Agricultural Steam Engines

By Staff
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From The American Agriculturist, June 1875.

The employment of steam upon the farm, is yet in its infancy. In
the mechanic arts there is scarcely anything produced without the
employment of steam as the motive power; it is strange that in
agriculture, the industry which employs more laborers and more
capital than any other, the employment of steam should be very
exceptional and rare. Horsepower is almost the only dependence of
the farmer; but it is not so cheap as steam. It has been argued
that if steam engines are used upon farms, the horses will stand
idle, and the breeding of these animals become unprofitable. The
same argument was strongly urged within the memory of many of our
readers, as an objection against railroads. It was said that horses
would become useless for want of work. Experience has shown that
the wonderful expansion of the railroad system has so stimulated
every industry, that horses are in greater demand than ever before,
and in some countries their exportation is forbidden by law. The
same effect must necessarily follow the cheapening of labor on the
farm, by the use of steam. If the threshing, cutting and preparing
of feed, and other stationary work of the farm is done by
steam-power, there will be more time in which to plow and harrow,
and more land can be brought under cultivation, and this will set
in motion more work again for horses, as well as steam engines in
other ways.

Steam-power is cheaper in its first cost than horse-power. The
power of a dozen horses can be purchased for $1,200, and it
practically lasts indefinitely; never tires, never stops for
sickness, and never dies; besides this, and it is a most important
consideration, it only consumes while it is working. The food and
drink of a four-horse-power steam-engine, which will do the work of
more than four horses, consists of 200 pounds of coal, and 200
gallons of water daily. The cost of such an engine and boiler
complete, is about $700, at least that is the price at which the
portable engine, such as we here illustrate, can be procured. A
10-horse-power engine of the same kind, costs $1,200. This is much
less than the actual value of a corresponding force of horses. The
engraving represents a new and greatly improved portable engine, by
Messrs. Wood, Taber & Morse, of Eaton, Madison County, New
York, made expressly for farm work. These engines are of two sizes,
and called the ‘Rubicon,’ and the ‘Hercules.’ These
names have been chosen to avoid the uncertainty which arises from
the common denomination of ‘horse-powers by different
makers’; each of these two kinds of engines being all of exact
stated sizes and dimensions. The Rubicon is intended to drive a
separator to the utmost capacity of one gang of men in handling the
grain and straw; the Hercules will do double that work. This is
under moderate steam pressure, and is not the limit of their
capacity by any means. The cost of the first is $950, and that of
the latter $1,100. These engines are complete with strong but light
trucks, smoke pipe, spark arrester, automatic lubricator, and every
modern improvement that can be advantageously combined with them.
For threshing, cutting and steaming feed, cutting wood, and doing
the general mechanical work of the farm, hoisting, loading, or
unloading, there can be no cheaper nor more effective power than

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