Friday, May 4, 2012


A single horse ploughing – the whippletree is the horizontal wooden bar just in front of the plough
Whippletrees are used in tension to distribute forces from a point load to the traces of draught animals (the traces are the chains or straps on each side of the harness, on which the animal pulls). For these, the whippletree consists of a loose horizontal bar between the draught animal and its load. The centre of the bar is connected to the load, and the traces attach to its ends. Whippletrees are used especially when pulling a dragged load such as a plough, harrow, log or canal boat or for pulling a vehicle (by the leaders in a team with more than one row of animals).
A swingletree or singletree is a special kind of whippletree used for a horse-drawn vehicle, and the term swingletree is sometimes used for draught whippletrees generally.
A whippletree balances the pull from each side of the animal, preventing the load from tugging alternately on each side. It also keeps a point load from pulling the traces in onto the sides of the animal.
If several animals are used abreast, further whippletrees may be used behind the first. Thus, with two animals, each will have its own whippletree, then a further whippletree will balance the loads from their two whippletrees – this arrangement is sometimes known as a double-tree, or for the leaders in a larger team, leader-bars. With three or more animals abreast, even more whippletrees are needed; some may be made asymmetrical to balance odd numbers of animals. Multiple whippletrees balance the pulls from the different animals, ensuring that each takes an equal share of the work.

“commenced raining about 7 o’clock this morning and rained about an hour quite hard.  Two or three more showers before noon.  I fixed up some whiffletrees this forenoon.  Plowed for barley this afternoon.  Cleared off very pleasant this afternoon.”

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