Plowing Preview

An Insider's Look at Rollag's 2003 Oil Pull Plowing Demonstration

| January/February 2004

Every Labor Day weekend since 1953, the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion Show has been held at Rollag, Minn. 2003 was the show's 50th anniversary, and in celebration the club held a couple of special '50' activities.

50-Bottom Pull

The most notable activity was the impressive 50-bottom plowing demonstration, modeled after the famous 1911 plow test at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind. Three Rumely Model E 30-60 OilPulls pulled an Oliver 50-bottom plow in that memorable event, and it provided the M. Rumely Co. with more than a little publicity.

Two years before the show's golden anniversary, club members were sitting around discussing what they should do to mark the event. Jerry Mandt, Wahpeton, N.D., put forward the idea of recreating the famous 50-bottom plowing demonstration, and it took off from there.

Wanting the re-creation to be true to the original, club members decided to locate three Model E 30-60 Rumely Oil Pull tractors, as used in the original trial, for the pull. However, Oliver plows of the type used in the original trial are hard to find these days, so they opted to substitute John Deere gangplows, instead. The Oil Pulls used in the recreation belong to Dennis Powers, Ogden, Iowa; Murray Johnson, Langruth, Manitoba, Canada; and Kenney Kass, Dunkerton, Iowa.

The individual plows were chained to the main beam, which was made from 66 feet of 7-inch-square, 1/4-inch-thick steel. To keep it all working together 233 feet of chain was looped through 13 pulleys: two on each of the Oil Pulls and seven on the beam.

After two practice turns the plows were dropped in the ground. Note the signs on the Oil Pull canopies, duplicates of those used in the 1911 demonstration.