Sunshine header-harvester, c.1935

Made 1935

This Australian cereal harvesting machine made by H.V. McKay Pty Ltd of Sunshine, Victoria, in 1935 is known by various names: a header-harvester, initially a reaper-thresher, and later just a header. It is an Australian innovation and is significant because it solved the problem in Australia of harvesting storm flattened crops, and by the 1920s it was the usual harvesting machine in New South Wales, though the stripper-harvester and even the stripper continued to be used for light crops and rou...


Object No.


Physical Description

Header-harvester, ground drive, full size, 'Sunshine', made by H.V. McKay Pty Ltd, Sunshine Harvester Works, Sunshine, Victoria, Australia, 1935, used by the Hyland and Stapleton families of Cudal, New South Wales, Australia,



2200 mm


4200 mm



The harvester was made by H.V. McKay Pty Ltd at the Sunshine Harvester Works, Sunshine, Victoria. It was first sold in 1916 both in horse-drawn and engine functioned types. The latter involved the harvesting machinery being driven by a petrol engine and the horses were only required to pull the machine along. A self-propelled auto-header was built at Sunshine from 1924.

The header-harvester cut an 8 foot swathe through the crop and when horse-drawn required 5 to 6 horses to pull, according to the soil and condition of the crop. Generally 26 acres of crop could be harvested each day. The operation involved gathering, cutting, threshing, winnowing and cleaning the grain and making it ready for bagging. The comb first engaged the crop and guided it into reciprocating knives, which cut off the heads and some of the straw. The heads and straw were seized by the revolving spiral steel conveyors which carried them to the floating elevator and on to the threshing drum. The comb, knives and conveyors were adjustable to suit the crop. From the threshing drum the mass of grain and straw were delivered to the straw walker, which conveyed the straw to the rear of the machine and ejected it. The grain and chaff went on to the grain tray and then fell onto riddles and blown with a strong blast from fans which blew away the chaff. Any imperfectly thrashed grains which had reached the riddles were delivered to the seconds elevator and returned to the threshing drum for further treatment. The riddles delivered all the clean grain to the grain elevator and on to the revolving screen which rejected all the small or broken grains and dropped them into seconds box while the good grain passed into the large grain box ready for bagging.





This harvester was purchased between 1935 and 1938 by the Hyland family of 'Noalmae' Cudal, in the central western area of New South Wales. The harvester was purchased from Western Stores in Orange from the salesman Mr Phil Morrisey. The harvester was horse-drawn but during the mid to late 1940s it was converted to tractor operation with the addition of a power takeoff converted at Henry's foundry at Parkes, New South Wales. The header was later sold to the Stapleton family of 'Gundamain', Forbes Road, Cudal, and presented to the Museum by Dr D. Stapleton in 1981.


Credit Line

Gift of D Stapleton, 1981

Acquisition Date

10 June 1981

Cite this Object


Sunshine header-harvester, c.1935 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 19 November 2018, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Sunshine header-harvester, c.1935 |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=19 November 2018 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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