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Cockshutt 555 Combine Converted Into Bale Loader
I had been using a 65 hp 2-WD loader tractor to feed round bales to my cattle. This worked well during the winter, but during the spring and fall, when the ground was soft, the bale's weight pushed the front steering wheels into the mud, causing ruts and a lot of frustration. Mounting a bale on the tractor's 3-pt. hitch helped, but not a lot. The best cure for this problem would have been to use a front wheel assist tractor, but I couldn't justify the cost.
  To solve the problem, I converted my 1970 Cockshutt 555 combine into a bale loader. I removed the threshing parts, leaving the engine, cab, transmission, and running gear intact. The sides of the combine were cut down 2 ft. at the back to improve rearward visibility. Then I bought an older Dual 324 front-end loader and mounted it on front of the combine. I moved the entire engine and cab compartment backward 18 in. so the loader would clear the cab as the bucket is raised. The engine and cab were also lowered 4 in. to allow use of the existing traction belts. The brake rods, hydraulic control, and belt tensioners had to be modified to accommodate this change.
  To mount the loader, the lower loader mounts were bolted to the combine's front axle while the upper mounts were bolted to a horizontal square tube located just below the cab. Two large struts originally ran from the square tube to the main frame rails at the back of the combine, so that loads created by pushing with the loader are transferred to the combine structure. The combine's existing hydraulic pump is still used to operate the loader. However, at low engine speeds the loader moves slowly so I plan to replace it with a larger one.
  To add weight on back, I mounted a large steel box over the combine's rear wheels and filled it with 10 cubic feet of rocks. The extra weight allows the machine to lift 1,200-lb. bales without the steering wheels coming off the ground.
  The walker housing was modified to cover the back of the machine, and a two-piece shroud was fabricated to completely enclose the engine.
  The combine's original 318 cu. in. Chrysler LA industrial engine started having problems so I replaced it with a 318 cu. in. automotive engine off a 1978 Dodge 1/2-ton pickup. I also extended the exhaust and installed a new muffler to make the machine more quiet. The rig's big tires allow it to wallow through greasy mud and deep snow that my tractor could never handle. The cab has a lot of lights on it, which makes it a joy to feed bales at night. The hydrostatic transmission works well with the constant direction changes encountered in handling bales. The loader has such a long reach that I can load hay trailers from one side and also throw bales way over fences. I haven't used the rig to pull my 11-bale trailer yet, but I don't think it'll have any problems.
  I paid $750 for the loader, $100 for the engine, and $100 for the muffler so my out-of-pocket cost was under $2,000 (Canadian). My conventional feeding tractor hasn't moved in several months, which is evidence of how well this machine works. (Andy Bailey, Box 13, Libau, Manitoba, Canada R0E 1C0 ph 204 766-2262)

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2001 - Volume #25, Issue #3