2010 - Volume #34, Issue #2, Page #17[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Corn Picker Expert Rebuilds Machines, Makes Parts
But finding machines in good condition can be a problem. New Idea, the biggest manufacturer of ear corn pickers, stopped building units in the late 1970's. No manufacturer makes a new corn picker and most used pickers are set up for 40-in. rows. Finding a narrower machine to match today's row spacings isn't easy.
Reuben Zimmerman, Barnett, Mo., saw the market for rebuilt corn pickers and parts about 10 years ago so he started a business called "Picker Paradise". He buys used New Idea corn pickers from farmers across the U.S. and rebuilds them, converting wide row models to narrow row. If he needs parts that aren't available, he builds his own.
"I've always harvested with corn pickers, because I like feeding ground-up ear corn. It makes great feed for dairy cows," says Zimmerman. "The percentage of farmers who use corn pickers today isn't very high, but I'm in business because I think there will always be some farmers who use them."
He has buyers in several states looking for machines. "There are still some pickers on farms that haven't been used for a long time, and eventually people get tired of keeping them in storage and put them up for sale. I also buy pickers in poor condition just for the parts."
When Zimmerman first got started, he had to figure out how to convert a wide row model to narrow. "It's quite an involved process. Halfway through my first one I wasn't sure if I'd ever get it finished, but it turned out good," he says. He converted a few more models and sold them to area farmers.
"Over the years I've sold 50 pickers. Most of them sell for $3,000 to $4,000," says Zimmerman. "I work on models with both 8 and 12-roll husking beds. I even have some Amish customers who use horses to pull their corn pickers. They hitch the horses to a power unit, which is then hitched to the picker."
Finding replacement parts for corn pickers is getting to be a problem, he says. "A lot of parts aren't available through New Idea any more, which is why I started manufacturing hard-to-find parts. I figured someone has to make the parts, or else there will be a lot of disabled machines out there."
One of the most popular parts that he builds are rubber paddle wheels, which replace the original rubber finger wheels on the picker's husking unit. "The original rubber finger wheels get brittle and break off, and they're very expensive to replace. My replacement paddle wheels sell for only about one fourth as much as the finger wheels."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Reuben Zimmerman, 64757 Hwy. C, Barnett, Mo. 65011 (ph 573 378-4172).
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