706 South Birch, Urbana, Illinois 61801
Having been raised on a large central Illinois grain farm, I have never forgotten the pleasure of turning over the good earth with the steel moldboard plow. The things that I remember about plowing were -the gleaming moldboards in the sunlight, the smell of the freshly turned earth, the sun rising and setting on the seemingly never ending furrow, and, of course, the deep throated throb of a well tuned engine. Leaving the farm for the city made this pleasurable task just a boyhood rememberance until this past year. New interest was kindled in the history of plowing and the equipment involved when my family and I purchased an 80 HP Case, buttstrap plowing engine. The Case engine had been set up with dual rear wheels for plowing purposes by the former owner, Mr. Peter Burno, of Wisconsin.
Now to get to the purpose of this article. With the purchase of the 80 HP Case, I began to think back about a plow that I had discovered some ten years earlier. I immediately contacted the owner, Mr. Glenn Jordan of R. R. Villa Grove, Illinois. Mr. Jordan informed me that he still had the plow and that I was welcome to look at it.
My son, Rick, and I immediately drove to the Jordan farm and were confronted by a pretty grim scene. Mr. Jordan and his father had backed the plow up behind a tool shed sometime in the 1920's and Mother Nature had decided to reclaim this soil severing demon for her own. The only disturbance the plow had received in the past years was in the 40's when the war stripped her of her cutters, moldboards, moldboard arms and one depth wheel.
Upon cutting back the trees, bushes and vegetation, it was discovered that the plow was a 6 bottom, automatic lift model made exclusively for the Case Company, Racine, Wisconson by the Satterly Company of Springfield, Illinois. Mr. Jordan explained that they had bought the plow new in 1912 along with a large Case tractor which was later junked. After deciding that we did want the plow and agreeing upon a price, Rick and I began to combat Mother Nature's hold on the different parts of the plow.
After severing all seven trees and vegetation in the following two weekends, all three main wheels were dug loose, as the whole plow had sunk exactly one foot in the ground. Each wheel was jacked up, freed, and then oiled so that the initial pulling out would be easier. We hooked Mr. Jordan's U Minneapolis tractor to the plow and began to tighten the chain. The most awful sounds of roots snapping, dirt flying, dry steel screeching and the tractor roaring suddenly gave way to the sounds of smooth movement and the plow emerged from the thicket as would a huge monster in a horror film. The plow was luckily in an out of the ground position and measured approximately 14 foot wide and 20 foot long.
The plow is unique in that it operates on a camshaft principle which raises and lowers each bottom independently. The automatic lift is driven by the back spiked wheel which drives the roller chain to the front wheel where the lever for engagement is located. The plow also had a wooden platform so that a person riding the plow could lower and raise each bottom independently for depth control. The plow is the heavy duty model and when complete would probably weigh one ton or more.
We would appreciate any assistance that some of the readers of your magazine might be able to give us in securing the missing parts for this plow so that this fine example of American ingenuity can once again turn over the soil in its graceful manner.