Cockshutt 12 Bottom Engine Gang Plow

The advent of plowing with steam engines posed significant problems as the first plows used behind an engine were adopted from animal traction plows. As these plows at best could only feature three bottoms and usually less than that, most engines had the power to draw multiple units behind it. How to hook all these units together and keep them properly trailing behind the engine was a problem. As well, the engines being more powerful often caused the horse traction plow frames to fail. The Cockshutt Plow Company recognized the problems and set out to design plows specifically for mechanized traction. In 1903, Cockshutt introduced heavy duty three and four bottom plows suitable for mechanical traction. If a farmer needed a plow larger than three or four bottoms, the farmer could hook two or three of the Cockshutt units together by using what Cockshutt called a “jockey rod”. However an operator was needed on each unit to work the levers to raise and lower the bottoms.

Cockshutt then introduced another new plow designed for mechanical traction, the Engine Gang Plow. This design featured one frame and required only one operator. There were three basic sizes ranging from 6 bottoms to 12 bottoms. The basic frame was constructed out of heavy angle iron in a triangular shape. All sizes used identical moldboard assemblies attached side by side across the angled rear of the frame. Each moldboard assembly was a plow in itself and was hinged to the frame. Each assembly had its own depth gauge wheel, allowing individual assemblies to float and follow the contour of the ground. As these assemblies were identical, if one was damaged the plow man could easily remove two hinge pins to remove the damaged assembly, take a complete assembly off the outward end of the plow to replace the damaged assembly and continue plowing. With repairs and parts some distance and time away in the Pioneer era, this was a useful feature.

Other makes of plow used one depth gauge wheel and lift lever to control two bottoms so requiring more physical strength to lift the section. This arrangement also caused problems in making the plow work level.

Cockshutt Engine Gang plows were very common on the prairies, not only as this design offered advantages over other makes of plows but also as the tariff structure of the time resulted in heavy taxes being imposed upon imported farm machinery. This gave a price advantage to Canadian built machinery. Cockshutt claimed to have sold 800 Engine Gang plows in a Cockshutt advertisement in the April, 1910 edition of the Canadian Thresherman and Farmer magazine

The Museum has a 12 bottom Cockshutt Engine Gang plow in the collection. This plow is fitted with wheat land bottoms not breaker bottoms. Breaker bottoms have a longer moldboard which was found useful in turning over sod.

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