Shearing | 29 May 2020

Lister Handpieces and their history

Shearing handpieces have been around for centuries and have remained relatively unchanged since they were developed in the late 1800’s.

We have come a long way from hand clipping and even further in the design and engineering of the handpiece we now have today. Before the invention of mechanical shearing machines, a traditional English way of shearing a sheep involved tying its legs together, placing the sheep on a stool and clipping the wool in criss-cross fashion. It was tiring and slow work with no more than 50 sheep clipped per man a day. It’s remarkable with shearing handpieces today that shearers are shearing more than 200 sheep daily with world records being set of up to 731 ewes being shorn in the average day.

Lister Shearing was founded in 1909 during the time when sheep were still painstakingly shorn by hand blades, but R A Lister & co used their 42 years of experience in the agricultural industry to develop their first mechanical  shearing machine. The earliest mechanical shearing machines involved a second person turning a handle which, by direct drive, powered reciprocating blades which were fixed on a ‘hand piece’ held by the shearer.

As the development of shearing handpieces progressed the basic components stayed the same. The working parts of handpieces consisted of a revolving shaft mounted in the barrel with a universal joining cog at one end and a crank pin at the other. The crank pin generated a sideways motion to the forks of the handpiece which caused the cutter to pass backwards and forwards across the comb. A tensioner pressed the cutter down on the comb. The comb (fixed) and cutter (moving) are the means of shearing the fleece. The cutter passes over the comb at speeds in excess of 2800 rpm; this action will cleanly cut the fleece.

Moving forward Lister has developed a range of handpieces for all abilities and shearing needs. The two available today are the Skorpion and Outback. The Skorpion is a triple bearing handpiece developed for the professional shearer. It’s contoured body has been expertly moulded to deliver true precision cutting with greater control and effortless results. Perfectly weighted, the Skorpion provides cool running and comfort over long periods of time.

The Outback is hardwearing and durable, this twin bearing handpiece offers consistent results for farmers and professional shearers alike. No matter how harsh the shearing environment, the Outback is robust, reliable and ready for the challenge.

So if you are stuck in the past and need to upgrade your handpiece we have something to suit.


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