Early in the 1900's, the grazing industry in Texas, Kansas and other plain states was rapidly changing to agriculture. Large tracts of land were owned by individuals. Horses were not there and had they been there, many years would have been required to develop that vast area. The times demanded it be brought quickly into cultivation. The steam traction, engine was the only other power.
Advance Thresher Co., and other thresher companies sold many standard engines to hasten the plowing and development of thousands of acres of buffalo grass sod.
The gears on Advance engines, then, were cast and counter shafts small, having been made for light traction work. Neither the gears nor the shafts, then, were sufficiently strong to withstand the strain of plowing buffalo grass sod.
In 1905, faces of bull gears and bull pinions on 22 and 26 hp. engines were increased to 5' and were semi-steel. Counter shafts were larger. In 1907, 22 and 26 hp. engines were equipped with semi-steel bull gears and pinions with 6' faces, removable sleeves in hubs of drive wheels and larger brackets.
In the early 1900's standard engines properly operated, did good work in cultivated land. Fields of several hundred acres, were plowed with little trouble and small expense.
Plowing buffalo grass sod, was not plowing cultivated land. A plow engine was under terrific strain every moment it was in action. A plow was a dead load moving down grade. No other machine ever was mistreated worse, more expected of it and less mercy shown it. Could some operators have plowed ? section a day, it would have been done. Those engines plowed as much as 40 days in a plowing season. Thousands of acres were plowed by them and it was not a discredit to an engine, under those circumstances to crack its boiler, rip brackets from its boiler or break its crankshaft.
A good threshing engine could not be made a plow engine by making improvements and building it stronger but it made a better engine.
Advance Thresher Co., decided to build a special engine and requested salesmen suggest how they thought a plow engine should be built.
Having been familiar with the business methods of Advance Thresher Co., its reluctance to request or accept suggestions and having known of the successful management of that company's business during the life of the company, the request for suggestions on a new engine, was like 'lightning from a clear sky.'
Advance Thresher Co., was slow to adopt new methods and make changes in machinery but was fair with its employees, customers and competitors. Regardless of reports of price cutting, that company cut no prices. If a salesman wrote an order too low it was returned for him to get the price and if he failed the order was lost.
Advance Thresher Company made and sold rotary knife feeders in 1890. Those feeders, with a few improvements, were sold as late as 1907. Rotary knife feeders did not satisfactorily feed long, fluffy headed wheat but it was not until 1905 that Advance Thresher Co., substituted any other make of feeder for an Advance. Before that time, it was either sell a separator with an Advance feeder, sell it without a feeder or lose the sale. Complete rig sales were lost because of the sale of an Advance feeder.
Those forks in an Advance separator, back of the cylinder, were unpopular and created a heavy sales resistance but that company would not discard them for any other separating device and said, 'Those forks were the Advance separator', and they were and also were the Abell separator built in Canada by Advance Thresher Company and Minneapolis T. M. Company.
With my apology, I suggested a rear mounted live axle engine, with steel gears, strong shafts, high drive wheels, intermediate gear keyed to a shaft with babbitted bearings, high pressure boiler, cross compound engine, center bearing on crankshaft, link reverse, without clutch and fuel and water equipment of large capacity. I am nearly certain, I suggested piston valves. No suggestion was made to the mounting of the engine. Frick Company controlled the patents on the mounting of an engine superior to all other mountings.
My reasons for the principal suggestions were: Gears on a rear mounted, live axle engine remained in better alignment than on a side mounted engine. Steel gears are stronger than cast gears. High drive wheels will not sink as far in soft ground as low wheels and an engine with high wheels traveled over wet ground where engines with low wheels mired. A Jumbo with its high narrow wheels, went where engines with low wider wheels mired. Either a simple or a compound engine was more economical with high boiler pressure. It was demonstrated, to me, a good compound engine consumed at least 25 per cent less fuel and water than a good simple under similar loads and conditions. Coal prices were high and water scarce, where buffalo grass sod was plowed and in no other work, was the need greater for an economical engine. A double engine was less destructive on its gears than a single. A cross compound could be operated as a double to start loads and when operated compound, performed as a double, with the economy of a compound. A heavy link with two eccentric hubs was a good reverse. A valve could be set with equal leads on both motions and operated on short travel. A link operated smoothly, with well lubricated cylinder and valve. It was useless to suggest piston valves to Advance Thresher Co. That Company believed in the double ported slide valve.