Letters to the Editor

The article “An Uphill Battle” by Sam Moore (Farm
, September 2006) brought back memories of my dad in
1936. We lived on a wheat farm in Grant County, Okla. We owned a
quarter section of land and he usually rented three additional
quarters. He had a couple of good crops and decided he needed to
upgrade his farm equipment – two new Case Model L tractors, two new
4-bottom, 14-inch plows and a grain drill. He wasn’t convinced that
rubber-tired tractors were the way to go, so he bought one on
rubber and one on steel. His theory was that he would pull the
combine with the rubber tractor, but if the ground was too wet and
they got stuck, he would switch to the “lug” tractor.

As soon as the combine made its first trip around the field and
the back swath was cut, a hired hand started plowing with the lug
tractor. When harvesting was done, both tractors were put to
plowing, sometimes night and day. Usually by the first week of July
all the fields were plowed.

The main advantage of the lug tractor in plowing was you didn’t
need to steer it. Just set the front wheel in the furrow and the
steel vertical blade didn’t deviate unless the steering wheel was
turned. Dad never liked narrow-front wheel-type row crop tractors,
because you had to steer them everywhere you went. Since we plowed
the fields round and round, when the field was finished you had to
“plow out” the corners. This was where the steel wheel tractor had
a distinct advantage. You were plowing across open furrow after
open furrow. The rubber-tired tractor bounced every time you hit a
furrow regardless of which wheel hit and sometimes the opposite
wheel hit furrows at the same time. Talk about “rock-a-bye-baby in
the tree top.” With the steel wheeler, you hardly noticed when it
crossed an open furrow.

In later years we just lifted the plow out of the ground at the
end of the furrow, did a sharp right-hand turn and dropped the plow
back into the ground heading off in a right angle. Of course by
that time, the plow lift was equipped with hydraulics, which was
much smoother and faster than the old mechanical lift system.

Finally, in 1944, Dad persuaded the OPA to allow him to buy a
set of used tires for the tractor and he converted it from steel to
rubber. The old steel rims were sold as junk to support the war
effort. In 1945 when we moved to a new farm in Harper County, Kan.,
he sold the old lug tractor (now on rubber) to the young man who
took over farming the rented farm where we lived. In the end,
except for plowing out corners, he had to agree that rubber did
just as good a job as steel wheels.

– Ivan L. Pfalser
R.R. 1, Box 162
Caney, KS 67333
(620) 879-2938

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and phone number or e-mail address so that we can contact you in
case we need more information. Send photos to:
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Show Photos, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609.

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