The time is coming when in many portions of .the United States the steam plow will be permanently adopted. If, in a country of small farms like England, it can be made so useful as to render profitable lands, which, without it, can only j be worked at a loss, how much wider is its scope on our broad plantations, wide prairies, and river bottoms which are devoted to grain production. The period is ripe for the introduction of a Yankee steam plow. Some inventors in this field have had the misfortune to live some years too early. But the inventive ' genius of the country is now fairly turned to the solution of the problem, and the steam plow of the time to come is now imperatively demanded. In aiming at the production of a good steam plow, we think inventors have confined their efforts too closely to the imitation of the work of the common plow. Is it not quite possible that some other method of loosening the earth may be found to answer all the purposes of the furrow, without rendering large tractive power necessary. The early, and still favorite method with gardeners, is forking or spading up the ground, and there can be no doubt that in this way the soil is better prepared for the reception of seed than by the use of the plow. No mowing machine inventor has ever succeeded in applying other than human strength to the working of swinging blades or scythes, though many have sought to do so. It was not till the shearing principle as used in the common cutter bar was adopted that mowing machines found an abiding place. But it may be objected that in plowing green sward it is essential to not break the earth to pieces but to turn it over neatly, grass side down, so that the vitality of the grassroots may be destroyed and the turf may rot. We do not think the continuous furrow the only means whereby this may be accomplished, and we believe the plowing machine of the future will demonstrate the truth of our views. A new locomotive plowing machine, capable of drawing a gang of plows through a stiff soil was recently tried at Rochester, it is said, with highly satisfactory results. The locomotive weighs scarcely more than two tuns, but its tractive power is gained by a series of out-thrusting flukes in the traction wheels, whioh penetrate the earth, and are withdrawn by machinery inside as the wheels revolve. By this means the flukes only project from the wheels as they approach the earth on the under side of the wheel. There are springs attached to the flukes to relieve them when they come into contaci with stones or other impenetrable substances. The plows are attached to this traction engine by chains, and at the trial, three plows, each held in the usual manner by an attendant, were drawn in this way through a stubborn soil. So much for the Rochester machine. From New Albany, Ind., we learn of a new steam plow, the invention of a citizen of that place, and which is described at length in the Daily Ledger : " The framework, in fact the entire machine, is of pipes. The driving wheels are geared positively, and are driven by vertical cylinders, the pistons of which are attached by an irregular eccentric motion, direct from the engine. In addition to this motion eight toggle joints joining levers, which simulate the motion of a horse's leg, assist the driving wheels when they fail in their traction." The description given in the Daily Ledger is not so clear as to give a very distinct idea of this plow; but we gather that the plows proper are attached to beams, which are raised or lowered at will, and move along with the traction engine. A California inventor has also recently taken out a patent for a steam plow, the general principle of which, like those described, is the drawing of plows by a traction engine. We are not aware that the English method of drawing gangs of plows across fields by a wire rope and drum finds much favor with American mechanics; but if plows must be drawn through the earth after the old fashion, it seems a more economical plan than the use of traction engines for that purpose.
This article was originally published with the title "Steam Plowing in America"