part, as far as the regulating wheel; - farther, the canvas v, on which the straw is placed: the latter is carried along by the rotary motion of the wheels, accordingly as the arms are acted upon by the lever. - The letters r and R, occurring in, and at the side of this figure, will be accounted for in the description of the following.

Fig. 5, is an indented piece of machinery, called the straw-thrus-ter, delineated Fig. 2, and which is attached below the feeding-box in front of the frame, being marked by G. Fig. 2, and 11. This thruster rises together with the levers ; as it is intimately connected with the arms Z, into which the knives are inserted, having the size of the piece denoted by the letter R, (Fig. 4), and the aperture, through which it passes at the bottom of the box, being visible at r.

Fig. 6, is the socket supporting the roller e, by means of the pivot P, represented Fig. 10, and which roller moves as may be perceived by the upper beams marked L, L, at K, K, Fig. 2.

Fig. 7, section of part of the beam in which the knives C, C, of Fig. 1, and 2, move in I, I; so that they may be placed higher or lower: hence their scope or extent of motion maybe observed in this figure, pointed out by the letter q.

Fig. 8, has already been described in Fig. 3.

Fig. 9, has likewise been explained, by stating the mechanism of the beams, F,

Fig. 10, has been accounted for, at Fig. 1. - P, is the pivot; and t, the pin which serves to secure the former.

Fig. 11, a view of a box from the opposite side of Fig. 2 : at the dotted lines r, r, is the canvas mentioned in the description of Fig. 4, with this difference, that in such figure it appears within, while in Fig. 11, it is shewn from without, in the same manner as the cloth passes round the ratch-wheels, while the machine is in motion.

Fig. 12, is a section of the box viewed from behind; the piece of wood o, at the bottom, with inserted spindles; and the aperture serves for the reception of the lower part of the straw-thruster G, Fig. 5. For the arm w moves behind at x, Fig. 2, and 11, in the same manner as the staves Z, Z, to which the knives are fixed. Lastly, the balancing levers marked y, y, Fig. 11, are designed for the purpose of more firmly compressing the straw by the appropriate boards: - at f, f, Fig. 1, is the place in which the arms, M, M, Fig. 2, pass and move during the opera-tion of the machine.

The principal advantages of Count Riesch's straw-cutter, appear to be the following, namely, 1. That it cuts the straw in two boxes at the same time ; 2. That the straw placed in such boxes is regularly advanced, without any farther aid or attention ; and, 3. That the chaff thus manufactured, is not only eaten with avidity by cattle, but also is more salubrious than any other cut straw; because it is rendered much softer by the powerful compression of the machine. - He farther observes, that one man is capable of cutting at least 100 trusses of straw in the course of one day, or within 10 hours; whereas, by the common method, five men are required for performing a similar task.

In order to explain more distinctly the mechanism of this apparently complicated machinery, it should be remarked that, instead of the usual fly-wheels, the whole motion is effected by means of the balance, A, Fig. 1, and 2. Thus, one person supplies the two boxes with straw, swings the moveable arms, and manages the work, without any farther assistance. - When the engine was first constructed, the action of the balance was extremely difficult, till the levers B, B, Fig. 1, were brought nearer to the roller Q; an alteration by which the hypomochlion, or the centre of motion, became shorter, and the power of the lever was better accommodated to the centre of the cylinder. Now the balance was easily moved, and by means of the regulating pins S, S, Fig. 1, the straw could be cut of various lengths ; but, in case it be wanted uncommonly short, the teeth of the ratch-wheel h, h, h, Fig. 2, should stand more closely together; in consequence of which, the moveable arms g, g, g, will advance to a shorter distance, and protrude only a few lines of the straw, which may thus be cut to a very diminutive size.

In supplying the box with straw, the workman ought to dispose it in regular layers, as closely compressed as possible; for otherwise, if it be put there in an irregular manner, it will become entangled between the ratch-wheels, and the machinery will either fail of pushing it forward, or protrude it in bundles. Hence, the method of arranging the straw properly, requires especial attention; and its regular progression towards the knives cannot be effected, unless every part of the apparatus be in perfect order, and unison with the whole. With this view, the canvas v, Fig. 2, and 11, which contains the layers within the box (these being rolled forward by means of the cylinders H, H, H, Fig. 3), must be properly expanded. The compressing boards H, H, H. Fig. 2, and 11, should likewise be firmly applied by the regulating pin S. The levers U, U, Fig. 1, and 2, ought to be sufficiently raised in working the machine ; as, in the contrary case, the moveable arm (straw-thruster) G, Fig. 2, and 5, consequently the moveable arms M, M, would not be sufficiently acted upon, so that the teeth of the ratch-wheels H, H, H, will then make but a slight purchase, while the wheels themselves have not the necessary reaction : thus, little or. no straw will be pushed forward to undergo the operation of the knives.