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AS I SAW IT CHAPTER 30

Author Photo
By Rolland Maxwell | Nov 1, 1976

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Standard Cream Separator engine.
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Route 4, Huntington, Indiana 46750

In reading over some old Pennsylvania Farmers I ran across an
interesting series of arguments on plows. One side said left hand
plows were the best and, of course, the other side promoted right
plows. Why the two different plows were made was not completely
solved, but as all plows were made by local blacksmiths or small
one horse factories who made plows for the neighbor only; and in
one locality made right hand and another made left hand, so it
depended where you lived. I was raised in central Illinois and all
plows were left hand until the event of tractor plows. I never saw
a right hand plow until came across one at a farm sale where the
owner had come from Tennessee. During World War I the manufacturers
got together and decided to make right plows only to save on
material for added duplication.

We used walking plows, three horse sulkey plows, two and three
bottom gang plows, using four to eight horses, usually six head of
horses or mules on a two bottom gang. Three horses were hitched on
the tongue and three hitched in front of them tandem. This was an
ideal hitch and overcame side draughts, etc. There was a great
number of makes of plows as a great number of companies were making
horse drawn implements of all kinds. In 1797 Charles Newbold of
Burlington, New Jersey made the first cast iron plow, but this plow
never became popular because farmers thought the cast iron poisoned
the ground and stimulated weed growth. The first good light weight
as cast iron plow was made by Jethro Wood in 1814. Those plows
worked good in the eastern states where the soil was sandy, gravely
or where they would scour easily.

In the middle west these plows would not scour in the light
prairie soils. Steel plows were first made by Major Andrus in
partnership with John Deere.

Then came Parli and Orendorf better known as P and Q whom in
later years sold out to the International Harvester and that gave
them a plow to add to their line of implements. The Oliver Plow
Company of South Bend, Indiana became one of the most popular plow
companies.

Any number of companies could be mentioned. There used to be a
number of plowing matches like The Big Rock and Wheatland in
northern Illinois. Plowmanship was the art of plowing regardless of
the plow or the ground condition. As I ride across the country I
seldom see a real good job of plowing unless its on stubble or bean
ground. Plowing under a heavy coat of corn stalks is another
matter. There is a lack of pride in plowing any more and the larger
the farm, the poorer the quality of plowing.

When plows were made for cast iron plow with only two
exceptions, they were all right hand. Most plows were Oliver, P and
O, Grand Detour, LeCoosr, Janesville, Burch, and later John
Deere.

A Lenz tractor owned by Norman Pross, Luverne, North Dakota.
Shown at New Rockford, North Dakota Show. I’ve forgotten the
size but am sure it was a 5 or 6 bottom tractor, one cylinder, two
cycle diesel. A very economical tractor to use.In the early days of
tractor demonstrations the P and O and grand Detour had a chain
lift on the land wheel. The first Oliver, the clutch was on the
furrow wheel. The moldboards on all early plows were good; that is
they were abrupt and turned the furrow slice over and pulverized it
up at the same time and left the ground smooth. Today’s plows,
especially the 16′ and 18′ just throw it over in a slab and
don’t pulverize as good plows do. Much of this depends on
ground condition.

The Janesville Plow Company of Janesville, Wisconsin was a small
company making high class machinery in the early day. I remember
their horse drawn plows nearly always won the Big Rock and
Wheatland plowing contest. I can still see those well pulverized
furrows and everything covered and in order – Yes plowing was once
an Art. Now scientists tell us today we don’t need to plow,
just chisel plow. Maybe so, I won’t argue with what a lot are
doing, but they will have to plow once in a while to cover the
trash.

I remember when I was a student at the University of Illinois,
one of the only worthwhile things that happened to me there was
they sent me out to the field with a 10-20 Titan tractor and a
three bottom Burch plow, that they had tampered with and I was to
plow. Of course, we had learned how plows were supposed to run
beforehand.

Incidentally, that was a real good plow, and the company is
still in business at Evansville, Indiana making such things as no
till planters, ridgers, heavy disks etc. Back in those days plows
were not so expensive, and I have heard of salesmen who in their
zeal to close a tractor sale would just throw in a plow.

Now plows made for the northwest were another thing. Mostly from
8 to 20 bottoms. The old 30-60 Hart Parr would plow from 8 to 10
bottoms depending upon the soil. At the museum at Saskatoon,
Saskatchewan there is a 20 bottom plow once used behind a 110 horse
Case steam engine. If they were plowing sod for the first time they
would use breaker bottoms and they would turn the sid with kinking
it, lay it over smooth.

In those days furrows were measured in miles and not rods. I
talked with a man once in Manitoba who said he drove a Minnesota
Universal with a 4 bottom plow from

the time the frost came out until it froze up in November. The
Furrows were 4 miles long. Yes, those were the days when one
worried about getting home for supper on time. In those days they
only plowed about 4′ deep, just to cover the stubble and make a
sort of seed bed. I’ve heard it told in North Dakota back in
the twenties how they hitched a binder along side of a 6 bottom
plow. The binder kicked the bundles over on the plowed ground where
they were shocked. They had to use a 4 horse team on the bundle
wagon at threshing time. Thus the binding and plowing were done all
at once. Things were always done in a big way in the northwest.

DeLaval Alpha Jr. 2 HP or Lauson Frost King Jr. 1916. The engine
was made by Lauson and sold under the DeLaval name.

My Domestic 1? HP type A gasoline engine serial #9374 hit and
miss system. 4′ bore x 4′ stroke 50 cubic inch
displacement. 18′ flywheels, 500 lbs. Made by the Domestic
Engine & Pump Co., Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. Restored by
Donald E. Becker, Myerstown, Pennsylvania. It is an excellent
running engine. Courtesy of Donald Kramer, R. D. 1, Box 40,
Hereford, Pennsylvania 18056.

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