It's not an antique, it's new. I first found manual corn shellers in a Lehman's catalogue, but I purchased ours from Pleasant Hill Grain. It is cast iron and very heavy.
We were stumped setting it up for the first time, because we didn't expect the crank to be on the opposite side of the clamps. We clamped it to a board, which is secured to saw horses with c-clamps. I put a plastic tray underneath to catch any wayward corn kernels. Corn still flew so Dan suggested slipping an old feed bag under the clamps as well.
This worked well and the bag caught most of it.
The action of the sheller is extremely clever I think.
As the shelling wheel is turned with the crank, the teeth on the wheel remove the kernels and rotate the cob as it moves downward.
If the cranking action is smooth and steady, the end of the cob is turned by the teeth...
... and pushed upward.
It's ejected out the side of the sheller...
... where it's easily caught and tossed aside. It's not very easy to explain, so I found a video on YouTube. It shows the process in motion with a sheller similar to mine.You can view that video here.
Experimentation taught me that it works best for medium to large size ears. I can't say I get it 100% of the time, but I can say it makes quick work of an otherwise tedious job. Definitely worth it's purchase price!
Stray kernel clean-up service was provided by my personal chicken.
One question on my mind was what to do with the discarded cobs. I've been burning them in the woodstoves, but was curious if there wasn't something else they be used for. Here's what I learned from my internet research. Corn cobs are used for:
- fire starter
- production of the chemical furfural, which can be further made into stockfeed, flavoring, herbicides, a chemical solvent, a wetting agent, and in the manufacture of abrasive wheels, brake linings and refractory products.
- shredded as livestock and pet bedding for small caged animals such as hamsters, guinea pigs, etc.
- shredded for compost worm bedding
- pot scrubbers
- charcoal production
- coarsely ground as a mild abrasive for cleaning surfaces
- ground up for fiber in ruminant livestock feed
- boiled in water to extract thickeners which can be used in soups, stews, and corncob jelly
I'm not sure which of these need fresh corn cobs, or which can use dried.The last three or four I would be interested in trying as we work toward a no waste way of life.
About five pounds of the shelled corn was saved for seed, a gallon jar full was added to in the freezer for making corn meal, and the rest is for the chickens.