Dashing Daisy cuts figure at The Plains

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On this machine, the operator sits to the side, facing forward, reins in hand.

As it moves forward, blades moving between iron fingers, wooden fans, four in all, sweep down past the operator to push cut material on to a wooden tray.

This is a McCormick Daisy side-delivery, built in the late 1800s, and the latest addition to the array of machinery at the Plains Museum, Tinwald.

It is in good order, but iron parts will be freed and rotten or missing wooden parts replaced.

John French and Murray Oakley, two Plains veterans, believe the Daisy is probably one of three or four left in the district.

The museum has another, similar, but it is in bits awaiting attention.

But the Daisy, which came from Ben Tait’s property at Mayfield, and kept in a shed all its life, is in good hands.

Mr French said he believed Mr Tait’s father bought the machine at a sale in South Canterbury, and the museum is probably its third owner.

Lindsay Holland and Don Ross are helping out with restoring wooden parts.

Mr French said it was hoped to have the Daisy restored and working at a field day planned for April.

John Booth, of Dayboo Stud, near Ashburton, is keen to take the reins – he breeds clydesdale horses and they will provide the motive power.

As the wheels turn, they drive the cutting bar and the four fan blades sweep the cut material on to a wooden plate, behind which an operator ties the sheaves by hand.

All the metal parts are in good order, and the maker’s name can be seen clearly.

Members have also spruced up a Hornsby and Sons horse-drawn hedge-cutter (1878).

It was restored 30 or 40 years ago by R Magson and M Crowley and is not a machine for the faint-hearted.

The operator sat on a steel seat just feet from a rotating blade.

The blade is on the end of a piston.

Mr French said the museum had plenty of projects on the go, and helpers were sought.

“If any reader wants to help, there’s plenty to do,” he said.