Sunday History Photo / Au

Submitted: Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 07:49
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Wool presses have greatly influenced the Australian pastoral industry. The development of effective and efficient wool presses saved labour costs, increased the number of sheep that could be shorn on a farm, and increased the value of wool when it went to market. If wool was well-packed and pressed, it presented well in European markets and thus commanded a good price. Pressing also decreased the cost of transport because shipping space was charged by volume rather than weight.

Prior to the development of mechanical presses, wool was baled by hand. It was a laborious process that required a number of farm workers. Wool was spade-pressed in boxes after being trampled down by foot. A layer of fleeces was squashed in a box, then a spade was used to squeeze more fleeces into gaps between fleeces and around the edges. Trampling and squeezing continued until there were 16 fleeces per bale. This type of pressing created lumpy and uneven bales.

Screw presses followed but they were extremely time-consuming. Large lever presses that used horse or man-power became common in the 1840s. 'Travelling box' presses were introduced in the 1860s. There were many variations and most were too expensive for graziers of small flocks to buy. Those farmers would usually take their sheep to be shorn at larger properties.

In the 1890s, Christian Koerstz, in business with Frederick Mason, designed and made cheap, efficient presses for small landholders. They transformed the industry. The presses occupied little floorspace and could be operated by one man. By the 1930s about 12,000 small Koerstz Selectors' and Homestead Lessees' presses had been sold around Australia and the world. By 1910 the heavier 'Squatter' press was standard equipment in most big shearing sheds.

Christian Christiansen Koerstz manufacturer and inventor, was born on 23 July 1847 at Kolding, Denmark, son of Christian Kortz, tailor, and his wife Anne Pouline Augusta Johanne, née Flerong. At 20, after being an apprentice mechanic in a Dutch firm of windmill-makers, he went to New Zealand and settled at Waverly, North Island. After twelve years spent making butter-boxes, and in building and bridge construction, he visited Denmark where at Kolding on 12 June 1887 he married Christina Petrea Kors. In August they reached Sydney where Koerstz met and became a business associate of Frederick Mason, grain and produce merchant of Sussex Street, who held patent rights to a woolpress and was agent for the Deering Harvester Co. Describing himself as a carpenter, Koerstz was granted provisional protection certificates by the Patents Office for an improved bundle-press in February 1890 and in 1891 for certain improvements in woolpresses, water pump and motor, and with Mason for an improved rotary pump. He thus began a long series of inventions and patents and a manufacturing firm which became well known in the pastoral industry in Australia and overseas.

:Note .. This press at Tumbarumba shown above is on the property owned by the late Grandparents of my Daughter, She has contacted the owner of the property and they have agreed to let it go so it remains in the Family, it will soon be here on my Daughters property near Spring Hill, NSW.

Realizing the great potential market for more efficient and labour-saving woolpresses, Koerstz designed and made presses for both the large and small sheep-owner. By 1898 Mason, Koerstz's sole agent, had sold hundreds of the 'New Koerstz Selectors' and Homestead Lessees' Press', which was claimed to have 'practically annihilated all competition'. Keenly priced at £15 and originally designed for the smallholder, it weighed 12 cwt (610 kg), could be worked by one man and handle the pressing of wool from flocks of over 20,000 sheep. By 1910 Koerstz was a large and successful exhibitor at the Royal Agricultural Society's Sydney Show and his woolpresses — 'Little Wonder', 'Squatter', 'Station', 'Bosker', 'Conqueror' and 'Improved Langley' — ranging in price from £12 10s to £35, were standard equipment in a large and increasing number of shearing-sheds. His factory at Pyrmont also produced hay, skin, cotton and winepresses, quartz-crushers, pumps and a wide range of other agricultural implements. The expanded factory moved to Mentmore Avenue, Rosebery, in 1925.
Koerstz, whose inventiveness and high standard of workmanship did much for Australia's wool industry, was naturalized in 1907. At 65 he retired in favour of his children who continued the business as a partnership.

He died at his residence, Kolding, Ryde, on 9 May 1930, survived by three sons and three daughters, and was buried in the Anglican section of the Field of Mars cemetery. His estate was sworn for probate at £14,167.

Some other types of Wool Press'

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Reply By: Life Member - Fred B (ex-NT) - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 08:18

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 08:18
A great read as usual..... Have seen a number of the presses (different styles and manufacturers) over the years, and have been impressed by their simplicity (in most
Fred B
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Reply By: Member - ACD 1 - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 10:10

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 10:10
Geez Doug - I don't know that this one counts as a history lesson...

We are still using a couple of those old "Sunbeams" for the smaller lines of our clip. We still used them regularly until we got an electric press.

Nothing like getting a smack in the mouth if your hand slips of the handle on the down stroke. It's a wonder I didn't break my jaw.


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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 10:41

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 10:41
Haaa yeh High Lift Jacks can do some damage too.

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Reply By: Member - Charlie M (SA) - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 10:11

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 10:11
The Ajax steel wool press was another one used a lot.
The monkey was put on top after it was filled, tramped and then it was pulled down by two steel ratchet bars with the handles fitted when ready to press, then pinned with 3 pins into the bale to close the bale up. 1960s onward and still in use to day for some of the bellies, locks ect
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Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 10:21

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 10:21
Hi Charlie

We also have a couple of these in the little shed.

These buggers can be quite dangerous as well. My uncle lost a toe when my cousin threw the monkey on top of the wool - used a couple of weetbix to many and it went straight over the top and took my uncles toe clean of through his shearing moccasin.

Also seen the shed hands (mostly backpackers) get stabbed by the pins as they get belted through from one side and go in on a bit of an angle and hit the steel cross bar. When they try to lever them down, they lean against the press and the final belt from the other side puts it straight into them. (Something always got lost in the translation when your train them how to use it)


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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 22:52

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 22:52
We still have an Ajax (ratchet not cable model) in addition to an electric press which would be an antique too - an early model Morton Baker.

My father was thrown from his cable Ajax once, and had a very close call.


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Reply By: Ron N - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 10:18

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 10:18
Doug, some of those old presses still look like hard work! Never had to operate any of them, fortunately - but I've done my time on mechanical Ajax and Sunbeam presses!
I can remember how the introduction of side-opening hydraulic wool presses in the early 1970's was welcomed as a huge advance.
Hydraulic automatic pinning, single lever control, it was pure heaven for rousties! LOL
Thanks again for another interesting article.

Cheers, Ron.
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Reply By: Member - Brian H16 - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 10:57

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 10:57
You are a legend Doug ! Great article & pictures. I have pressed with many including the Ferrier with the sandbag counter weight. It took me a while to get used to running down the post upside down, pulling the rope to get the top box over. I was only 12 stone (but very fit) so a little more weight would have helped. I also like stacking my 3cwt bales as we got paid for each level. Also used the Koertz & Warrigo. Yes, like most learners, I press the pins on m,y first week. Never again though. I preferred the five stand sheds as the presser also has to 'pen up' on a four stand and makes less money as well. Liked the food in the sheds and never got tired of mutton even though we had it three meals a day. After a good shed 'run' I was able to walk into Morgan & Wacker and pay cash for a new Triumph Tiger 110 motorcycle, same as the police had then. No helmets those days. Thanks for your great information Brian F (Lofty) Harris
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Follow Up By: Member - Keith P (NSW) - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 16:49

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 16:49
Well that brought back some memories....and none of them really that good!!
The old man had a swing around Koertz press ...and from about 15 onwards it was my miserable domain until I bolted when I was 20!!
I used a "flip" or tumble- over one on Nymadgee Station one year (only....thank goodness!!!)....and pressed 45 bales in one day myself (I was 18)....kept up to 5 shearers...but only just!!!.
Now ...after learning my lesson at 20...I am glad some folks are turning them into nice furniture...a fitting end I reckon!!

Cheers Keith
Nothin is ever the same once I own it ...........

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