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Cyrus McCormick was born in 1809 at Willow Grove the McCormick family farm near Steeles Tavern Va The farm operated a sawmill a cider mill a distillery two grain mills and a smokehouse Cyrus McCormicks father Robert had worked on a horse-drawn reaper off and on from 1815 but was never able to get his designs to work satisfactorily In 1831 Robert McCormick abandoned his efforts to perfect his reaper Working in the farms blacksmith shop his 22-year-old son Cyrus took up the challenge of the reaper He took his fathers design as a starting point and added several new features Within six weeks they had built a successful demonstration model of the reaper and conducted a public trial of the machine at Walnut Grove The reaper used a reciprocating knife much like todays sickle bar mower to cut the grain Metal fingers guided the stalks into the knife and a revolving reel pushed the grain into the knife for a clean cut A master wheel which carried most of the weight of the machine rolled on the ground and drove the knife through gears and linkages The cut grain fell onto a platform behind the knife where it was raked off into windrows or piles A horse pulled the machine through the field With McCormicks reaper two people could cut as much grain in one day as four or five men with cradles or a dozen with old-fashioned sickles After the successful trial in 1831 McCormick continued to improve his design and applied for a patent in 1834 By 1841 he was finally satisfied with his machine and began offering the reaper for sale Sales were slow at first farmers had been harvesting wheat for generations with hand-tools and were skeptical of this new-fangled invention McCormick advertised his machine with a guarantee If the reaper was not as strong and durable as he claimed and would not cut 15 acres a
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