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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Firewood and the Three-Point Hitch

Tractors were first called traction engines because traction, and draft, are the essential requirements for applying motive force to row crop operations. It's not a trivial problem, which continues to be studied in agricultural engineering departments at universities around the world. A great advance came with pioneering work in the 1920s by Harry Ferguson that led to his invention of the three-point hitch still used today. Prior to this, implements such as plows and cultivators simply trailed behind the tractor, like a camper behind a car, with no fixed positioning of the two components except at the single flexible point of connection. The three-point hitch makes the implement an extension of the tractor itself, allowing fine adjustment of working heights and angles, and directly applying the tractor's power to the soil operation. Three-point hitch implements don't have travel wheels; the hitch lifts them off the ground to be carried by the tractor.

If there's a disadvantage to the three-point hitch, it's the relative difficulty of on-off and swapping one implement for another. We had able-bodied guests a few weeks ago and took advantage to collect and cut firewood, but first things first. We'd left the blade on the big tractor in anticipation of snow removal, but we needed the wagon to haul wood. Here I'm lowering the blade to be supported by a couple concrete blocks.

The lower links are pulled wide and secured in that position, the top link removed, and the tractor can now drive away.

Next we install a drawbar attachment between the lower links, attach the wagon tongue with a hitch pin, and we're ready to pull a trailer.

While Alan took Frank down the creek to set more concrete chunks in the ford at the site of the ruined bridge, Debbie and I went to the top of the terraced observatory field where large branches had fallen from a snag, and got to work with the chainsaw.

We filled the wagon, pulled it to the house and stacked the contents, and returned for a second load.

If conditions were right, we intended to make a bonfire of the brush pile at the top of the orchard field, and there we left the second load of firewood. As it turned out, the evening was too breezy to torch the brush pile, and a few days later I added these logs to the stacks at the house.

Things look very different now. Next: blizzard!

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