Gas Engine Is a Faithful Farm Worker

By Staff
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A gas engine furnishes the power for this spray outfit.
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This young man is finding for himself that the gas engine will run when it rains.
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Cuts the hard work of washing.
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Saws the wood.
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Mixes concrete.
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Operates the mechanism of the potato digger.
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Operates the elevator in the corn crib.
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Furnishes the power for the pump jack.
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Cover of magazine from which the article is reprinted.

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

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

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

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