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Push Rack Moves Bales Fast
Howard Smith pushes so many bales around each year that he designed and built a special push rack to help. With the help of his wife Jennifer, son Josh and daughter-in-law Carissa, the central Virginia farmer bales and markets more than 220,000 bales of straw and hay each year. It goes to customers across Virginia and into Pennsylvania, North Carolina and West Virginia. Bales leave the farm in straight truck vans or semi trailers. Both used to be a pain to load.
  “We used to load them by hand, but for close to 15 years we’ve been using our push rack and loading trailers,” says Smith. “We stack 107 bales in a unit on the stacking trailer and push them into a waiting truck. Unless the stacking trailer bed is wet, they slide right in.”
  When Smith first came up with the idea, he was told it would never work. “Too heavy, it won’t work,” was one critique. Smith was determined to make it work, building a push plate out of 2 by 2 by 1/4-in. tubular steel. He also bought the largest skid steer he could at the time, adding as much OEM weight as available.
  “I overbuilt the push frame and have used lighter skid steers without a problem,” says Smith. “The stacks were easier to push than I thought.”
  The push frame was designed to match the stacks. Smith used a universal quick tach plate for skid steers and built out from it. The frame has one bar at the bottom and another at the middle of the top bale and 4 in between. The plate is just wide enough to catch the ends of each push stack.
  Bales are stored on edge under roof. Each stack is built with a grabber that can pick up 18 bales at a time from storage and set them on the stacking trailer. Each 107-bale stack is composed of 6 layers.
  “A 53-ft. trailer gets 6 pushes for 642 bales,” says Smith.
  Loads of small square bales go to about 25 Lowes stores, to contractors who use the straw for erosion control mulch and to horse stables. Trailer and van loads are left on site in the vehicles as temporary storage. When empty, the vehicle is replaced with another. The Smiths maintain a fleet of 50 trailers and 35 vans. With 2 push plates and 3 stacking trailers, they keep them full and customers happy.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Mica Mine Farm, 14066 Old Ridge Rd., Beaverdam, Va. 23015 (804 449-6395).

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2014 - Volume #38, Issue #1