Charles Allen Bacon.

The Oliver plow book : a treatise on plows and plowing online

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to permit this vertical angle pull, while it is impossible
to construct a device that will turn all the earth to one
side and have enough resistance to keep the plow oper-
ating parallel to the furrow wall, particularly when
the side pull has a tendency to draw the rear of the
landside away from the furrow wall.


The last four furrows were turned with the plow out of adjustment.
Notice the ground is broken and pushed to one side. Compare this with
the rest of the plowed field with the plow in adjustment. This picture
furnishes the best of evidence that a plow should be in the correct line of
draft if the operator desires to do good wor^.

This fact brings up an interesting study of side draft,
because the results of such adjustments seem to be con-
trary to what one would expect. The reason for this
unexpected result lies in the fact that the draft bar
attachment from a tractor to the plow is rigid on the
plow and hinges to the tractor. Every man who has
operated a horse plow knows that to make a right-hand
plow take less land the horizontal hitch is moved to the
left of the center line of draft, and if he desires to take
more land he moves it to the right of the center of draft.
He also knows that the pivot point is on the clevis of the
plow and not on the shoulders of the horses which repre-
sent the center of power the same as the hitch on the
tractor, hence there is an entire reversal of the order of
hitch. One cannot expect to get the same results
because there is a vast difference in the application of


power; although the law that the draft line will
straighten itself is just as true.

A farmer can either separate his horses or bring
them closer together to approach more nearly the
straight line of draft. But the man who operates a
tractor has not this advantage. In order to approach
this line of draft, he must either run his tractor in the
furrow close to the furrow wall, or else permit of side
draft when plowing is difficult.

Everyone knows that it requires a certain amount of
effort to produce a given result. Figuring energy and result
as weight, we can readily see that it will require a given
weight in energy to produce a given weight in result.
Carrying this illustration a step farther we know that
it requires one hundred pounds weight to balance one
hundred pounds on a fulcrum between the weights an
equal distance from each. Naturally then, if the greater
weight is the tractor the result will show on the plow,
but if the greater weight is the plow, the result will show
on the tractor; and where the weight is more equally
divided the result shows on both.

Since the pressure against the mouldboard varies very
greatly in a given field, it should be apparent that when
the tractor begins to swerve to one side the plow is in a
hard condition of ground and naturally is exerting itself
to straighten the draft line by pulling the rear end of
the tractor around towards a point in the center draft
line. On the other hand, if the tractor is running
parallel to the plow wall and the plow is swerved to one
side it is plainly evident that the plowing conditions are
light. But in both instances the operator should know
that he is not approaching the draft line, and that the
plow and tractor are doing their utmost to observe this


law. The damage that is done to both the plow and
tractor cannot be estimated, but it should be plainly
evident that when the tractor is operating at its max-
imum capacity and the rear wheels are sliding toward
the furrow wall and the front wheels pointing to the
opposite direction on account of the operator trying to
keep the plow cutting full width, there must be
immense tortional stress on the tractor and tremendous
end thrust on both the front and rear axles that cause
the tractor to work harder than when the tractor is
pulling in a straight line of draft. As a matter of fact,
experiments have been made which show an increase of
power required from 15 to 25 per cent, to say nothing of
the damage done to the plow when the tractor produces
enough power to spring the plow out of shape.

Fig. 6 illustrates for all practical purposes a perfect
line of draft through the center of the plow and the
center of power on the tractor. The slight distance the
tractor is off center will not affect the working of the
plow. When the plow and tractor are adjusted to this
position the energy of the tractor is directed towards
pulling the plow straight ahead. There is no side force
of any kind to be overcome in the operation of the plow.
Naturally, the minimum power will be required to pull
the plow. The plow will do a perfect job. Neither
plow nor tractor will be subjected to side stress which
causes unnecessary wear, and oftentimes sudden break-

When it is necessary to hitch to one side the tractor
has to exert power enough to overcome the forces which
operate against this line when it deviates from the center
line of draft. This can easily be seen by Fig. 7. C is
the center of weight of the plow. A is the center of


power. AC then represents the line of draft which is
angular to EC, the force which should act to pull the
plow forward in the perfect line of draft, if the operator
desires to plow properly.

According to the laws of physics, AB and AE consti-
tute a parallelogram of force, hence the magnitude of
the forces AB and AE is proportional to their length.
In this diagram the proportion is 14 to 4.

Assuming it requires 540 pounds to operate the plow,
this means then that 420 pounds are required to pull
the plow straight ahead and 120 pounds to overcome
the side draft. It is perfectly plain then that the tractor
which is hitched to one side of the center line of draft in
this case is required to withstand a tortional stress of 120
pounds. It is also apparent that as the line BC is
placed closer to EA the proportion of forces becomes more
evenly divided.

For example, if the hitch between the tractor and
plow were shortened so that ABCE would form a square,
then force AE would be equal to force AB; that is, the
side draft would be increased to one half of 540 pounds.
In actual practice with such a hitch as this it would
require more than 540 pounds to pull the plow, because
the tractor would be operating at a tremendous dis-
advantage on account of the additional force tending to
pull the rear wheels of the tractor toward the line of
draft (which as has been explained previously in this
chapter will always straighten itself regardless of what
forces may be acting against it). Hence, it is evident
that the hitch on the tractor must be in a straight line
from the center of weight to the center of hitch on the
tractor if the minimum of power is required to pull the




The question at once arises as to why the plow will
not swerve around so that the line AFC takes the posi-
tion AC as one would naturally expect it to do if the
draft line is to straighten. The reason for this lies in
the draft rod brace GH which is solidly fastened to the
draft bar of the plow and the frame in front making a
rigid connection on the plow, thus bringing into play
another force which places the swivel point of hitch on
the tractor instead of on the plow. Naturally when the
tractor wheels begin to move towards the furrow wall
the front of the plow must move in the same direction.

Both the rear of the tractor and the front of the plow
would continue to move in this direction until the
opposing forces would neutralize each other, but both
the plow and tractor would be sadly out of shape.

Another observation from such a condition is that the
draft bar I, pulls on the plow and the draft bar brace,
GH, pushes, thus we have the two opposing forces, one
pulling ahead as it should and the other pushing back
as it should not.

It is plainly evident that undue stress is placed upon
all parts of the plow and that the brace, K, is utilized
not only to hold the plow beams the proper distance
apart, but is pushing the front beam and the parts at-
tached forward to offset the back pressure caused by the
draft bar brace, GH.

It is further apparent from Fig. 7, that the farther
ahead the tractor is hitched, the less will be the angle
of side pull. Then it follows that the only possible way to
lessen side draft when conditions will not warrant putting
the tractor into the true line of draft is to lengthen the
hitch between the plow and the tractor.




This discussion, of course, assumes that the plow is in
perfect working condition. Before one attempts to
make adjustments he must know that the plow will
respond or his efforts will be futile. Always see that
the shares are sharp, with proper suck and wing, all the
bottoms are scouring, bolts are tight, and levers working
easily before attempting to make final hitch adjustments.


Adjusting Horse Plows

A WALK ING plow is the simplest form of plows.
It does the best of work when properly hitched
and causes the operator the utmost grief if the draft
line between the horses and the plow is incorrect.

The law that applies to the draft of tractor plows is
the same for walking plows, but the application is radical-
ly different because the center of power upon horse drawn
plows is the point equal in height to the average point
on the shoulders where the tugs are fastened to the hames
and midway between the outside horses. The draft line
between the center of draft of the plow and this point
will always straighten. The center of draft of either
a walking or wheel plow is exactly the same as
that on the tractor plow discussed in the third paragraph
in the chapter "The Tractor Plow Hitch."

Because this draft line straightens, the depth adjust-
ments can be made with the clevis on the front beam.
Whenever it is desired to cut deeper the clevis is raised
and when it is desired to plow shallow the clevis is
always lowered. If it is desired on a right-hand plow to
take more land the clevis is placed to the right, and to
the left to take less land. Of course, these two adjust-
ments are opposite if a left-hand plow is being used.

All these adjustments are made to keep that draft
line straight at the depth and width desired to plow.


The walking plow is a very good example of the fact
that an implement does not require a pole to make neck-

The reason why sore shoulders, back, and hips are
prevalent when using a plow with or without a pole is
because the traces are not in a straight line from the
point where the tugs fasten to the hames on the shoulders
through to the center of draft on the plow. When a
horse has a sore neck on top one raises the tugs at the
back band. This is evidence enough that plowmen
practice this principle whether they know it or not.
The further fact that raising a tug at the back band
often makes the back sore is positive proof that we are
playing around the straight line of draft. How much
better it would be after the plow has been adjusted to
the depth one desires to plow to see that the hip straps
are loose and that there is no downward pull on the
back band, no upward pull on the belly band, no chok-
ing at the collar and no bearing down on top the neck.

It is necessary in walking plows more than wheel
plows to have the shares absolutely correct before any
kind of adjustments can be made. Where the weight
of the bottoms is carried on wheels, the work of
an incorrectly shaped share does not show up in a wheel
plow so quickly as in a walking plow. For this reason
if the operator makes all the adjustments in the clevis
that can be made and the plow does not respond to the
adjustments it is plainly evident that something is wrong
with the share or some part of the plow is sprung out of
shape. It is reasonable to assume that by far the
greatest number of times this trouble will be in the share.
It is necessary to have a thorough understanding of the
setting of a share on a walking plow before one knows





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When hitching two horses to a sulky plow it is better to spread them
apart. It gives the advantage of having fresh air circulating around
them so that they can work to good advantage as well as to give the plow
the advantage of wording in the true line of draft. A thorough under-
standing of the draft line of plows will save a great deal of plowing
trouble which is unnecessary.

whether he can adjust the plow as he desires it to run.
The setting of the share is discussed in Chapter XV.

When two horses are hitched abreast the effect is
equivalent to hitching two forces, one on each side of
this theoretical center line of draft. That is, an equal
force is operating on each side of the center of weight of
the plow. These horses must be hitched so that the
leverage is the same for both, otherwise one of the horses
will be doing the greater amount of work. The closer
one adheres to this theory the more necessary it becomes
to regulate the width of singletrees and doubletrees in
accordance with the size of the teams.


Every few years plow manufacturers change the
angle of the beam in relation to the furrow simply
because of the lack of knowledge of this one funda-
mental part in hitching to walking plows.

If a walking plow cuts 14" the point where the double-
tree is attached to the plow must be immediately in
front of the landside, which is 21" to the center of the
previous furrow. This would make a doubletree with
the two outside holes 42" apart.

To pull the plow straight forward the efforts of the
two horses combined must make a straight line parallel
with the furrow wall the width the plow bottom is
cutting. If the clevis pin is too far to the right of this
imaginary line the plow bottom of a right-hand plow will
immediately begin to move to the left until this line is
straight. This is the reason why the plow takes more

Obviously if the clevis pin is hitched too far to the
left of this center the plow will take less land.

When a walking plow is properly adjusted it can be operated without
the operator holding to the handles. The test of a man's ability to
adjust a walking plow and sharpen the share is to make that plow
operate correctly without holding the handles.


If the horses are hitched tandem a somewhat different
result takes place. That is, the center of power is an
imaginary point half-way between the tug staples on the
hames of the front team and the rear team. This
requires a different adjustment on the clevis of the plow
if the same depth of plowing is desired. When three
horses are hitched abreast it is obvious, on account of the
size of the horses and the narrow furrow being turned,
that the center of hitch cannot apply to the center of
draft of the plow. It must be moved to the left of the
clevis in order to give the horses an opportunity to work.

Middle Breakers

OTRANGE as it may seem, the middle breaker is
^ extremely useful for very wet and very dry ground.
In wet ground the ridges made by the middle breaker
dry out, giving the air an opportunity to mingle with
the moisture in the ground in the right proportion for
plant food development. Oftentimes the water level in
the ground is close enough to the surface to keep a seed
bed unduly wet. These ridges give the air and heat from
the sun a chance to dry out the ground rapidly enough
to develop plant food for the growing plants.

The lister is used most extensively in those regions
where the soil is light and sandy and the evaporation of
moisture is excessive, and in those parts of the country
where the plowing season is short.

Listing prevents the soil from blowing and enables the
crop to withstand the drought of the semi-arid climates.
The roots work deeper into the soil, the surface of which
is exceedingly warm. This places them in contact with
more moisture.

Larger acreages can be handled when put in with a
lister because of the elimination of a great part of the
labor of seed bed preparation. The lister prepares the
ground at one operation, taking the place of plowing,
disking, harrowing, and packing. This is a great incen-
tive to the use of the lister.

The lister is useful in a climate which is exceedingly
wet early in the spring and dry during the growing
season. The use of the lister eliminates much early
spring plowing, but permits the farmer to get onto the
field and plant a considerable acreage without any pre-
vious soil preparation.


Farmers in those localities where there is deficiency in
moisture are forced to farm more acres to grow the same
amount of crop. In other words, they must secure their
rainfall by spreading out since they cannot depend upon
a great depth of precipitation. Here listing as a labor
saver is a very material consideration.

Listing is practiced in two ways. In some sections it is
the sole method for putting in corn and in other regions
it supplements checking and drilling. The farmer does
what early spring plowing he finds to do since fall plow-
ing for corn is not generally followed in those sections.
When the rainfall is excessive in the planting season it
often happens that only a small part of the proposed
acreage of corn has been prepared for planting. In such
cases the general practice is to list the wheat stubble and
corn land with a two-row lister completing planting in a
very short time. While listing is not adapted to a wet
growing season, it is very useful when the early spring is
exceedingly wet and the summer dry.

In communities where listing is practiced there is
always more or less discussion in regard to the effect
listing has upon the seed bed. The objection is often
heard that listing leaves hard ridges throughout the field
which subsequently become baked and leave the soil in
bad texture. This is true when listing on clay and clay
loam soils. On light, sandy soils this objection is not a
serious one.

A twenty years' observation of fields which have been
listed every other year shows that those soils which are
adapted to the practice are exceedingly mellow and no
bad effects have been found in the ridging of the soil.
Here the practice has been to list at right angles to the
last listing.

Another objection to listing often raised is that if the
season is wet the soil in the furrow will bake and crust
over so that the corn cannot break through. Here the




objection is unfounded where listing has been practiced
on the kind of soil for which it is intended. Baking so
that the corn cannot break through has not been observed
in the light sandy soils. There have been some very sad
experiences with listing on heavy packing soil.

When the field has been listed and properly tended so
that the last cultivation levels the ridges it has prac-
tically the same kind of surface as checked corn. There-
fore the customary rotation of small grain and corn can
be practiced to advantage. The prevalent method of
putting in the small grain crop is to disk the field which
was previously in corn in the early spring. Where the
cultivating has been properly done and the ridges
entirely leveled no difficulty is encountered in seeding
the spring grain in the cornstalk field.

To be brief, the advantages of listing are as follows:

1 . The prevention from blowing of light soils due to the
ridges of the field.

2. The saving of moisture and the use of more sub-
soil moisture by putting the roots deeper into the ground.

3. The saving of labor in the early spring.

4. Permitting a larger acreage than would otherwise
be possible since it supplements planting in ridges where
moisture conditions are difficult.

The middle breaker or "lister" is a combination of a
right-hand and a left-hand plow bottom without the
landside, the object being to throw the dirt to turn a
furrow slice in both directions. This construction per-
mits one mouldboard to act as a landside to the other,
however, in the uses to which the middle breaker is put
there is often greater pressure against one of the mould-
boards than the other. This would naturally cause the
entire bottom to swerve towards the side of least resist-
ance until the pressure against each mouldboard would
be equalized. To offset this a steel rudder is placed
midway between the two bottoms to penetrate into the
ground to keep the bottom operating in a true line of
draft when these unequal conditions are encountered.









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Disk Plows

THE disk plow has altogether a different effect upon
the ground than the mouldboard plow. The mould-
board plow turns the earth with a crunching, pinching,
pulverizing motion while the disk plow turns the earth
with a rolling motion. Naturally the earth turned with
a disk plow will have more clods and larger ones than
when turned with a mouldboard plow. The scrapers
aid the disks very materially in covering trash and reduc-
ing the size of the clods.

Oftentimes ground becomes too dry to be successfully
turned with a mouldboard plow. Primarily the disk
plow was designed for turning soils in this dry, hard
condition. It becomes apparent at once that such a
plow can be used to good advantage in localities where
fall sown crops are to be planted and the summer rain-
fall is apt to be scant. The rolling motion of the disk
turning the furrow leaves the ground in a looser condi-
tion than a mouldboard plow, hence it better absorbs
the rainfall that may come before the time of planting.
For this reason there are plenty of farms on which both
disk and mouldboard plows can be profitably operated
in the season better adapted to their use.

The disk plows are in common use in gumbo, hardpan
and black waxy soils where mouldboard plows will not


A disk plow can be set to work in any type of soil but
wherever a mouldboard plow operates it is better to use
a mouldboard plow because it does a superior quality of
pulverizing. The disk plow will not turn so good a
furrow in a light sandy soil as a mouldboard plow will,
neither does it work so well as a mouldboard plow in
plowing weedy stubblefields or grasslands where mould-
board plows scour.

Dry plowing has been interesting farmers a great deal.
The conclusion reached from the plowing of dry ground
in the hot summer is that the evaporation of moisture
from the sub-soil is greatly lessened and the land derives
much greater benefit from driving rains. That is, more
of the rainfall sinks into the ground. The weeds also
get an earlier start, providing there is sufficient moisture
in the ground, thus giving a better opportunity to kill
them with a disk before sowing time. Earlier sow-
ing also results. This has proved to be of special
benefit in those localities where it is necessary for
the crop to have a good start before the winter's
freezing sets in. It has been proven many times that
dry plowing immediately following the harvest is the
means whereby a crop is made possible where other-
wise none could be grown. This dry condition nearly
always takes place on soil that cannot be plowed while
hard and dry with a mouldboard plow.

The disk plow will handle very gravelly soil where a
mouldboard plow cannot work. The principal reason
for this is that the disk plow does not cut so wide a
furrow as the mouldboard. The gravel in these narrow
furrows is separated with the rolling motion of the disk
much more effectively than can be done with the crunch-
ing, pulverizing action of the mouldboard. Another



Tractor disk plow showing the way the disk plow turns the soil and
also that a straight furrow can be turned with one of these implements.

advantage of the disk plow in this type of plowing is
that when it is desired to do deep plowing better results
can be secured by having each disk cut a narrow slice.


Three disks equally spaced to cut 24" wide will naturally
do better work than two disks spaced to cut 24" wide.

Many insect pests of which the grasshopper is the
most common can be successfully fought with the disk
plow because of its qualities for turning hard ground.

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Online LibraryCharles Allen BaconThe Oliver plow book : a treatise on plows and plowing → online text (page 9 of 10)