STEAM PLOWING 45 YEARS AGO

1 / 2
Courtesy of A. M. King, R. D. 1, Dillsburg, Pennsylvania.
2 / 2
Tracking for the Pennsylvania Railroad at Oil City, Pa., in 1926. Owned and operated by A. M. King, R. D. 1, Dillsburg, Pa.

Spokane Washington

I did my first plowing with a 35 hp. Double Nichols &
Shepard engine. In 1908 at Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, I pulled a
12 bottom Cockshutt plow along with discs and harrows and I wish to
say that as a plow engine this one was a real lemon. It was areal
good steamer and had plenty of power but the gears were never made
for plowing. About every ten days we would have to put in new
defferential opinions of a clutch spider or some other gear or part
that was not built to stand the heavy work of plowing.

Highway work before the days of trucks. Erie steam shovel at
work near New Cumberland, Pa., 1923.

My second plow engine was a 32 hp. double simple Reeves and this
engine was a honey. Although not as easy on coal and water as the
32 cross compound, the Reeves was really built for plowing and
hauling. It was equipped with ample water tanks and coal bunkers
and had no unnecessary spur gear to get out of line. During my 22
years as a traction engineer I operated 5 different Reeves engines
and every one of them were great on the draw bar, all were good
steamers and very economical to operate. I say without prejudice
that the Reeves topped the field for plowing. In those years in
Canada I saw many engines perform in the fields when we would visit
other plowing outfits and here are some of the different makes and
faults I would find with them. Take the Case 110 hp. Simple: boiler
too small, steam dome too small and low. This caused the big Case
to prime easily and if the water was very bad you would have to
drain and wash the boiler 3 or 4 times each week. It did not have
large enough water tanks to carry it the 2 mile round that was
necessary when plowing a 640 acre field like we had up there. I
owned one of these 110 Case outfits so I know what I am talking
about, but this 110 and the 25-75 and 28-80 that I operated in 1914
and later were all good steamers and easy on fuel.

In 1915, 16 and 19, I did over 2,000 acres of stubble plowing
with a 28-80 Canadian Special Case engine and I pulled 10 plows and
harrow with it. In my book of engines this was the best steam
engine turned out by the Case Company. I operated this engine in
the falls of 1915, 16, 19, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27 and my salary
was $10.00 a day. The average run was 32 days of threshing.

To get away from plow engines I will thresh awhile and for this
I am going to pick as my favorite threshing engine a 30 hp. single
simple Advance and a Rumley 40×64 Ideal separator equipped with
Ruth self-feeder and Hart grain weigher. This is the simplest steam
engine and the smoothest running separator ever built. In knocking
around the Dakotas in my 22 seasons, I had occasions to belt up to
a 44×72 Avery; a 40×63 Reeves; a 40×64 N & S; a 40×62
Minneapolis; a 40×60 Case. I have also pitched grain bundles into
an Aultman-Taylor, Gaar Scott, Buffalo Pitts, Advance and the
Russell but none of these machines compared to the Rumley
Ideal.

I hope you will print this article when you have space in the
ALBUM as I like to hear others spout off about their ‘pets’
and ‘peeves’. I’ve got my pressure down now so will
bank the fire and call it a day for this time.

Find check for two dollars for renewal of ALBUM. Certainly do
not want to miss any of the copies. Am sending you a few snapshots
of some old time steam machinery. I operated thresher engines when
a young man but operated large steam shovels for a number of years.
When steam dissappeared I quit operating but still love to see and
hear one running. Your ALBUM is a wonderful paper and brings back
old memories. Keep up the good work.

A. M. KING R. D. 1, Dillsburg, Pa.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment