Horse-Drawn Equipment Key to Collection
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Dave's Deering cultivator used discs as hillers to mound earth around corn and potato plants. "I got it in North Dakota and that's what the seller told me," he says. "The discs angled toward each other at the bottom to bunch the dirt together."
The driver had to adjust the cultivator as the horses pulled it down the row. "The horses would pull off a little to the left or right," Dave says, "so the driver would have to adjust it with his feet to move the gangs of the cultivator a little bit." Foot pedals did most of the work, as the gangs weren't that hard to adjust while the machine was moving. "It took a little foot pressure, but it was set up with the fulcrum just right so the operator wouldn't have to push real hard, because he wouldn't be able to take it on his legs all day long," Dave notes. "So he fine-tuned the cultivator as he went down the row."
One of Dave's 1-row cultivators belonged to his dad. "He and his sister did all the cultivating on the farm," Dave says. Dave also has a John Deere 2-row cultivator. In American Farm Implements & Antiques, Wendel writes, "Especially on larger farms, the 2-row cultivator enjoyed a certain popularity. Conversely, many farmers preferred a single-row cultivator because they thought it would do a better job in eliminating every single weed in a field."
Dave figures horse-drawn discs were low on the totem pole since most don't even carry the company name. One of his is a 20-disc unit that could have been manufactured either by John Deere or IHC. "It isn't marked, so I'm not sure," Dave says, "although I lean toward John Deere." The person familiar with a given manufacturer's line can use parts numbers to identify some of the discs, Dave says. "They just weren't important enough to put the manufacturer's name on them, it appears."
One of Dave's unusual horse-drawn discs may have been partly homemade, as alternating discs in the implement have been removed and they didn't come from the factory that way. "That wouldn't be an easy job," Dave says. "You'd have to take the halves of the disc itself apart, pull out the shaft that held the discs and take out every other one. Nowadays they'd probably do it with a torch."
When Dave bought that disc he was told the discs were removed to enable use of the piece between rows of potatoes. "The openings with the missing discs would straddle the plants so they wouldn't get injured," he says, "and the discs would work the ground between the rows."
Another of Dave's discs has a pair of rock pans on it. To the uninitiated it might seem a good place to stow rocks that were uncovered while working in the field. In fact, the rock-filled pans effectively weighed down the disc, which Dave believes to have been manufactured by International Harvester. "Again, it's hard to tell who made it, but it's the only disc I've seen that has the rock pans, and I think they're original," he says. "The weight would hold the disc down on hard or lump ground."