STEAM PLOWING. The cultivation of the earth, both as respects the cultivation before, and subsequent to plowing has for many years QCCU pied the attention of the best agricultural invent lye talent both in England and the United States. The solution of the problem has been fairly ac complished in England, so that plowing, as well as some of the processes of subsequent cultiva tion, has become an economical fixture, where the nature of the land, and peculiar conditions required to be brought about, might be fairly met by the agency of steam. In the United States, although our abundant prairies are ad mirably adapted to steam cultivation, no ma chine has yet been brought out that could suc cessfully compete with horse power, partly from the fact that it requires skill not possessed by the ordinary farm hand to run the engine and operate the machinery, but principally because our soil is so easily plowed, not requiring to be worked to the depth at which the steam machines are most economically worked. Nevertheless, it is certain that before many years certain crops may be economically prepared for by means of the steam plow. Therefore something of the history of steam plows, and steam plowing will be per tinent. The history of attempts to introduce the use of steam in cultivating the soil, is really of considerahle antiquity. The sixth patent granted in England, and the first in which the power of steam was sought to be used in culti vating the soil, was January seventeenth, 1618, over 250 years ago, and was originally described as follows: Newe, apte, or compendious formes or kinde of engines or instrumente and other pfitable inventions, wayes and means for the goode of our commonwealth,as well as to ploughe grounde without horse or oxen, and to enrich and make better and more fertill as well barren peate, salte and sea sande, as inland and upland grounde within our kingdomes of England and Ireland, and our domynyon of Wales, as also to rayse waters from anye Lowe place to highe places for well watering of cittyes, towns, noblemen's and gentlemen's houses, and other places nowe much wanting water, with Jesse charges than ever hath bene heretofore; and to make boatel for the carryage of burthens and passengers runn upon the water as swifte in calmer, and more saff in stormes, than boate full sayled in greate wynes. The history of steam plowing has been written by Prof. Brainard, Examiner in the United States Patent Office, up to the year 1865. From it we extract the salient points: The haul ing plow, so called because the engine that ope rates the plow is placed upon one side of the field, and moves along a headland; the plows, gener ally a gang with two sets, turn furrows in the same direction in moving hack and forth over i the field. Upon the opposite side of the field is placed a movable capstan or windlass, which is moved forward upon a headland, and the plows are drawn back and forth by means of wire ropes or chains, as shown on page 747. At each set of furrows the engine is moved forward upon the headland upon one side of the field, and the cap stan upon the other, the width of a set of fur rows, when the plows are drawn again across the field. This method of cultivating or work ing the land by steam power, was first patented in the United States by E. C. Bellinger, of South Carolina, November 19, 1833, but from some cause the invention never went into general use. About the year 1854 John Fowler, of England, improved upon this general plan of Bellinger's, and was so far successful that a number of machines were put in operation. In 1856 and 1857 Fowler took out patents in the United States for his improvements, but up to this date but two of them have been brought into use in this country. As a special encouragement, Congress was induced to pass a bill allowing the intro duction of steam plows free of duty. Another method of steam culture has been attempted, in which the engines are designed to travel over the field, drawing the plows behind them, usually in gangs, and many patents have been granted for alleged improvements in this mode of Among the earlier of these adventurers may be named Henry Corning, 1850; David Russell, 1855; Judd Stevens, 1858; J. D. Hoviell, 1859; B. Crawford, 1857, and many others. Their efforts at improvement have been directed chiefly to the construction of an engine that was capable of traversing the field, and drawing a gang of plows; but hitherto insurmountable difficulties have been experienced. It has not been found impracticable to construct an engine capable of running over a common road, but in a cultivated field, where the soil is soft and yielding, it has been found that nearly the entire power of the engine has been expended in its own propulsion, and hence its inability to overcome the resistance of the plows. The cause of the failure of trac tion engines to perform their work in plowing can be explained upon the following hypothesis: We will suppose that an engine of ten-horse power, fully equipped for the field, will weigh eight tons. If it has four driving wheels one foot tread each, there will be forty-eight inches of effective contact with the earth. Now, a sin gle furrow, twelve inches wide and ten inches deep, will present a resisting surface of 120 square inches; consequently the resistance, even with a single plow, would be greater than the applied traction power of the engine. But a team of ten pairs of oxen would be able to turn a furrow of prairie turf of the width and depth named, say at the rate of an acre a day for a single plow. Ten pairs of oxen would be equal to a ten-horse power engine, and their united weight, when fitted for service, would equal that of the engine—say eight tons. The foot of an ox has an effective contact with the earth of about eight inches, and we may safely estimate that one-half the number of feet while under draft will be constantly in contact with the earth; hence we have 40 x 8 = 320 inches; that is, the eight tons' weight of the team is distributed over a surface of 320 inches of contact of balance against 120 inches of resistance in the furrow. An acre of land contains 43,560 square feet. A team turning a single furrow twelve inches wide and ten inches deep will, upon an average, travel one mile in an hour. A furrow one mile long and twelve inches wide contains 5,280 square feet of surface, and hence it follows that the distance traveled by a team in plowing one acre with a width of furrow of twelve inches, will be a little over eight miles, which is about a fair day's work. A steam engine of a stationary power equal to that of ten pair of oxen must, to be equally effective for draft, have a corresponding amount of contact with the earth ; that is the weight of the engine must be distributed over 320 superficial inches of surface in order to be equal to a team of the same weight with the same amount of earth contact. But an increase of surface contact would give a corres ponding increase of power within certain limits —say to double the amount; that is, if an engine could be so constructed as to have 640 inches of traction surface for eight tons' weight, it would be capable of doing twice the amount of draft labor that it would with half that amount of surface. A team needs care and feed when it is of the least service, The short duration of animal life, and the risk of premature death, add not a little to the cost of animal power. Mr. J. Boydell, of England, in 1846, constructed an engine that laid its own track as it traveled over the ground. This he accomplished by hinging together a number of stout, flat, wooden rails, so that they would form a polygon outside, and in the same plane with the driving wheels. These hinged rails were so attached to the wheels that they revolved with them, each rail in turn being laid down in front and taken up behind its proper driving wheel, thus forming a track, composed of an endless belt of short rails hinged end to end. By means of this ingenious expe
dient Mr. Boydell was able to get traction, but, unfortunately, at the sacrifice of a great amount of power. In 1854 Mr. Boydell made con siderable improvement in his machine, but for some cause it has never been introduced into general use, but, like many others of its kind, has been laid aside. About the year 1858, Mr. Thomas H. Burridge, of St. Louis, Mo., a man of remarkable genius, invented and built a traction steam engine, intended chiefly for field culture It consisted of a large cylinder, about ten feet in diameter and ten feet in length, and made of heavy boiler iron. A shaft sup ported in the centre by means of rods or spokes at each end, and at equal distances from each end was secured an interior cog gear. In 1851, Messrs. Calloway and Purkis, of England, with a view to improvement in steam culture, con structed a neat locomotive, with two main traction wheels of eighteen inches' tread, with a truck forward for a steering apparatus. One patent has been taken out in the United States, by E. G. Otis, for improvements in this steam plow, but it has never been put in successful operation. The plan invented by Bellinger, commonly called cable traction, and subsequently improved upon by Fowler, consisting chiefly in his balancing gang plow frame, has undoubtedly been received with more favor, and has gone more extensively into use than any other in England. Among the steam plows invented in this country, that of John W. Fawkes, of Lan caster, Pa., has attracted the greatest attention. Fawkes's locomotive was of the high-pressure kind, and carried two steam cylinders of nine inches diameter each, with fifteen inches stroke, consequently the maximum force was about eleven horse-power. The weight of the locomo tive was seven tons, about five of which rested upon the journals of a traction cylinder six feet in diameter and six feet in length. The amount of effective earth contact was, therefore, seventy two inches. Eight yoke of oxen, weighing in the aggregate eight tons (much below the stan dard weight), are capable of plowing eight fur fows of the width and depth named, at the rate of eighty-eight feet per minute, or one mile per hour, and in doing this they have a traction con tact with the earth of 256 inches. Now, without allowing any deduction for the consumption of power by the increase of speed from oue to four miles per hour, it would require 1,024 inches of contact, or thirty-two pairs of oxen, to drive eight plows at the rate of four miles an hour. The resistance offered by one plow, in sward ground like that upon which Fawkes's plow was tried, is about 400 pounds. It requires one horse power to raise 33,000 pounds one foot per minute; therefore, to raise 400 pounds (the draft of a single plow) one foot in one minute will require one eighty-second (1-82) of a horse power. Now, 3,200 pounds is eight times 400 pounds (the draft of Fawkes's eight plows), hence it will take eight eighty-seconds (8-82) to move 3,200 pounds one foot per minute. Fawkes's plows were said to move at the rate of four miles per hour, which is 352 times one foot per minute; therefore it will require three hundred and fifty two (352), times eight eighty-seconds (8-82) of a horse power to drive his eight plows four miles per hour; which is thirty-four and a half horse power, about twenty-three more than the maxi mum of Fawkes's engine, and this without sub tracting anything for propelling his engine of seven tons weight. It therefore follows that Fawkes's engine, iu order to come up to the standard of an ox team of equal tons weight, should have had an increase of traction contact of 184 inches over the seventy-two of the driving wheel, thus equaling 256 inches (which is that of the team under draft), about a hundred less than the estimated power of Fawkes's engine required to develop its full working capacity of eleven horses. Hence it follows that Fawkes's locomotive should have had a traction surface of 352 inches, instead of seventy-two, and to this deficiency may be attributed his want of success. Among the various appliances to overcome the difficulties from want of traction may be men tioned the revolving screw, operating not unlike the screw propeller in steamships. But experi ence has shown that the friction of the blade upon the soil consumed too much of the power of the engine to make its use successful as a means of propulsion. A patent was granted to J. R. Gray, in 1857, for a machine of this char acter. In 1863, A. W. Hall, of St. Louis, Mo., was granted a patent for a steam plow, so nearly allied to cable traction as to render it worthy of notice, in which the points of novelty were directed to means for overcoming the hitherto almost insurmountable difficulties experi enced from want of traction. The locomotive, consisted of a framework, supported upon four wheels, of suitable strength to bear the weight of the boiler and other parts of the machine. As he did not depend upon the weight of his locomotive for traction, it was built as light as was consistent with the required power. There are two sets of rollers placed horizontally in pairs, transversely to the frame of the machine, and rotated in opposite directions at a uniform speed, by means of two sets of cog gears, which are driven by two reciprocating engines, located upon opposite sides of the boiler. The rollers are grooved in the center to receive a rope which passes between them, and is held from slipping by the strong bite of the rollers. The rope is anchored at each side of the field to be plowed, the anchors being moved forward from time to time on head lands as the plowing progresses. In 1868, P. H. Standish, of California, invented a novel steam cultivator or triturator. The peculiar features of this apparatus consisted in the manner of cutting or breaking the ground; it is not done by shares turning furrows, nor by spades lifting and dumping the earth; but by four knives, or spits, set at right angles vertically in a head-block of cross-bars, revolving hor izontally in a perpendicular shaft, tearing and stirring the earth in a transverse direction to the movement of the machine, something in the manlier of a rotating harrow. Two or three, or more, of these implements are worked, and fol low the engine according to its power, and as may be desired. In 1869 there were patents issued for five steam plows. The same year the plow of Mr. Minniss of Pennsylvania was tried in Iowa, which revolved upon an endless chain track. It plowed five furrows at a time, but failed, as all others had before and since, in doing the work economically in comparison with horses. As we remarked in the beginning of this article, steam plowing probably will not super sede the use of horses, except the time come, requiring extraordinary deep plowing. Then if inventions can overcome some of the chief dif ficulties of traction, steam plowing practically considered may become a fixed fact on our prairie soils. Within the last ten years other patents have been issued either on steam plows or improvements in steam plowing. Yet the feeling that success was to be met with was dying out. NIt is needless to say that none of them showed development that would supersede horse power, and they were short lived. That the large amounts of money spent in this direc tion have beeu entirely sunk, except to the parties directly interested, it would be wrong to say. Perhaps some future inventor profiting by the failure of his successors, may hit upon an idea that may make steam plowing a practical suc cess, on the broad prairies, and, in the hands of the half section farmer. In conclusion we would call attention to the articles, Plows, Plow ing, Cultivating, etc., and also to the illustration of the operation of steam plowing, on page 747, as practiced in Great Britian.