The Move to Wider Gin Stands and Narrower Saw Spacings. Updated. May 2015
A current trend in cotton ginning today is the movement towards wider gin stands, and in many cases narrower saw spacings. This of course was started in 1992 with the introduction of the Consolidated 198 saw gin stand, “A Product of Vandergriff Research.” It was the world’s first 20 bale per hour stand. It took well over 10 years for the rest of the industry to catch up and buy-in to the concept of bigger gin stands. Continental followed with its 201 saw gin stand and then Cherokee with its massive 244 Magnum. In 2009, Consolidated Cotton Gin Company came out with their 222 saw gin stand, also a “Product of Vandergriff Research,” but there was one key difference that differentiated this stand from the rest of the field. This was not an extension or addition to the width of the gin stand itself, it was a narrowing of the saw spacing’s in the existing 198 frame to ultimately get to 222 saws.
Mr. Vandergriff had suggested this to Consolidated in the late 1990’s providing sketches and drawings with the proper, well calculated saw spacing’s to ultimately get to the final 222 saws. He even labeled it, “The 222.” All of this was based on his research at Elbow Gin on further narrowing saw spacing’s from what was standard at the time on the Continental161, Lummus 170, and Consolidated 164 and 198. So, Mr. Vandergriff wanted to push the envelope even further, and make the spacing ever narrower. He did exactly this by converting a Continental Gin Stand to182 saws at Elbow Gin in Visalia, California for the 1996 ginning season. This stand ran for close to 10 years in relative obscurity, drawing little attention from the cotton gin manufacturers, so it was very interesting for Vandergriff Inc. to hear that 4 Consolidated 222’s had been installed at Lubbock Cotton Grower’s Co-op Gin for the start of the 2009 gin season. Mr. Vandergriff passed away in 2004 at the age of 93. He had no idea his proposal for the Consolidated 222 would ever be considered, much less implemented. Putting the "222 and 184" saw gin into production was indeed a surprise to Vandergriff Inc. This would have never happened without Mr. Vandergriff's research, testing and implementation of the concept. Not to mention key drawings labeled "Product of Vandergriff Research."
Mr. Vandergriff has been such a seminal figure in gin stand development, and has played such a vital role, I feel that people in the industry would find his involvement very interesting. I have pulled information from his archives and from his book, “Ginning Cotton, An Entrepreneur’s Story,” published in 1997 by Texas Tech University. All information is well documented in this article. Of course, I have had countless hours of discussion with my father on gin stand development as well as other aspects of ginning over the years.
The Move To Narrower Saw Spacing in a Cotton Gin Stand.
Initial work on this concept started at Lummus with the Super 88 saw gin introduced in the mid 1950’s. In 1970, at J.G. Boswell Company in Corcoran, CA., he converted a Continental 119 saw gin to a 141 saws taking the saw spacing to unheard of spacings for the time. Why did he do this? To increase capacity of the stand and enhance the cleaning of the seed. A representative from Continental Gin Company flew out and watched the stand run during testing. There was a significant increase in capacity of the gin stand. This same representative flew back to Prattville, Alabama and it wasn’t long before Continental was marketing their NEW 141 saw gin stand. Lummus quickly followed suit moving from their 128 saw gin to their new 158 saw gin stand using the same spacing’s as the 141. In the late 1970’s he signed a consulting agreement with Continental to work on the incorporation of a seed tube and to continue his work in the area of narrower saw spacing’s. Much of the research from this had already started at Elbow Gin in Visalia, CA where he initially converted a Continental 120 saw gin stand to 152 saws and had installed seed tube arrangements in these same stands. He suggested to Continental the use of narrower saw spacing’s (161) and also suggested they modify their rib to improve seed discharge. At the end of 1978, he terminated his consulting arrangement with Continental because he felt certain stipulations in their agreement were not being honored. Continental continued on with their work and this ultimately led to the Continental 161 Golden Eagle Gin Stand. The research at Elbow gin was the template for the development of the Consolidated 164 saw gin stand, the first complete new gin stand since the Continental 16” saw introduced in 1961 while Mr. Vandergriff was President. These saw spacing’s , would be the same ones he had suggested to Continental Gin Company. Soon after, Lummus followed suit with their 170 saw gin stand. It is not a coincidence that all the saw spacing’s were the same as Elbow Gin, Continental and Consolidated.
Implementation of Narrower Saw Spacings.
At this time, almost everyone in the industry felt that it would not be feasible to narrow these spacing’s any more. But in 1995 he began toying with the idea of taking these spacing’s down even further. As mentioned earlier, the spacing he ultimately came up with would place 182 saws in a continental 161 saw frame. A stand was converted in 1995 to 182 saws at Elbow Gin in Visalia, California. The seed tube arrangement was left in place. Testing was difficult due to limited lint cleaning capacity behind the gin stand. Certainly more seed was removed from the seed roll and the potential for increased capacity was evident. Elbow Gin ran this stand for close to 10 years, and it was virtually unnoticed by the rest of the ginning industry. However, information regarding the saw spacing’s etc. was made available to Consolidated Cotton Gin Company whom Mr.Vandergriff was a Consultant with up until 1999. From this work at Elbow gin on the 182 saw gin, he began to encourage Consolidated to apply this same spacing to the 198 saw gin. This would ultimately create a gin stand with 222 saws. This same saw spacing was also applied to their 164 saw stand, that ended up being the Consolidated 184. Mr. Vandergriff provided drawings and sketches with key dimensions regarding this. Very little was heard back from Consolidated on any of this. Mr. Vandergriff passed away in 2004 at the age of 93. However, at some point in time Consolidated’s interest was renewed with wider gin stands becoming in vogue. In 2009, Loyd Vandergriff was informed that 4 Consolidated 222 saw gins were operating at Lubbock Cotton Grower’s. He was also informed that “Product of Vandergriff Research,” stickers were on each stand. Because of this, Loyd approached executives at Consolidated about the 222 saw gin stand, since this was a Vandergriff Idea that had been clearly documented on drawings that dated back to Elbow gin. These drawings that were given to Consolidated were labeled "222 Saw Gin" and had the key specifications for the new saw spacings. Loyd Vandergriff felt that given this, royalties to Vandergriff Inc. should be considered. Keep in mind that Mr. Vandergriff ‘s relationship with Consolidated ended in 1999, and he passed away in 2004. An executive of Consolidated and a good friend of Mr. Vandergriff, was receptive to this and agreed to approach the CEO of Lummus about this issue. His initial response was informal, but he stated there was there was no justification for any royalties. In 2013, a Consolidated 222 was on display at the Texas Cotton Ginner’s Show in Lubbock, TX. A Product of Vandergriff Research Sticker was on the gin stand, and a hand-out giving Mr. Vandergriff credit for his role in their new technology. Once again, Loyd Vandergriff brought the topic up yet again about this issue. This time a formal response was given to Vandergriff Inc. in writing from the CEO of Lummus, stating their was no justification for royalties to be paid. Vandergriff Inc. had no desire to pursue this any further lacking resources to really take this on. This clearly, in Loyd's view did not pass "the smell test," ethically or morally. Since this time, all major manufacturers of cotton ginning equipment are implementing the narrower saw spacing Mr. Vandergriff first used in his conversion at Elbow Gin in 1996.
Vandergriff Inc wanted to inform the industry of Mr. Vandergriff’s seminal roll in not only wider gin stands, but narrower saw spacings as well. While the industry is certainly better off from his reseach, he received little compensation for his efforts. Today, Vandergriff Inc. had developed a conversion to convert Continental 161's to 181's based on Mr. Vandergriff's research.
The history of cotton ginning has way of getting facts and events distorted over time. As a keeper of the Vandergriff flame, I am making sure that does not happen here. All information in this article is well documented, and most is included in Mr. Vandergriff's book, "Ginning Cotton, An Entrepreur's Story."