Gas Engine Is a Faithful Farm Worker

A gas engine

A gas engine furnishes the power for this spray outfit.

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It Does Everything a Hired Man Can Do ExceptBut Read the Last Sentence of  This Article

This article is reprinted from Farm Mechanics magazine, September 1929 issue. It was sent to us by Ben H. Swadley, Director, Plantation Agriculture Museum, P.O. Box 87, Scott, Arkansas 72142.

In spite of increasing competition from other sources of power during the last few years, the gas engine is still the most popular power unit for a host of jobs on thousands of farms.

The gas engine was the first form of mechanical power to relieve the housewife of many heavy, back breaking tasks and much tiresome drudgery. To the housewife, the gas engine is a true and loyal friend. Labor saving implements and machinery for farm and field work have made many jobs much easier for the men, but until the coming of the gas engine, their wives seldom shared the full advantages of this progress.

The little gas-operated friend of the family chugs away merrily at all sorts of work, inside and outside, practically every day of the year. It is not difficult to think of 20 or 25 farm jobs which can be done with gasoline engine power, and for only a few cents per hour of work.

Time was when the gasoline engine had a reputation of being somewhat unreliable and hard to start, particularly in cold or stormy weather. Improvements in ignition systems and in general design have changed all this. The present day engine is not difficult to start, a fact which is appreciated by women and youngsters. It is said by some that the women folks often make better gasoline engine operators than men because they are generally more willing to study and follow the manufacturer's directions.

When a gasoline engine or any other form of power can be harnessed to the water pump and made to supply running water in the home, it relieves the housewife of one of her hardest tasks. Practically any woman who is familiar with the advantages of running water will say that it is her greatest home convenience. Next to power for her water system, she will say that power to operate her washing machine and wringer is the greatest labor saver in her home. If the small gas engine could be used for nothing but pumping water and washing, these jobs alone would supply teason enough for its existence.

These two tasks are only starters, however, for the ordinary farm engine and most of the work it does relieves somebody of tiresome hand labor.

Some time ago, figures were compiled to show the amount of work that could be done with five cents' worth of gasoline and a gas engine. It was found that a nickel's worth of gas would do any one of the following:

Grind 12 bushels of feed Pump 6,000 gallons of water Separate 8,000 pounds of milk and do it at a desirable, uniform speed Shell 50 bushels of corn Cut two tons of ensilage Saw two cords of wood Churn 400 pounds of butter Bale a ton of hay Clean 60 bushels of seed wheat Light up the farm for four hours Do two weekly washings for the family Grind the mower knives for a season Shear 75 sheep Elevate 500 bushels of corn Mix 222 cubic feet of concrete

For sawing large logs too heavy for the buzz saw, the gas engine can be attached to a cross-cut saw similar to those operated by two men. With a gas engine outfit two operators are able to saw a log up into several pieces while two other men with a hand saw are worrying about how hard the job is going to be. If the operators are careful to avoid pinching of the saw blade, the engine driven saw eats through a large log like a tramp goes after a ham sandwich, and the final results are similar. If the log threatens to roll with the saw as it becomes shorter, some operators leave a small portion of the log unsawed between the last three or four sections and finish the job later with a hand saw.

One excellent way to relieve the old back of considerable wear and tear during the fall and winter is to hook the gas engine to a wood saw. A gas engine and a buzz saw will do more work in a half day than a man can do in several days with a hand saw, and the cost of operating is negligible. No very large amount of wood sawing is necessary to make this kind of an outfit pay, particularly if a fellow figures his back worth anything.

Operating a post hole digger is another interesting use, for the engine's spare moments. Temporary fences are a great aid to the livestock farmer who wishes to hog down corn, rotate pastures, etc., and the engine driven digger helps him to speed up the work of putting them in.

During the winter months a gas engine can be made a great convenience in the farm shop. Attached to a grindstone or an emery wheel, grinding axes becomes a simpler matter, as does the grinding of mower sickles for spring and other grinding jobs. Other farm shop uses of the engine are many and varied. The writer saw a concrete mixer last winter which was being used to mix feed for poultry.

Power by hay hoists are becoming more popular because they conserve time during the busy haying season when time is valuable. With a mechanical hoist, the horse or horses used on the fork can be sent to the field, as can the boy who leads or drives them. The man unloading can operate the hoist from his rack, unloading swiftly and easily. Four horse power is generally considered enough for this work but five or six horse power is not too much.

Another duty of the gas engine which is increasing in importance is the operation of lawn mowers. Power lawn mowers seem to be coming in, judging from the number going into use. For use on country estates, cemeteries, around farm homes, or wherever there is considerable mowing to be donein all these instances, the light weight power lawn mower fills a distinct need.

During the winter months, it is of course desirable to keep the engine under cover and indoors whenever possible. An engine kept in a warm place is always easier to start and more pleasant  to work around. Cold weather congeals the oil on the bearings and around the piston and valves, and also hinders the evaporation of gasoline. With a little hot water in the cooling system and a little priming, the present day engine should not be hard to start, even when the weather is cold or wet.

Only a few of the uses for gas engines have been mentioned above. It is interesting to drive down a country road and take note of the various gas engine setups from place to place. One man operates a milking machine, another pumps water to cool his milk, another runs a grain elevator or a farm light plant, and so on. In some sections the engine pumps water for irrigating purposes. Grain binders, corn binders and rice binders are sometimes equipped with auxiliary engines and occasionally, somebody will be freezing ice cream with one. Someone has said that the gas engine will do anything the hired man will except take the hired girl to town on Saturday night.

Ben Swadley, who sent us this article, writes, 'I think too often gas engine collection gets so wrapped up in restoration and mechanical concerns. . .old articles like this serve to remind us all of the practicality and everyday uses of gas engines on the farm.'