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Massey Discussion Forums :: Massey Talk :: Massey plows (ploughs) View modes: 
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Posted: 11/3/2013 1:06:16 PM
   

RE:Massey plows (ploughs)

Can I just throw my opinions in the ring about these plouging matches and risk a lot of wrath!!

For what it's worth I find these ploughing matches a total bore and irrelevance.  A few weeks ago I went down to the Welsh National because it is was quite near me but was leaving after about two hours.  Don't get me wrong - it was a great site and well organised but oh the boredom of it.  The fact is that these matches bear no reality to real life down on the farm where the essence is to get the maximum amount of work done in the minimum amount of time.  It makes me almost scream when I see the ploughman jumping off their tractors to walk back and bury a bit of trash or push over a bit of stubborn furrow.  And they can have assistants to help.  And they seem to have endless hours to complete a small area of land.

I would like to see a new type of ploughing match where everything was against the clock, no jumping off tractors to bury unburied trash annd certainly no assistants.  Maybe two classes - one for broken furrows and one for whole furrows to reflect the times required for these two types of work.

I love watching the horse ploughing but here again things seem to have departed from their farming origins.  Often we see the ploughman, another guiding the horses and often yet a third assisting.  An old horse ploughman would have been on his own.  Let's get back to that.

Another gripe I have is the so called vintage tractor ploughing which more often than not comprises a classic tractor pulling a trailer plough!  Let vintage ploughs be pulled by vintage tractors.  And where we have classic tractors let us insist that each tractor should pull a plough made by the tractor maker unless they did not make such an implement.  A move towards this over here has been the advent of pure Ferguson ploughing sections.

And perhaps we could insist that all ploughs be totally original?  By all means tho' let there be classes for those who wish to attach every conceivable gadget to their plough - just in general let there be a move back to originality and farm style ploughing.

I could go on but maybe I have ignited a fuse................

John 





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User avatar
Posted: 11/3/2013 3:31:46 PM
   

RE:Massey plows (ploughs)

Good discussion, I am not too big on the competition part either but I respect the interest some of the people have for plowing competitions. I just like having fun and if its not perfect plowing thats fine with me. We dont really have any competitions around here that I know of and the long english style or sod type bottoms on plows are nearly non existant around our part of MN and ND.

I only have one Massey plow with the #21 bottoms on a 3bottom 11" width chain lift plow that would maybe work for a competition. I need to find another moldboard for it. I dont know if I will ever find one?
 


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User avatar
Posted: 11/3/2013 9:25:06 PM
   

RE:Massey plows (ploughs)

John,
My wife agrees with you about plowing matches being slow moving and boring! Your comment about relevance to current agricultural practice and production is also accurate. This has been debated in some reviews I've seen back into the 1920's. The rules used in international competition allow all of the activities that you dislike, and I also agree with your opinion on those. Keep the rules simple and the judging fair and watch the politics and big money go away.

It's my belief that any sport, event or gathering that encourages and promotes the ag equipment hobby or helps preserve the farm heritage is worthwhile and adds value and a point of entry to the hobby as a whole.  

I hope that you might agree that while some of us may currently find more enjoyment in an activity like plowing or steam power or tractor pulls (something I haven't even seen mentioned on this site), over a spit and shine event, it certainly doesn't mean that we can't, don't or won't ever appreciate the same areas of the hobby as you.

Time to get off my soapbox now.  Just had to get that off my mind!


Jerry Thomas

Batavia, IL

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Posted: 11/4/2013 2:59:26 PM
   

RE:Massey plows (ploughs)

Jerry,
You plowed at Big Rock in what I think may have been the golden age for M-H there.  The local M-H dealer, Thomas and Swickert, or, depending on the year, possibly Thomas and Carlson from Batavia, "sponsored" several classes and offered prizes like wrist watches and such for winners.  I believe they also provided dinner for their customers who entered with M-H tractors and equipment.  They always had a large display of M-H equipment and there was great rivalry with the Case dealer from Yorkville.  The M-H dealer technicians were nearby, dressed in their white coveralls to engage the crowds and provide commentary about the M-H equipment in use.  Quite a show!
I have some old 8mm home movie film of the 1949 and 1950 matches, taken by the dealer.  Hoping to get it put together on DVD some day to share.

The match in Plainfield was most likely the Wheatland Plowing Match.  It was started in 1876 and held fairly regularly until 1976. I will contact you off-line to get some additional information and compare notes.

Jerry Thomas

Batavia, IL

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User avatar
Posted: 11/6/2013 7:54:21 AM
   

RE:Massey plows (ploughs)

Great to see some good civil discussion on a traditional agricultural subject.
 
For me personally the two operations in the farming calendar year which gives me most satisfaction are ploughing and harvesting, before the days of quiet cabs there was nothing I enjoyed better as a teenager than ploughing with the seagulls following quickly behind shouting away and the smell of the soil, all these you do not experience in todays modern cabs, then harvesting a crop after growing it is also very rewarding.

My ploughing interest and connections go back a few generations, Alan mentioned the famous Ransomes of Ipswich ploughs, back in the days of horses both my great grandfather and grandfather ploughed in competitions in Lincolnshire using Ransome ploughs, in doing this and winning many prizes they were like demonstrating salesmen for Ransomes ploughs, I still have many of these prize certificates and family photgraphs of the two geneartions locally at matches. So naturally my dad always enjoyed and talked about ploughing and as a young lad I sat with him for hours on the tractor watching behind what was happening and how a plough works, but must say I didn't always listen to his knowledge!! he always told me the best way to learn how a plough runs is to walk behind one.

During the early 1980's when I started vintage ploughing I would attend many local ploughing matches, he woud come with me, often riding on the M-H 25 fender, eventually Health and Safety stopped this as only one person can ride on a tractor here in a public place, so after years of doing it he found that difficult to take.
I used to plough with the styled M-H 25  and a three furrow Ransome RSLD plough which grandfather bought new, also I ploughed with the green Pacemaker and popular M-H No 26 two furrow plough.
As I progressed I really enjoyed the ploughing and skill I had learnt but must say I found the majority of the culture changing at these events, the competitors were at each others throat to win the silver cups and prize money, as described earlier in this thread the conditon of their work to achieve this was what my dad used to call "gardening" following with a fork or sometimes their hands burying any visible trash, I even experienced fighting at one match many years ago over the eventual winner.

That was it for me and I have never ploughed again in a match, I like nothing better than to go to a vintage working event and demonstrate any of my tractors and implements, including ploughs and the M-H Pulverator plough, which of course would be frowned upon at any competative ploughing match. 
At a demostration everyone including owners and visiting public enjoy seeing the equipment working how it was originally intended to do, that's what gives me satisfaction.

Alan, IL plowman and Jerry good to see you doing some fine work with your ploughs and thanks for some good photographs. I have never ploughed with my GP it looks like you got the hang of it with those furrows IL, is it good to use as a ploughing tractor?

I know there is a place for everyone and everything on this earth and hope we keep it that way so we all get along fine.

JWB those well turned furrows in the fall allow mother nature to work during the winter months with frost rain and everything else, then when you go over them in the spring with your harrows they break down into a lovely seed bed, to sow your spring crop.

Here are a few old photographs of the 25 and Ransome plough and the Pacemaker with No 26 plough back in the early 1980's.

Malcolm.




 

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Posted: 11/6/2013 10:38:54 AM
   

RE:Massey plows (ploughs)

My take on competion plowing is this:- It's an art. In my mine it's the same as hedge laying, dry stone walling and all the other country crafts.

I think it's nice to preserve these skills for future generations to be able to see how things were done in the past. We all like our vintage tractors but I doubt if many of us would want to farm with them nowadays but we preserve them.

I agree in the vintage mounted class the plows have been heaverly modified and bear little relsemblance to the machine that left the factory but the vintage mounted unmodified class it is what it says. The plow has to be as it left the factory. The only accessories is what was available at the time of manufacture.

As far as I am aware the only time that you can have a helper is to help you put up your poles for marking out. As for gardening if the judge is on the look out he will deduct points.


As to the time it takes to plow a plot,Up to four hours. No this wouldn't be acceptable commercially but plowing competions are not comercial events. They are country pastimes that some of us enjoy and I am sure a lot of people don't.

When it comes to comercial plowing a lot of acres have to be plowed in a day but again it shouldn't be just a matter of "blacking the land". The modern plowman should be doing the best job that he can to bury the trash and leave a nice level seedbed.

Lovely photos Malcolm. Although I plow with a mounted plow I think the trailed turn outs look the best..

Alan






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User avatar
Posted: 11/6/2013 8:35:27 PM
   

RE:Massey plows (ploughs)

Malcolm,
That's a very poetic description of your days ploughing!  Watching the earth turn over at the direction of the moldboards is truly mesmerizing - as hypnotizing as watching the wake from a motorboat.

As for ploughing with the GP, it works quite well.  Mine is a 60 inch width, so it lines up quite well with a small plow.  No doubt that a landside or hillside lever would be helpful, as I would like to be able to change the drawbar more easily during and after the first round.  Has anyone seen one on a GP?  I've heard that there is one that mounts on the hitch of the plow?
 
Powerwise, the Hercules OHC engine is up to the task, now that it's putting out its full 22 hp.  The M-H 26 plow frame is assembled for 10.5 inch width.  There have been several times over the years where the "balanced power" of 4wd has been a definite advantage over lesser machines, such as when the summer has been dry, but we get a heavy rain the day or two before the match, resulting in hard ground under a layer of mud.  The opening round is a chore, as my steering box is currently quite loose, allowing the lugs to pitch and fight back through the linkage with about a quarter turn of free play.  After the first round, I can run in the furrow, and the old girl settles right in and runs straight and true.

I'm attaching a .pdf file of the official rules and scorecard that we use, in case someone is curious about how the judging and scoring system works.  The score values and rules are exactly the same as first used in 1895, with the exception of the details of what assistance cannot  be given after the first round is completed.

Feel free to use these rules as a starting point if you want to start your own local match.  They've worked pretty well for us, and have kept the match successful and friendly to the point of having to choose entries by earliest postmarks nearly every year.

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Jerry Thomas

Batavia, IL

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Posted: 11/7/2013 5:04:27 AM
   

RE:Massey plows (ploughs)

Born, bred and living next to the poet "Sir Alfred Lord Tennyson's" place at Somersby, often crossing his famous "babbling brook" most days keeps one's mind on the words we speak and write.

When you want a trip over the pond IL I will take your round there to experience his work and home.

Good to hear your comments on the performance of the GP.

Malcolm.


 


  


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