THE AGRIMOTOR TREATED BADLY.
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Ignorance of the Mechanism on the Part of a Certain Class of Farmer will have Bad Results. Neglect of Lubrication the Chief Trouble.
p ERHAPS one is asking too much in suggesting
that, by now, farmers would have learnt how , to treat machinery as it should be treated. I have said many times before in these columns • that the greatest amount of trouble which the farmer meets with in connection with his tractor is-due,to himself. It does, however, seem absurd to have to be writing to-day on the question of the care . of the agrimotor as one would have written three years ago. The appliance has now become an established part of farm equipment, and it might have been expected by now that it would take its place in fair treatment, yet one sees on every hand carelessness, neglect, and ignorance giving rise to A trouble, annoyance, and loss. And the worst of it is that the agrimotor, as such, or the maker, is blamed for matters the responsibility for which no manufacturer can accept, unless he undertakes to make. a machine that is absolutely proof against anything, especially wear and tear.
In my opinion, the farmer makes three very great mistakes in his management of the tractor. In the first place be does not employ a fully proficient man to manage and operate it ; in the ,seeond place, he too often uses cheap and useless lubricating oil, and, thirdly, he lubricates insufficiently. Those are the three causes of agrimotor trouble and of undue cost in maintenance.
Let usotake first that question of the operator. I notice a letter from a correspondent in a recent issue of The Farmer and Stockbreeder, in which a very apt remark appears: "As long as there are so many adjectival fools who can start, stop, and steer, running about offering themselves as tractor drivers at thirty bob a week, one tractor in a district can spoit,the sale of half a doze-n4more "—and he is ab.out,right. But I do not altogether blame the
"adjectival fool" who thinks he can drive a tractor ; I blame the fanner, because, if there were no demand for-thes.e people they would not get work, and so long as a farmer is satisfied with an unqualified man at 308. a week, he will never get one qualified at 23 or 23 102.
I am quite sure that the farmer frequently heaps up trouble upon his,own head by offering and insisting upon paying low wages for important skilled work, and Itthink that is about the bottom( of this part of the argument. Get asgood man and you will get good work ; pay .good wages and youeean insist upon a good man ; but you cannot get him for 30s, a week.
Farmers themselves, on the other hand, seem to de much of this poor business( through ignorance. A horse will let its.driver know when it begins to get thirsty, hungry, or tired, and the horseman know the signs. The tractor has its signs, but the farmer does not know them, although the skilled man would, and because the owner himself does not see these things he fails to realize their great importance.
One hopes the time will come when the agrimotor will he given a better chance mechanically in the bands of the owner, although one is not over sanguine in view of the treatment meted out to other complicated farm machines. The sheaf-binder is a very important and expensive machine ; a machine, too, that, with normal care, will last for many years; yet one finds it treated in exactly the same way as the agrimotor, and that particular machine has been on the farm for more than 20 years. The story of the treatment which the mower, the drill, and many other machines receive, is old and well worn.
Turning now to the question of lubrication. Many farmers too often regard oil as an expense, but it is not so. Money invested in lubricants, when these are properly applied, leads to a considerable saving in wear and tear, thus becoming an aid to efficiency. In this way it is an investment and not an expense. Faulty lubrication of the engine, gears, and other working parts is the source of the greatest trouble experienced by the farmer in operating his agrimotor.
The oiling systems of agrimotors are very simple indeed, this matter having been attended to perfectly by the manufacturer so that all the operator has to do is to keep the system in working order and well supplied with the right kind of lubricant.
In the matter of lubricants, the agrimotor suffers in two ways. In the first place, it is frequently.' made to work upon an insufficient supply, and in the second the oil used is either of the wrong grade or of bad quality. Many farmers have yet to learn that the various grades of oil are marketed for different purposes. All oils are not intended for every purpose. The agriculturist has also still to learn that cheap oil is very rarely the best or cheapest in the long run. Oil for the lubricationof fine pieces of machinery must be bought for its qualities and not for its cheapness. Lubricating oils are generally classified in the order of their thickness. The thinnest oil in tractor operation is used for the circuit-breaker pivot. The oil used in the engine should be that which is able to resist burning; it should possess what is generally called a high burning point, and should not run so thin as to become squeezed out of the bearings. Very thick oil or grease is used for the gears of the transmission and drive, and grease is generally best for wheel hubs, and the thickest grease is used ca the tracks of caterpillar machines.
All that I have said above refers to the use of the agrimotor under all conditions, but there is one phase of agrimotor use which, perhaps, calls for special attention at the present moment. It is well lmown that agrimotors have come into fairly general use for purposes of driving threshing machines and other farm machineryNeglect of proper lubrication in connection with this work has produced such serious results that even the Ministry of Agriculture have had to issue a warning as to the lubrication of tractor-driven threshing machines.
There is a very considerable advantage in a tratter over the portable steam-engine—which farmers.would, for the most part, otherwise use—in that the tractor can be started up exactly when it is wanted. At the same time, certain precautions are necessary in threshing with a tractor. Many of the threshing machines in the hands of farmers are second-hand and of old types, and were designed to be used when single-cylinder portable steam-engines were in common use as a source of power. With that type of engine it was customary to. reduce the pressure when the load was reduced, but the tractor is easily kept running with only occasional attention from time to time. In this way, of course, considerable saving in labour is effected. There is, however, the danger that, unless the lubrication of the threshing machine as carefully attended to, serious accidents may result. If the threshing machine is fitted only with the old type of oil cups for lubricating, and the tractor continues to be driven at top .speed, the result is likely to be that the drum shaft will seize, and very considerable damage may be doneto the threshing box. This danger can, however, easily be avoided by fitting to the drum shafts a, pair of glass oil drippers with adjustable feed, to replace the existing oil cups. These drippers should be filled up and set each morning, and, if necessary, filled again during the day.
But, no matter what precautions are taken in regard to the lubrication of an agrimotor or threshing machine, the efforts will prove vain unless the lubricant employed is of high quality and possesses the necessary properties for the work it is called upon to effect. Quality in a lubricant is a sine qua non to the attainment of satisfactory results.