Keeping ploughing engines, implements and skills alive
Before steam ploughing took off there was a fairly standard way of setting out a field when ploughing i.e. opening out and closing to work across the field. Did this carry on with steam ploughing or was it a case of plough from hedge to hedge as fast as you could so that you could move on to the next job, meaning the now normal way of moving from one side to the other and working the last furrow out by cultivating / power harrow?
In answer to your question (which is a big one) the method of operating depended on the topography of the field in question. The ideal field was large, square and flat but most were anything but. Engines were best worked "head up" as far as possible and leaning slightly away from the pull to aid safe coiling.
The work was done with as many long pulls a possible to avoid time reversing the plough. There was always an ideal speed for the plough according to the conditions so for the best work it could not be rushed. So there were many factors all depending on the experience of the foreman and his gang.
One of the disadvantages of cable cultivation was the need for large headlands to accommodate the engines and tackle. Generally these were finished off by horse or tractor ploughing after the engines had departed.
Just as an aside, and generally, more acreage was done by the tined cultivator than the plough alone. This was a different technique usually on the "done and crossed" principle.
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Not strictly steam I know, but do you know what engines were fitted by McLaren to the Fowler ploughing engines when they converted them to diesel engine? I believe they were of McLaren manufacture.
To complete our answer our expert Peter Longfoot reports that McLaren used their own engines for these conversions.
The BB1s were converted with 6 cylinder MDB6 engines.
The K7s used the 4 cylinder MDB4 engines. He thinks only one pair of K7s were converted by McLaren.