This description from a 1933 McCormick-Deering corn planter operator's manual shows how difficult running a check-row planter could be.
The check-wire reel on this model was carried beneath the seat.
Planting corn with a check-row planter wasn't simple. The following was taken from a 1933 McCormick-Deering No. 102 corn planter operator's manual and shows just how tricky the procedure could be.
Reel can be used on either side of planter. In laying out wire, drive Planter to edge of field and place in position to drive across field where the first two rows are to be planted. Take wire from underside and directly off of reel. Hook wire on anchor stake, leaving a few extra links back of hook, then set anchor stake to the rear of Planter near fence and about twice the distance between rows out of line with center of Planter toward near edge of field.
Throw reel foot pedal forward and rest foot on it lightly so as to give a slight pressure on friction wheel of reel. Now drive carefully straight across field so that wheel marks can be used for a guide on the return when planting first two rows. Having driven to far end of field, detach reeling attachment and turn Planter in position for planting first two rows, driving Planter far enough in field to allow for about four links of wire between back of Planter and fence. Now remove enough wire from reel to reach to end of field, allowing a few extra links, hook on anchor stake, drawing wire fairly tight, set stake in rear of center of Planter near fence. In setting stake, see that wire is of proper tension when stake is shoved into the ground.
Disconnect marker from support and lower on side toward field, taking care that it is adjusted properly to conform with width of Planter.
Now place wire in fork and see that fork prongs have the proper adjustment. Close up pulley holder, set lever so as to allow runners to go into ground the proper depth and drive a steady gait to opposite end of field, using wheel marks as a guide.
It is not good policy to drive Planter nearer than about four knots of the end before tripping pulley holder and releasing wire, unless in an open field where you can set anchor stake far back of end of field. This plan will leave room for planting one round or four head rows across end of field and will relieve much unnecessary strain on the wire.
To be sure of a good check, it is advisable after having planted a few rows across the field, to dig up several hills, across rows, out some distance from the end of field and see whether or not they are in check. Should the hills show out of check, the distance of this offset is twice the amount of adjustment required of the boot heel to correct the error. For example, if the hills are two inches out of check, an adjustment of one inch of the heels of the boots will throw them in line.
If it is found the hills are dropped too soon, throw heel of boots forward by raising front of planter, using tongue adjustments. This will cause the hills to be carried a little farther before they are dropped. If the hills are carried too far before dropping, throw heel of boots to the rear by lowering front on tongue adjustments. This correction, if not too great, can also be made by raising or lowering end of pole slightly with breast strap.
Place reeling attachment on Planter, fasten wire to reel and put in guide so that it will feed from the front and over top of reel. Press foot firmly on foot pedals so that friction wheel will keep wire tight in front of reel when driving toward anchor stake across field. Use shifter to distribute wire evenly on reel. When all wire is on reel, throw foot pedal back so as to remove friction wheel from drive wheel.