From the Days of the Steam Plowing Age

| March/April 1955

  • 3 hp case engine
    9 hp. Case owned by Laurence B. B. Januslesle, R. D. 1, Spartt, Wis. This engine has been in the family for 35 years. His father owned it first. It is used for threshing. Laurence also has a 65 Case
  • 20 hp case engine
    Probably the youngest engineer in the world is Marvin Wilkinson, 11 years old, who operates his father's 20 hp. Case engine. He is a Kansas boy. This was in Popular Mechanics magazine. We don't know the year or anything else about the man now. Maybe someo
    J. A. Loffelmacher

  • 3 hp case engine
  • 20 hp case engine

Innisfail, Alberta, Canada

(This is Part IV)

The cross compound engine was very good in summer months but we used only the double simple. This was more economical in a whole year and more snappy in a hole. The cross compound was a little slow in the load and if the intercepting valve was used, often the result was a broken engine frame or stripped gears. The tandem compound did not give results and in most cases in a year or so the engine was changed back to a simple single cylinder, as the center head packing would leak or some other fault would develop under high pressure on continuous heavy load. One of the best single side crank engines used was a Robert Bell. In this engine the boiler was suspended in a heavy steel frame and the engine and all gearing was entirely free of the boiler. It worked very well and was easy to handle.

With the coming of steam or power steering, which some contractors used, it did relieve a lot of work on the engineer or steer man. When a steerman was used the engineer did his own firing. However, on any engine operated, we always put on a heavier set of steering chains than was supplied. When on rough ground, if a chain snapped you had to be either very quick on the throttle or have good luck by not having the wheels come around under. Quite a few boilers were very badly bent by wheels coming around striking a teriffic blow under the barrel.

The plows generally favored were of the independent type. Each beam separate which made them more flexible on uneven ground, also they seemed to be easier to raise at the end of a furrow, and in case of striking a soft spot or old loose sod they were a lot easier to get out. If an operator got in too bad all pins could be drawn and the platform pulled away. Of course that meant a half-day lost generally. The engine and chain had to be used to drag the beams clear and then all re-assembled. Just try it once and you would never take a chance again.

If you were plowing sod and a spot with no grass or very dark green grass came up suddenly you would stop and see what it meant, for in most instances there was plenty of trouble under those spots, either soft or black quick sand. If an operator once enters a spot like this with a big engine tied to a string of plows he will be a lot wiser after. That is where experience only can teach. . . However, there was always a way out and we always carried two railway ties on each plow platform. They could be laid cross ways of the face of the rear engine wheels and by canning them on could generally raise out of a bad spot by leaving the plow or load uncoupled, then move around and pull the load out backwards. With all the different trouble that one could get into, there was usually one main reason just plain carelessness or lack of experience.


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