Fowler’s “Wayfarer”, 1920 (No 15563)


Traction Engines 1900-1933

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This is the largest example of a traction engine and was evolved as a ploughing machine. The enormous wheels have very wide tread to prevent it from sinking in soft ground. Slung beneath the boiler is a great reel of high quality cable. John Fowler, developer of ploughing engines in the mid-19th Century, gained his inspiration from a visit to Ireland where he noticed vast tracts of bog-land and conceived a means of large-scale land-drainage. From this he accepted a challenge at the Lincoln ‘Royal’ of 1853 to develop the use of engines for other farming methods including cultivation. He used a stationery steam engine to move a plough to and fro across a field on an endless wire rope. Fowler constantly experimented with the design of engines, tackle and working systems but died in 1864 at the age of only 38. His brother and others then continued the Leeds based business and by 1920 had developed this heavy machine. One of a pair, each engine stood on opposite headlands across a field and a plough was drawn from one to the other across the field by the cable on the drum beneath the boiler. The plough was arranged as a see-saw and each limb contained 7 ploughs. It was steered by a man seated on the implement, and the system could plough up to 11 acres in a day. Wayfarer can still be seen occasionally at Traction Rallies and was exhibited at the Pickering Traction Rally in 2004.

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Dimensions 44.5 × 35.5 cm