PEI Potato Grader - Potato Museum
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History Of The Artefact:
This mechanical potato grader was made by a local resident of the O'Leary area of PEI during the 1950s . The nature of potatoes, a root crop, allows the potatoes to be stored for extended periods of time in a cool, frost free environment. For many years, this meant that loose potatoes were stored in cellars. Grading and bagging took place in the cellar once the harvest season was over.
A grader like this one would be taken down to the cellar, and potatoes would be fed into it from the feeding end (wooden slats), when the handle was cranked, the potatoes would move across the conveyor, with smaller potatoes (i.e., the "B" sized ones, or "seconds") falling through the chain link.
The potatoes that remained on top would reach the end of the conveyor and fall into one of the two bags, directed into one or the other by a piece of wood resting diagonally across the opening. The legs have attachments on them that they can be removed if the machine is too tall to fit into a particular cellar.
When potatoes are graded they are assessed for quality. Originally, graders were simply a crude slat with a bag attachment to the end. Potatoes were inspected on the slat and moved by hand into the bags. These were called slat graders. Eventually, mechanical graders came into wide use. Federal inspectors would often make random checks on potatoes to see if grading was being done properly.