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Government Experience with Caterpillar-tyPe Tractors.
I hear that the Government experience with tractors of the Caterpillar type in the war has been so far satisfactory that a great extension of the system is contemplated, and that it may probably not be long before this type of tractor will be built in England in considerable quantity for-work in connection with the Army transport at the Front. The performance of the light tanks, too, which I see the Press are terming "Whippets," is attracting widespread attention, and the success of these latter Machines is particularly interestng, for, although built on the chain tread principle, which has hitherto been looked upon as suitable only for slow-moving machines, they are really capable of a verysrespectable
turn of speed. Of course, this ,widespread .ieea as to the speed limitations of the chain-track system has been due to the fact that, originfited for work of a purely slow-speed character, no one has, before this, attempted to apply it otherwise, and if, as I suspect may turn out to be the case, this new war usage of the system demonstrates its practicability for employment at lorry, rather than tractor speeds, it may be the commencement of a new development which may go far to revolutionize our heavy transport system, as well as Our road construction. I believe its would be shown that, used on macadam toads with suitably designed treads, the wear on the road surface under heavy loads would be vastly less than where wheels are employed. I know that there is an impression in the minds of many that caterpillar treads must be destructive of road surfacesI think this belief will be found to exist very strongly amongst urban and district, and particularly amongst rural road authorities, but I cannot believe that this supposition is other than an erroneous one, for it stands to reason that if the weight per square inch is reduced so enormously as it is, the wear on the road surface must necessarily be less, and hence the introduetion of this type of American farm tractor, and its use in the war may react to the very great advantage of general road transport, as well as to the pockets of the ratepayers.
I am given to understand from what. I believe to be a realiable source that now that large numbers of Fordson tractors have been put to work in this country a problem has arisen with regard to the supply of ploughs. . Personally, I believe that the difficulty is more a myth than a reality. But, neyertheless, Morris, Russell and Co., Ltd., are assisting to meet what is undoubtedly an extensive demand with their " Speedy " ploughs. The two illustration§ which I have had sent me and which I have asked the Editor to include [We reproduce them herewith.--En.] will show the class of work these handy ploughs perform. The land being ploughed was covered with grasS fully 2 ft. high, but by the time the " Speedy " plough had finished with it scarcely a blade could be seen. That the plough is extremely light in draught is proved by the fact that the company's " Eros " tractor unit is shown in the illustration pulling it and also a land press. at the same time. The depth ploughed was approximately 6 ins. I understand that demonstrations are now being arranged throughout the country for autumn
ploughing, and owners of a Fordson tractor, or, as a matter of fact, any other type of tractor requiring a two-furrow plough, are invited to communicate with the company, so that they can refer them to the nearest demonstration. I am strongly in favour of demonstrations of this sort which, to my mind, serve a very convincing purpose.
Seine of us who know all about motors and machinery are apt to call the farmer and his men clumsy dolts when their tractors go wrong for want of attention, when carburetters are allowed to get choked with chaff, dust, etc-, when bearings seize for Jack of lubrication, and so on. But we must remember that not one farmer, or farmer's man, in a dozen has a,ny mechanical knowledge or any mechanical instinct. If ho had doubtless he would not be following his present occupation, but would be in one muse congenial to his tastes. Yet how few producers of tractors on either side of the Atlantic issue any sort of printed instructions with their machines, and when they do how perfunctory and useless many of them are. As a matter of fact, I only remember to have seen one tractor instruction book which was of any real use whatever, and lengthy instructions also are not by any means the ideal requirement. They remind me of a drawing I once saw in "The Motor," in the early days of motoring, where a much battered motorist, seated on the ground in the midst of the wreck of his machine, searches, his instruction book to find what he ought to have done which he did not do. _There is too much information for the mind of the beginner to assimilate all at once, and he forgets or does not grasp half of it.
A tractor engineer now makes a suggestion in this connection, which is very practical and very much to to the point. He says, instead of giving long instructions locked away in a book, why not attach them to the machine itself, so they -cannot conic off, be lost, or become indecipherable? In other words, cast on the piece, or on an attached plate, instructions in condensed form. Thus, " Oil here daily" where it needs it. " Use so.-and-so,grease," on a stuffing box. " Screw up this nut when yock develops," and so on. And another important point to be kept in mind by designers is to endeavour, far more than with a motorcar, to make their machinery foolproof. Trac
tors have to work in clouds of dust at times, yet how .few, until quite recently, were equipped with air cleaning or fuel straining devices ? And so on throughout-the machine there are many points needing attention to make the machines simpler to operate and more certainly reliable.
In a recent issue I mentioned that considerable controversy has been taking i taking i
• place in the States n regard to the Fordson and the methods of its sponsors in launching it 'on its career, and now a friend has sent me a copy of the official report by Professor Yerkes, Assistant Agriculturist and Tractor Expert to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, made to his department after carrying out a special investigation of the manufacture and working of this tractor, with a view to the -U.S. Government officially adopting it. He spent several,days at the factory and farm, and in view of the fact that the adoption of the tractor was turned down by the U.S. Government and adopted to the extent of a 6000 order by our own, this report furnishes interesting reading. AGREVIOT.