Help with setting up a plough

New Puritan

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
East Sussex
I'm slowly learning to plough, but could do with some advice for basic setting up. The plough in question is a 4 furrow Dowdeswell DP7C, with 14 inch UCN boards. On a clean(ish) stubble field it's doing a good job and I'm quite pleased, but where there's a lot of surface material it's not always burying very well.

I've got the "Ransomes book of ploughing" which a much older thread on here suggested someone new to ploughing should get hold of. Looking at that, it makes a few comments about setting the skimmers correctly, but I'm not sure what point I should be starting from.

If I am ploughing 7 inches deep, what should be the difference in height of the main boards and the skimmers? And what angle should the skimmers be at, relative to the boards?

Apologies if this makes little sense - and many thanks in advance for anyone who suggests anything that might help.
 

traineefarmer

Member
Location
Mid Norfolk
I'm slowly learning to plough, but could do with some advice for basic setting up. The plough in question is a 4 furrow Dowdeswell DP7C, with 14 inch UCN boards. On a clean(ish) stubble field it's doing a good job and I'm quite pleased, but where there's a lot of surface material it's not always burying very well.

I've got the "Ransomes book of ploughing" which a much older thread on here suggested someone new to ploughing should get hold of. Looking at that, it makes a few comments about setting the skimmers correctly, but I'm not sure what point I should be starting from.

If I am ploughing 7 inches deep, what should be the difference in height of the main boards and the skimmers? And what angle should the skimmers be at, relative to the boards?

Apologies if this makes little sense - and many thanks in advance for anyone who suggests anything that might help.
There's your problem.
 
I'm slowly learning to plough, but could do with some advice for basic setting up. The plough in question is a 4 furrow Dowdeswell DP7C, with 14 inch UCN boards. On a clean(ish) stubble field it's doing a good job and I'm quite pleased, but where there's a lot of surface material it's not always burying very well.

I've got the "Ransomes book of ploughing" which a much older thread on here suggested someone new to ploughing should get hold of. Looking at that, it makes a few comments about setting the skimmers correctly, but I'm not sure what point I should be starting from.

If I am ploughing 7 inches deep, what should be the difference in height of the main boards and the skimmers? And what angle should the skimmers be at, relative to the boards?

Apologies if this makes little sense - and many thanks in advance for anyone who suggests anything that might help.
Think the rule of thumb was discs cut half of plough depth and skims a third iirc
 

DrWazzock

Member
Location
Lincolnshire
I'm slowly learning to plough, but could do with some advice for basic setting up. The plough in question is a 4 furrow Dowdeswell DP7C, with 14 inch UCN boards. On a clean(ish) stubble field it's doing a good job and I'm quite pleased, but where there's a lot of surface material it's not always burying very well.

I've got the "Ransomes book of ploughing" which a much older thread on here suggested someone new to ploughing should get hold of. Looking at that, it makes a few comments about setting the skimmers correctly, but I'm not sure what point I should be starting from.

If I am ploughing 7 inches deep, what should be the difference in height of the main boards and the skimmers? And what angle should the skimmers be at, relative to the boards?

Apologies if this makes little sense - and many thanks in advance for anyone who suggests anything that might help.
As a starting point the skimmers angle should be turned so that their points are about 3/4" (0.75 inches) inside of the landsides, I.e.taking a 3/4" more land than the plough share is taking. Then have a look to see that the trash is being thrown into the bottom of the furrow, not onto the back of the next furrow and fine tune the angle accordingly for your normal driving speed.

The skimmers depth should be sufficient to nicely fill and polish the skimmer, taking enough to make a clean job, but not more than necessary or you might have trouble getting the plough into the ground.

The skimmers should all line up with one another looking along their points. Sometimes if one isn't going well just line it up with the ones that are and it cures it.

We use Dowdeswell UCN in stubbles with chopped straw and they do a good job on the whole.

I think there are two types of skimmer, J and K type. One or the other is for slow ploughing with a crawler or in grass or something but they are unusual. We had a problem because the previous owner had fitted one J type skimmer frog amongst the K type.

Make sure the plough is running with legs vertical and even depth along its length.

They can be a bit quirky but usually we get there in the end.
I speak as Jack of all trades not a master ploughman.
 

New Puritan

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
East Sussex
Thank you @davidroberts30 , @le bon paysan & @DrWazzock - that's all useful.

As a bit more background, I only farm just under 50 acres, and only took the farm on 3 years ago. All in all, that hasn't led me to have to have done huge amounts of ploughing, and I was also cursed with an odd amount of beginners' luck where I thought ploughing must be really easy as it seemed to go really well to start with.

The plough belonged to my landlord, but I have just bought it off him. It's got a mishmash of parts on it, some borrowed or adapted from an old Ransomes plough he previously used. It's a long way from ideal in many respects, but it's better than using a spade or paying someone else to plough it for me.

The skimmers should all line up with one another looking along their points. Sometimes if one isn't going well just line it up with the ones that are and it cures it.
This is the bit that gets me. They don't line up at all well, but they are so haphazard at present I don't know which one to base the others on. The trash not being buried isn't following an obvious pattern to then cross reference the skimmers with, if you see what I mean?
 
Last edited:

DrWazzock

Member
Location
Lincolnshire
Thank you @davidroberts30 , @le bon paysan & @DrWazzock - that's all useful.

As a bit more background, I only farm just under 50 acres, and only took the farm on 3 years ago. All in all, that hasn't led me to have to have done huge amounts of ploughing, and I was also cursed with an odd amount of beginners' luck where I thought ploughing must be really easy as it seemed to go really well to start with.

The plough belonged to my landlord, but I have just bought it off him. It's got a mishmash of parts on it, some borrowed or adapted from an old Ransomes plough he previously used. It's a long way from ideal in many respects, but it's better than using a spade or paying someone else to plough it for me.

It pulls along nicely behind the 3050 at very low revs in H2, and I'm confident on getting it properly in the ground and keeping it level.



This is the bit that gets me. They don't line up at all well, but they are so haphazard at present I don't know which one to base the others on. The trash not being buried isn't following an obvious pattern to then cross reference the skimmers with, if you see what I mean?
Just move one till it does a good job then move the rest to same setting. Ideally you want to start with new metal on them all as it makes the job much easier. They might be all over the place because they are all at different stages of wear but even then generally their points should line up. I'd turn a skimmer point 3/4" or maybe a bit more inside of the landsides for starters and maybe 5" above the main point and go from there.

I usually plough 8 or 9" deep. 7" might be a wee bit shallow for a UCN.
 

Simon Chiles

DD Moderator
Perhaps ditch the skimmers & replace with trash boards , you won’t be constantly adjusting them & trying to keep them tight .Tin hat firmly on .
I’d agree with this, took me about about 35 years to work that out. Much easier to set up especially if you’re new to the job and haven’t got much time to faddle about, will cope with more trash and less chance of bunging up in extreme conditions. For the purists they won’t do quite such a good job but unless you’re into ploughing competitions they are perfectly acceptable.

Weld furrow splitters onto the wings if you haven’t got hours to spend and diesel to waste using a powerharrow.
 

Simon Chiles

DD Moderator
Just move one till it does a good job then move the rest to same setting. Ideally you want to start with new metal on them all as it makes the job much easier. They might be all over the place because they are all at different stages of wear but even then generally their points should line up. I'd turn a skimmer point 3/4" or maybe a bit more inside of the landsides for starters and maybe 5" above the main point and go from there.

I usually plough 8 or 9" deep. 7" might be a wee bit shallow for a UCN.
If you’re ploughing 8 or 9 inches deep then setting the skimmer 5 inches above the point means that the skimmer is running 3 or 4 inches which is far too deep, shallower normally achieves better results and is easier to set up. I’d have run them only an inch or two at the max.
 

New Puritan

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
East Sussex
Okay, bear in mind you're speaking with a newbie / relative nincompoop here - are trash boards those long things that stick out from the shins?

My ploughing does not have to look of competition standard (though nevertheless that would be nice). I asked the power harrow the other day and it said it couldn't care less (within reason).

@DrWazzock - am I ploughing too shallow then? What board should be used for shallower ploughing?
 

Simon Chiles

DD Moderator
Okay, bear in mind you're speaking with a newbie / relative nincompoop here - are trash boards those long things that stick out from the shins?

My ploughing does not have to look of competition standard (though nevertheless that would be nice). I asked the power harrow the other day and it said it couldn't care less (within reason).

@DrWazzock - am I ploughing too shallow then? What board should be used for shallower ploughing?
On UCN’s the ideal depth is probably 8 inches, 7 would be ok. Probably on your soil you’ll end up bringing up horrible yellow clay if you go much deeper.

Yes trash boards bolt onto the shin, you’ll need a longer shin with the holes drilled in it to fit them.
 

Two Tone

Member
Mixed Farmer
Thank you @davidroberts30 , @le bon paysan & @DrWazzock - that's all useful.

As a bit more background, I only farm just under 50 acres, and only took the farm on 3 years ago. All in all, that hasn't led me to have to have done huge amounts of ploughing, and I was also cursed with an odd amount of beginners' luck where I thought ploughing must be really easy as it seemed to go really well to start with.

The plough belonged to my landlord, but I have just bought it off him. It's got a mishmash of parts on it, some borrowed or adapted from an old Ransomes plough he previously used. It's a long way from ideal in many respects, but it's better than using a spade or paying someone else to plough it for me.

It pulls along nicely behind the 3050 at very low revs in H2, and I'm confident on getting it properly in the ground and keeping it level.



This is the bit that gets me. They don't line up at all well, but they are so haphazard at present I don't know which one to base the others on. The trash not being buried isn't following an obvious pattern to then cross reference the skimmers with, if you see what I mean?
Try to find which skimmer or skimmers are doing a good job and set the rest the same. Remember that the trash that is not being buried will be 14” over from where it started, so don’t confuse it with the skimmer in front.

Ploughing is an art and far too many do it with a that’ll do attitude.
That’ll do will not ever do when ploughing properly.
There is nothing more pleasurable than making a good job, knowing that nobody else could have done it better, because you set that plough as well as anybody could possibly do.

Don’t be afraid to tinker. I’d want to make sure all the points and mouldboards are in the same ware condition first. The make sure the plough is level ( front and rear furrows are ploughing at the same depth) and even more importantly that is is running vertical and not leaning over when you look at it from behind. Also make sure that the front furrow is taking exactly the same width as the others.

Only when these are right, can you set the skimmers to finish the job of buying the trash. They need setting so that that trash ends up at the bottom of the furrow ahead of it and NOT up the sloped side of it.

Make sure all the skimmer bodies are in the same ware condition and that the skimmer points are too. Do not mix Ransomes and Dowdeswell skimmers up. The are quite different. Only when they all match can you set them the same.

Forward speed can drastically alter their effectivenes. On older ploughs you can alter theie angle to compensate. The later types you couldn’t, but this had the advantage of them not twisting round on the shaft it they hit a stone.

Using a disc on the rear furrow can sometimes make that skimmer need a slightly different setting than the rest.
@DrWazzock settings are spot on. I’d follow his advice.
 
Last edited:

New Puritan

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
East Sussex
@Simon Chiles - 'bringing up horrible yellow clay' is exactly what has happened here and there, especially on the headlands. I really want to plough as shallow as I can get away with.

@Two Tone - thank you - and I'm not afraid to tinker, but I'm just after some direction from the experts as to which things to tinker with first.

From what you have all said, I feel fairly happy with what I should now look for, so thank you all :)

I have found a video of the beginning of the ploughing, when a friend was driving for me (and I was filming). It doesn't look too awful to me, other than he's having to steer to the land a bit by the look of it and the back furrow looks higher than the others.

.
 
Right
At the end of that video to me the plough looks like the front furrow needs to be bit deeper(top of plough leaning to unploughred ground)
The furrows seem to be a bit up n down to confirm that
The legs of the plough should be 90degrees to the ground looking from the back,as your ploughing either get someone to look or stop with the plough in the ground(but with pressure on .if you notice when you stop the plough falls away from the furrows)
So start with basics
Rear tyres exactly same pressure
Drop arms on rear linkage both exactly same length
Plough 90degrees to ground
Front furrow cutting 14 inch wide by 7 deep
Rear furrow cutting what front is doing
 

DrWazzock

Member
Location
Lincolnshire
Okay, bear in mind you're speaking with a newbie / relative nincompoop here - are trash boards those long things that stick out from the shins?

My ploughing does not have to look of competition standard (though nevertheless that would be nice). I asked the power harrow the other day and it said it couldn't care less (within reason).

@DrWazzock - am I ploughing too shallow then? What board should be used for shallower ploughing?
I think you will be OK at 7" on clay. On the sand here they tend to push it across rather than turn it over at shallow depths.

I'd say the video looks quite respectable.

YCN boards are used for very shallow ploughing. I have no experience of them so can't comment on them.

Bringing up yellow cack was always a bit of a problem on clay here, but there is still time for frosts and rain to weather it so could be OK,

If I was going to the effort of ploughing, I wouldn't plough any shallower than 7" or stuff like blackgrass seed can sprout and find its way up between the furrows/lumps.

It'll be fine.
 

Forum statistics

Threads
186,753
Messages
4,255,448
Members
46,798
Latest member
Quidam
Top