Use of the King road-drag (Chase).
The use of the drag is more satisfactory if the road has first been crowned with a blade grader, but whenever this is not convenient and the traffic is not too heavy, the road may be gradually brought to a crown by means of the drag (Fig. 19).
The surface of the average country road should be covered in one round with the drag. One horse should be driven on the inside of the wheel track and the other on the outside, the drag being set, by means of the chain, so that it is running at an angle of about forty-five degrees with the wheel track and working the earth toward the center of the road. In the spring, when the roads are more likely to be rutty and soft it is generally better to go over the road twice and in some places more times.
The drag should be floored with boards which are separated by open spaces of sufficient width so that the dirt which falls over will rattle through, and yet they should be close enough so that the driver can move about upon the drag quite freely.
To insure the successful operation of the drag, it is necessary for the driver to use careful judgment. Sometimes it is essential that the blade be held down so that the drag will cut roots and weeds, while at other times the front edge should not bear too heavily upon the surface, as it will dig out a soft place which would be better if left undisturbed. This regulation of the cutting edge can be accomplished by the driver moving back and forth or to the right and left on the drag.
Fig. 19. - Road drag. It is faced part of the length on the front with a steel plate.
If the road is to be crowned with the drag, it is often well to plow a light furrow along the sides and work this loosened dirt to the center.
On roads with heavy traffic the drag should be used much oftener and with more care than on roads with light traffic.
The distance from the drag at which the team is hitched affects the cutting. A long hitch permits the blade to cut deeper than a short hitch, likewise a heavy doubletree will cause the cutting edge to settle deeper than a light one.
Strange as it may seem, the heavier the traffic over a properly dragged road the better the road becomes.
When to use the drag. - There are very few periods of the year when the use of the drag does not benefit the road, but it does the best work when the soil is moist and yet not too sticky. This is frequently within a half-day's time after a rain. When the earth is in this state it works the best, and the effects of working it are fully as beneficial as at any other time. The Nebraska soils, when mixed with water and thoroughly worked become remarkably tough and impervious to rain, and if compacted in this condition they become extremely hard.
This action of the soil in becoming so hard and smooth not only helps to shed the water during a rain, but also greatly retards the formation of dust.
What may be expected from the use of the drag. — It often takes a whole season for the road to become properly puddled and baked to withstand the rains and traffic. After a road has been worked with a drag only a short time, it is not well to expect it to stand up to heavy traffic during a continued damp spell without being affected. However, it will take far heavier traffic than most earth roads receive to more than scuff up the surface.
It is not well to consider the benefits from a good road as solely confined to heavy traffic, for there is no doubt but that the time saved to light vehicles and the greater pleasure derived from their use over good roads far surpasses the economy in heavy hauling.
While driving over a well-crowned-smooth road, the team does not have to follow the usual rut, no slacking has to be made for irregularities in the surface, and it matters not whether one or two horses are being driven.