William Emil (10) Goble developed the Goble farm disc in the early 1930s. Emil was a son of John (9) Goble. The Goble family has been involved in some aspect of farming since patriarch Thomas Goble immigrated to Massachusetts from Sussex, England in 1634. Although Emil tried his hand at farming on a number of occasions, he never enjoyed much success at it. His forte was equipment. Emil had a knack for taking a piece of farm equipment and improving it. Many old farmers have claimed the Goble Disc revolutionized farming in California and throughout the West.
The Goble Disc was important because it was the first disc that would turn at the slightest nudge and would last longer than just a season or two. It was the first disc harrow constructed with a sealed oil-bath bearing system that lubricated the turning parts while keeping out the dirt and sand. The typical discs of the day couldn't withstand the impact of dirt on the unprotected bearings. Dirt in the bearings chewed discs up like hungry termites in a woodpile.
Emil worked in his rural Fresno County, California barn to build the first Goble Disc and received a patent on his bearing invention. He tried to sell the invention to a major disc manufacturer in Los Angeles but the manufacturer wasn't interested in the new technology. Emil began building the discs in his barn by himself, one at a time. Eventually, he saved enough money to buy 20 acres of land along the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks between Fowler and Selma, California. In 1934 he built his manufacturing plant. He worked in half of the structure and lived in the other with his wife, Ida (Stoddard). In the first year in the new facility he built 17 discs. The reputation of the disc spread rapidly and before long he was designing and building discs to do a variety of farm tasks. He made discs for building levies and seed beds and for cultivating vineyards and orchards.
A "squadron" of Goble discs pulled by one Ford-Ferguson tractor could cover a piece of land up to 34 feet wide. This setup was used extensively on the San Joaquin Valley's vast west side and in the wheat lands of Oregon and Washington. Although the disc hasn't been manufactured for years, a few survived and were being used on small valley farms, even into the 1970s and 80s.
Emil made his fortune on the success of the Goble Disc, but he was also a man of faith who gave away a great deal of his wealth before he died in 1949.
by Ronald Ivan (12) Goble
Other farm inventions by William Emil Goble include the Massey-Harris Goble Heavy Duty Offset Disc Harrows and the Goble Shredder/Caterpillar used in vineyards.
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