Sunshine Stripper Harvester Model, 1899

The working model of the Sunshine Stripper Harvester is approximately one-fifth in scale. It was made at the H. V. McKay Sunshine Harvester Works, Ballarat in 1899.

A Revolution in Harvesting

The Sunshine Stripper Harvester is famous for combining the functions of a stripper and winnower in one machine. In one operation it could gather and thresh the ripe heads, separate the grain from the chaff and deliver the grain for bagging.

Early Sunshine Stripper Harvester

Early Sunshine Stripper Harvester
Source: Museum Victoria

A number of Australians were involved in the development of the stripper harvester. The most important was H. V. McKay who produced a successful machine in 1884 and subsequently manufactured large numbers as the “Sunshine” Stripper Harvester. The development of the stripper harvester increased the efficiency of cereal harvesting and helped to establish Australia as a leading cereal producing country. The innovative stripper harvester was the basis on which the McKay company became the largest agricultural manufacturing enterprise in the Southern Hemisphere.

Marketing Australian Innovations to the World

The great drought of 1902 froze the demand for harvesters. With 200 machines and no crops to harvest, or a prospect of selling them, McKay was compelled to look outside Australia for an alternative market for his equipment. He sent his brother Sam with 50 machines to Argentina. This was the start of a very successful export market that included South America, South Africa, Siberia and the United States. H. V. McKay took the harvester to Russia in 1912 to pursue the “splendid prospects” of developing an export market to the cereal growing areas of Russia.

H. V. McKay with members of the Russian Agricultural Society

H. V. McKay (seated second on left) with members of the Russian Agricultural Society, 1912
Source: Museum Victoria

McKay Heritage Project

The McKay collection has been acknowledged as one of the most significant industrial heritage collections in Australia.

The collection dates from H. V. McKay’s blacksmith shop, where the first stripper harvester was made in 1884, and includes material up to the 1990s when the company became known as AGCO Australia. Since 1996, a team of 23 volunteers has worked on documenting over 13 000 photographs, 750 films, over 3 000 trade publications, and has conducted a detailed survey of the Sunshine Harvester Works and the equipment manufactured on the site. In 2002, they were awarded a Museum Industry Award for the “Most Outstanding Volunteer Project in the Victorian Museum Sector”.

Comments (10)

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Dustin Manwaring 28 February, 2010 13:35
very good
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juan mervyn evans 26 June, 2010 03:30
tengo una maquina striper australiana de 1905. necesito infirmacion para restaurarla. la maquina esta en la patagonia provincia del chubut, localidad trevelin museo molino nant fach
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Discovery Centre 5 July, 2010 09:27

Hi Juan. We will send you an email soon regarding information that we have about the stripper.

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Michael Gill 16 December, 2010 01:19
Does anyone know what timber was used in the drum?
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tyla 23 May, 2011 19:36
this site is like totally orsum, the only thing is that it had NO INFOMATION ABOUT WHAT I WANT TO KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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John Green 13 June, 2011 08:10
I have 2 sunshine harvesters that I aquired with a block land and was wondering if you knew of anyboby that buys them
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Graham J Crawford 12 January, 2012 12:44
We have two pre 1920 (similar to your sketch) harvesters that we would like to donate to a Museum or similar at Cootamundra NSW...any suggestions?
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Discovery Centre 16 January, 2012 11:16

Hi Graham,

I have personally emailed you in regards to your offer.

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Bayley Tindall 12 March, 2013 17:00
Hey Im doing an assignment on the life of H.V Mckay, do you have a labelled copy of the harvester that you could send me? possibly with the functions of each part?
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Discovery Centre 14 March, 2013 10:17
Hi Bayley - there are plenty of online resources on our website that would be useful; as it's an assignment for you, an important part of the process is for you to do the research yourself. A few good starting points would be our Sunshine Harvester Works website, and also the records from the McKay Collections on our Collections Online website, which includes some good sorce text for your assignment as well as some scanned documents and images of items from the Museum's collections.
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