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Eli Whitney’s Legacy

This year, while the cotton gathering season was in full swing, I had the privilege of riding along on a module truck as the driver made the trip from the cotton gin to the cotton field to pick up a module of cotton and haul it back to be ginned. There was no reason not to take a camera along, so I did, with The Tractor Forum in mind. The pictures you are about to see was taken over a six day period. The pictures are not shown in the sequence they were taken but instead in order that the cotton makes from the stalk through the ginning process.

Some of these trips were forty miles or so one way so I had plenty of time to think back to earlier times during the ride. I wondered if any of what I was seeing would be possible had Eli Whitney not have given us the cotton gin in 1794. Needless to say a lot had changed between the time of Eli’s 50 Lb. per day cotton gin and the time I worked in the cotton field as a young boy. However, cotton at that time was still being picked by hand. Now most of the back breaking work has been taken of the cotton business since “those olden days” and the pictures will show the huge strides made in the modern day the production of cotton.

In the language of the younger generation, the trip to the field in the module truck was a “trip”. We left the gin traveling on a paved four lane state Highway. We turned off that onto a paved two lane county road. We turned off that onto a semi two lane dirt county road. We turn off that onto a single lane pig path. Sometimes they were graded. Sometimes the streams they crossed had bridges. Finally, we turn onto the farmer’s field road, number of lanes if any undeterminable. Graded? Maybe run over sometime in the past by a tractor dragging a fairly smooth log. Needless to say, module trucks will go places no one would believe they could go.

Enough of my rambling talk, here’s the pictures. They are numbered should someone have a question about a particular one.

1. This is what a cotton field looks like after it has been defoliated.


2. This close up of cotton on the stalk. Defoliation has made the cotton ready for the picker.


3. This is a cotton picker moving along at a pace a little faster than a walk. Yes the cab is air-conditioned.


4. One row’s view of cotton picker.


5. Here the cotton picker is dumping it’s full load into the module builder.


6. This is a picture of a bowl buggy dumping into a module builder. The cotton picker dumps into this machine. Saves time and lets the cotton picker keep picking while the bole buggy carries the cotton to the module builder. This is used after the cotton picker has moved across the field away from the module builder.


7. A module builder that has just been lifted, opened at the back and moved off a module. Notice it has no floor.


8. The inside of the module builder showing the hydraulic ram packing the cotton. The operator moves ram back and froth as well as up and down.


9. The module truck picking up a module. A module weights about 12,000 lbs. which will produce about twelve 500 lbs. bales of ginned cotton and about 6ooo lb. pound of seed.


10. Here you see a “crawler”. There is one on each side of the truck. Once the truck is in place at the module, it’s transmission is placed in neutral. The truck’s PTO driven hydraulic pump is switch on and the bed is raised. Then the hydraulic motor powering these crawlers and a series of parallel chains on the bed of the truck are engaged. The crawlers move the truck rearward as the chains turning toward the interior of the truck move under the module. Once the module is on the bed, the bed is lowered. The truck at this point is loaded and ready for the trip to the gin.


11. These are placed around cotton fields in a program run by the state in an on going effort to completely eradicate the boll weevil. They contain a chemical that attracts the weevils. By keeping track of the number caught in an area, data can be derived letting a farmer know how much, or if any, insecticide should be applied to a field of cotton The farmer, naturally, has to pay the state a small fee for this service.


12. This machine is located at the gin. It’s function is to move over the module, loosen the cotton and feed it out to the side onto a conveyer. It is on tracks and upon reaching the end of the tracks in one direction is reversed and operated in the opposite direction. This allows modules to be placed between the tracks in such a way at that the machine operates almost continuously.


13. Here you see the cotton being feed onto the conveyer.


14. At the end of the conveyer the cotton will be sucked into the ginning machinery by strong vacuum.


15. This is the three gins at the gin running as can be seen by the cotton falling down through them.


16. A close up of one of the gins.


17. This is the press. Notice there are two sections. Both sections work together and are on a turn table. When the section on the right is full the turn table is rotated and the section on left with the bale of cotton will be compressed and tied while the section on right fills.


18. The press in operation. The “door” had to be opened in order to pass the wire ties around and to other side so the bale could be tied.


19. The other side of the press showing a bale about to be removed. A bale was being finished about every three minuets at the time I took this picture.



20. Wrap machine. The plunger in foreground will force the bale through the machine once the plastic wrap is placed over the machine thus into plastic wrap.


21. Finished bale of cotton.


22. High tech sealing machine for plastic wrap/with label maker


23. This is where the cotton seeds are blown by gin equipment. Seed will be shipped from here.


24. A view of the waste discharge.


25. Cotton warehouse. Bales stored and waiting shipment.
 

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Argee said:
Thanks for reposting that John...that is a very interesting story.

:ditto: I hated to see all the great post thats now gone. I'm glad you reposted that you spent alot of time on that and its very interesting on how it all works.
 

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Thanks again for posting that, john-in-ga. :fing02:
 

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Anything With Wheels
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John,
You posted a picture, I believe of a burned out tractor that was sitting next to a module that had caught fire due to spontaneous combustion. Am I remembering that right?? or is my mind playing tricks on me?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Agree,

I know the pictures in this tread, while they were on the Tractorforum site, was down loaded by one lady for a grammar school student to use in a school project. I was hoping that they might be used by another student. That is the reason I put them back up here.

I did indeed post a picture or rather a series of three pictures on the Tractorforum of a burned out cotton picker. I think I called the thread “Eli Whitney’s Legacy II” or something silly like that. I decided not to put them here as there didn’t seem that much interest in them the first go round.

If you need them, I’ll see if I can have another go at getting them posted.

P. S.

The thing you’re not remembering quiet right is the module caught fire due to the malfunctioning cotton picker, not spontaneous combustion.
 

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Anything With Wheels
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John,

I just found the burned out relic to be amazing, it showed how fast spontaneous combustion can erupt. I just thought they were pretty cool :)
 
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