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THE MODERN GAS TRACTOR
THE SCOPE, ADVANTAGES AND APPLICATION OF
POWER TRACTION. Influence of Mechanical Power on the Arts—Application of
Power in Agriculture Advantages of Power Traction Comparison Between Work of Horse and Tractor-Thermal Efficiency of Horse Tractor Furnishes Power for Various Farm Machines-Economical Aspect of Power TractionAnalysis of Requirements of Ideal Tractor—Practical Prime Movers—Comparing Steam and Gas Power from a Practical Point of View-Efficiency of Steam and Gas PowerWhy Gas Tractors Are Most Popular. Influence of Mechanical Power on the Arts.—The discovery of the expansive power of steam and the development of the practical steam engine by Watt was the inception of the era of supremacy of mechanical power and the decline of animal energy in the mechanical arts. The first steam engine was devised to draw water out of mines with greater celerity than prevailed with animal power, the only source of work available when natural forces, such as wind or falling water could not be used and though crude in form, it was not long before it had conclusively demonstrated its superiority as a prime mover and was generally used to replace animal power in the industrial establishments and workshops of the day.
When the steam engine had been developed still further, other inventors sought to apply it to the wide field
of transportation. Early in the 19th century the steamboat contrived by Robert Fulton proved without question that navigation by mechanical power was possible, and a little later, road vehicles were devised that ran without horses. The opposition of the ignorant public prevented further development and some countries, notably England, passed laws excluding such self-pro
pelling vehicles from the highways. Ignorance has always been a bar to progress, and thus the antipathy of an uneducated populace delayed the development of the modern automobile by over half a century.
While the steam engine and other forms of prime movers soon displaced horse and human power in the field of mechanical engineering and general manufacturing, ani
mal power has remained for years supreme in the oldest and most important industry of mankind, agriculture. In most countries it is the horse, ass or ox that is used for drawing the ploughs and other machines utilized for tilling the soil. In India and parts of Africa the elephant is used, in Asia the camel furnishes power. Domesticated buffalo, reindeer, or dogs serve as motive power in other localities while the pioneer Doukhabor farmer of Canada, when too poor to purchase horseflesh harnessed ten or twelve women to the plough and thus tilled the virgin soil that soon gave him a competence.
Application of Power in Agriculture.—Agriculture is the basis of any country's prosperity. It is the most important of the occupations of man because it furnishes the majority of the foodstuffs that sustain life. A country that cannot grow enough food for its population is always in grave danger, and no matter how large its other resources may be, it is always at the mercy of those states that are able to feed their people. Of late years, a number of conditions have served to direct public interest to the farmer and the important bearing his work bears to the general welfare of the people. The increasing cost of living, the high prices for the bare necessities of life demands careful consideration and scientific application of principles that will increase the farmer's efficiency. It is more important that the cost of producing the food of man be reduced than that of any other thing. It takes good food and plenty of it to conserve human and animal life and efficiency.
Just as mechanical power increased production and reduced cost of our manufactured products to such an extent that the luxuries of kings of but a century ago are available to the poorest workman of to-day, so its general application to the farmer's work will increase the productiveness of his fields. It will give him more time for the intelligent direction of his activities by reducing the daily grind of incessant toil heretofore his lot; and increase his wealth and purchasing power and thus benefit the public at large in many ways. The possibilities of expansion of our already large agricultural industry by application of mechanical power to the fields,
Fig. 2.—The Modern Method of Soil Tillage. Mechanical Power
Furnished by Gas Tractor Pulls Six Ploughs at Once. Some
workshop and even households of our rural population can be adequately grasped only by a study of sociology and economics that is obviously not within the scope of a mechanical treatise.
Advantages of Power Traction. There is no point about the farm where power is more necessary than in the fields, and it is said that more energy is spent in plowing annually than in the combined factories of the world during the same period. The earliest plow was a crotched stick and served to till the ground for the first of our primitive ancestors who conceived the idea that breaking the ground was the first step and one of the most important that had bearing upon the growth of the seed sowed therein. Plowing has always demanded more expenditure of energy and time than all other lines of farm work combined. History records that the Chinese Emperor Shen Neng who assumed the sceptre nearly 3,000 years before the beginning of the Christian era, “first fashioned timber into plows.” For over 5,000 years ploughing has been done by animal power and the feet of the larger majority of our farmers are still in the furrow, their arms still control and guide the plough.
The call first came for power to pull the plough, to make many furrows in the time usually taken to make one. The earth must be ploughed at a certain time, and under sharply defined conditions. To violate any of the rules, either of time or thoroughness of tillage makes material difference in the quality and quantity of the crops. The amount of land tilled depended upon the equipment of the farmer and the endurance of his employees and horses. At best, the area ploughed was generally but a small percentage of the ground available for cultivation. The crops were limited and the productive ability of the farm was relatively low in comparison to what power makes possible.
The first steam ploughing engine is credited to J. W. Fawkes, and was built in 1858. It drew eight plows in prairie sod at the rate of three miles per hour. The first