The Jacob Price Field Locomotive.
THE MOST POWERFUL TRACTION ENGINE MADE.
PLOWING, FREIGHTING, LOGGING.
Running Threshing Machines and other Stationary
MANUFACTURED AT WORKS OF
J. I. CASE THRESHING MACHINE CO.,
FOR JACOB PRICE,
RACINE, WISCONSIN, U. S. A. 1895.
When Jacob Price entered the steam traction business in 1890, he
came to it with decades of experience in the agricultural industry.
Price, already successful for his famed Petaluma Hay Press, was
looking for success in what appeared to be the next big enterprise
Price patented his first design – employing a standard
horizontal boiler – in 1887. In 1890, and drawing heavily from
Marquis De Lafayette Remington’s design of the late 1880s, he
patented a new, vertical-boiled machine.
Lacking suitable facilities for constructing his new engines,
Price turned to the J.I. Case Co. of Racine, Wis. Case, of course,
had ample experience in the successful manufacture of steam
traction engines, and by agreement Case took on the manufacturing
of Jacob Price engines.
It’s not exactly clear what engines were produced when.
Price’s first engine of 1890 was apparently rated at 100 HP. An
1892 J.I. Case catalog lists two Price engines, a 60 HP and an 80
HP, while an 1895 catalog lists a 40 HP and again an 80 HP.
Jacob Price engines performed well in early competitions, but
it’s not clear how well they performed in the market for new
machinery. Designed more for West Coast environments, but built in
Wisconsin and marketed through Case’s formidable chain of
dealers, Jacob Price engines don’t appear to have sold in any
Evidently, poor sales led Price to abandon his enterprise, and
he sold his patents to J.I. Case in 1893. Case apparently tried to
sustain sales of Jacob Price engines (it’s unknown if they had
a backlog of finished machines or if they were simply testing the
market) at least through 1895, when the catalog featured here was
The catalog pages reproduced here come from an original 1895
catalog in the possession of John Davidson, Briston, Wis. John has
given us access to the catalog, and over the next few issues
we’ll reprint the catalog in its entirety. That is, with the
exception of the cover, which was found to be in poor condition and
not a good candidate for reproduction.
Fortunately, the rest of the catalog is in excellent condition,
and we’re sure readers will enjoy this rare chance to view
first-hand the catalog offerings of an important individual in the
evolution of steam traction engines, Jacob Price.
THE JACOB PRICE FIELD LOCOMOTIVE
Or Plowing Engine, as it is frequently called, is now in the
fifth year of its existence. In that time it has gone into
extensive and successful use in nearly all the states and
territories lying west of the Mississippi river and a considerable
foreign demand, covering nearly all parts of the civilized world,
has arisen for it.
During the whole of this time the designer of the machine has
spent nearly all the summer months in the field, observing its
operation at all kinds of work, and this has led to some recent
And many minor ones both on the engines and the plowing
attachment. The most important of these are described in other
pages of this circular.
In the matter of strength, durability, quality of work and ease
of handling, they place this engine almost beyond criticism.
Concerning power, no improvement is claimed because that has always
been more than sufficient to do the work that it is represented to
do, as all who have seen it work will testify.
A CONCISE STATEMENT OF THE CAPABILITIES AND GENERAL FEATURES OF
BOTH SIZES OF THESE ENGINES
Is given on this page and is enlarged upon further on.
There are two sizes the smallest being of 40 horse power and the
largest of 80 horse power.
(Details, relating to dimensions of parts, horse power,
capacity, steam pressure, speed of engines, prices, etc., are given
in tabular form page 14, but some of the more important facts are
also stated here.)
The weight of the 40 horse engine is 5 tons three tons less than
the 18 horse threshing engines of several makers. Its price,
without plows, is $2,500. It travels, when plowing, or doing other
heavy hauling, three miles per hour, and can be speeded to about 4
miles when running light.
The plowing attachment cuts from 5 to 6 feet according to nature
of work at each passage and costs $250.
The amount that can be plowed in a day, with the smallest engine
will vary from 10 to 20 acres according to condition of soil,
energy and skill of operators, promptness of fuel and water supply,
length of day, etc., etc. The machine must be run about 21 miles to
plow 15 acres, which can be done in 7 hours if it is kept
It will haul from 15 to 20 tons of freight, on suitable wagons,
over a reasonably good road, having grades not exceeding 300 feet
per mile. Has band wheel for running threshing machines or other
The weight of the 80 horse engine is in round numbers 10 tons or
from 1 to 3 tons heavier than 18 horse threshing engines of other
makers. Its price is $4,000.
Its speed when pulling heavily is 3 miles per hour. With a light
load 5 miles.
The plowing attachment cuts from 10 to 12 feet in width
according to character of soil and depth of plowing at each
passage, and costs $500.
The amount that can be plowed in a day will vary, for causes
enumerated above, from 20 to 40 acres. It must run about 21 miles
to plow 30 acres. This distance can be accomplished in a day almost
The 80 horse machine will haul from 30 to 40 tons of freight, on
suitable wagons, over a fair road having grades not exceeding 300
feet to the mile.
The following table gives a detailed estimate of the cost (cash
outlay) for running an 80 horse engine for one day, when plowing.
As will be seen the range is quite wide, because the prices of fuel
and labor vary greatly in different states and countries, but, from
the list of items given, it will be easy to make up a table to fit
any given locality.
COST OF RUNNING AN 80-HORSE PLOWING OUTFIT ONE DAY.
From one to two tons soft, cheap coal
$3 00 to $8 00
Engineer (who is also steersman)
2 50 to 4 00
Fireman (who attends to plows also)
1 50 to 2 50
Man to drive water wagon
1 00 to 2 00
Feed of two horses
50 to 90
Sharpening Plow Shares
1 00 to 2 00
Oil for lubrication
50 to 60
Total cash outlay for one day’s run
$10 00 to $20 00
The above estimate, as before stated, is for the largest
machine. The figures will not be proportionately less for the
smallest one. Perhaps from two to three dollars can be saved on
fuel. Probably in most localities the cost of a day’s run will
not exceed $15.00 for the largest and $10.00 for the smallest one.
Where prices range as given above and the outfit is intelligently
and energetically handled, on lands adapted to steam cultivation,
the cost of plowing, per acre, will range from 50 to 75 cents with
the 80 horse machine and from 75 cents to $1.00 with the smallest
The foregoing statement of the capacity and power of these
engines is purposely made conservative in order that a
demonstration thereof, in the field, may be made easily.
The smallest machine is easily of 40 horse power and the largest
one of 80, taking the boiler pressure of the former at 175 pounds
per square inch and of the latter at 150 pounds. But this must not
be understood to mean that they should be worked up to that power
constantly but that they can be so worked, temporarily, if
necessary. Five years experience with pulling engines has shown
that they must have a reserve power and strength of at least
one-half in other words that they must be able, in a pinch, to do
twice their regular work.
The horse power as given above is correct according to the usual
method of computation, but to simplify the matter, the
pulling power of these machines is given in another
‘The 40 horse engine, besides propelling itself, will do as
much plowing or hauling in a stated time, as 20 average horses, and
the 80 horse in addition to propelling itself will do as much as 40
This does not mean, however, that the 40 horse engine will pull
at the rate of three miles per hour as much as 20 horses will pull
at the rate of two miles per hour (which is the walking speed of a
horse pulling a full load) or that the 80 horse will pull at three
miles as much as 40 horses at two miles. The distance the
load is moved must be considered as well as the weight of
These engines are sold to work as above stated but it is proper
to say that either size will move twice the load given as right for
Thus the small machine will walk along with plows cutting 12
feet (ordinary plowing) and the large one with plows cutting 24
feet; and the small one will move 40 tons and the large one 80 tons
on wagons, but the continuous use of this excess of power, which is
absolutely necessary to make a plowing or pulling engine a success,
would be injudicious and unreasonable.
Of course it is plain that if the 40 horse engine should be
driven three miles per hour for a long day it would plow over 30
acres and the large one, handled in the same manner, would
accomplish 60 acres; but experience has shown that these
theoretical amounts are seldom or never accomplished.
A high class traction engine is, perhaps, the most perfect
machine to which steam has been applied and the work it will do is
almost endless in variety.
IT INCLUDES PLOWING, FREIGHTING ORE, COAL, GRAIN, ETC., LOGGING,
HARROWING, CULTIVATING WITH DISC HARROWS OR OTHER CULTIVATORS,
PULLING STUMPS AND RUNNING THRESHING MACHINES, SAW MILLS, PUMPS,
AND OTHER STATIONARY MACHINERY.
THE REASON FOR THE UNQUALIFIED SUCCESS OF THE JACOB PRICE
In a field where there had previously been nothing but failures,
may be briefly summarized as follows:
Great power in proportion to weight.
An enormous fire-box or furnace.
A boiler of nearly double the strength of any previously used in
traction engines, and of great steam generating capacity.
The use of very high, superheated steam (from 150 to 200 pounds
High piston speed, (saving in weight of engine and preventing
loss by condensation.)
Very high and wide carrying wheels, (of fully twice the bearing
surface in proportion to weight of any before used,) keeping the
machine on top of the ground.
The use of the best, simplest and most direct system of gearing,
made in the most perfect manner, each piece of which runs snugly
against a strong box (thus securing perfect alignment and avoiding
unfair strains on the teeth and preventing friction.)
The simplest form of construction possible and the use of steel
to the almost entire exclusion of other material, (resulting in a
machine that is very light in proportion to its power.)
These engines carry very much higher steam than ordinary
traction engines and therefore get a much greater amount of work
out of a gallon of water or a pound of coal. The enormous
advantages of high steam, (as exemplified in the modern steamship
and railroad locomotive) have not, until now, been made available
for threshing and farm work but it cannot be doubted that its
superiority and economy will be as great in this field, as in any
A VERY SIGNIFICANT AND IMPORTANT FACT
In connection with these engines must not be overlooked.
The weight of metal in them, per horse power, is about 250
pounds against about 750 pounds in the common traction. This
fact alone is sufficient to account for their success.
In making this engine the utmost effort was put forth to make
LIGHT IN PROPORTION TO ITS POWER.
Too little power and steam making capacity and too much weight
has been the almost fatal defect of pulling engines hitherto. The
builder of this machine has gone on the theory that a Field
Locomotive must be light and very powerful and have large wheel
surfaces so that it will stay on top of the ground and roll over
it, not consume half its power in pushing two or three ditches
through it in its progress.
THE OBEDIENCE AND ACTIVITY OF THESE MACHINES IS SOMETHING
At a touch of the link lever they will move forward or back, an
inch at a time if desired, or according to size of engine will walk
off with a train of common loaded wagons from 100 to 200 feet long
or with plows cutting from 6 to 12 feet.
Or, if required, they will roll across a plowed field, or other
ground as difficult, almost as fast as a man can run. They will go
slowly down the steepest hills, climb over shrubs and logs in
forests or lift themselves up an almost perpendicular bank eighteen
inches or more in height. The use of an upright boiler permits
these engines to ascend or descend grades of any inclination
without uncovering the crown sheet.
THE WORKMANSHIP OF THESE LOCOMOTIVES
Is of a very high character. The engines have piston valves
controlled by a very neat and perfect acting form of link motion.
The valves have spring packing rings (4 in each one) and never
leak. They are, as is well-known to engineers, perfectly balanced
and move as easily under 150 pounds pressure as under none.
The gearing has teeth of the most perfect form obtainable, much
of it being made from cut metal patterns.
The water tank of this machine is very large (500 gallons for
the larger and 300 for the smaller) and is built into and forms
part of the frame. It is located low so that it can be filled, by
gravity, from a wagon tank, in one or two minutes. This saves over
one hour per day, as it requires from 15 to 20 minutes to do this,
when the water has to be transferred with a pump or small hose.
The Jacob Price Field Locomotive for freighting, plowing or
other work will be sent to any part of the United States east of
the Rocky Mountains, warranted to work as represented in this
Payment for it must be deposited with the manufacturer, or with
third parties, previous to shipment. This will be promptly returned
if its work is not fully up to the representations.
A competent man will be sent from the factory to superintend the
starting and working of it for a few days and no charge will be
made for his services or expenses. All expenses of operating in
when on trial, and the freight to destination, must be paid by the
intending purchaser, and will not be refunded under any
Experience has shown that the purchaser is rarely, if ever,
ready to handle the machine to good advantage on its arrival. From
one to three weeks is required to familiarize the men with their
duties, to get the proper equipment of tools, etc., and to obtain a
prompt fuel and water supply, hence a large day’s work, at
first, is not practicable.
Therefore, it must not be expected that the person sent from the
factory will remain until the machine does a large day’s work,
but only until it has shown that it will do so when properly
When the engine shows that it will pull the plows, or do other
work as represented, maintains steam while doing so, stays in order
without serious breakage, travels as fast as stated, and in a
general way operates as represented in this circular, the duties of
the person sent from the factory will have been performed.
In case a machine fails to comply with the representations, it
must be returned to the most convenient railroad station and loaded
on a car at the expense of the party for whom the trial was
When an engine is sold under a special contract the provisions
thereof will, of course, take precedence of those of the above
Racine, Wis., U. S. A.