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Amish Farmer Builds Stainless Steel Manure Spreaders
Several years ago, when Levi Miller was a young 24-year-old farmer, he started rebuilding old manure spreaders for friends and neighbors. Miller says he tackled the tough work because every bearing and pivot point on used spreaders eventually wears out, and not every owner wants to fix the problems. A local Deere dealership where he acquired parts suggested that instead of repairing old models that maybe he should start building new ones. Taking that advice, Miller built 2 brand new ground-driven 95-bu. models in 2012.
   “The top rails, top beater, wings, back wings, shields, beater bars, apron bars, widespread paddles and links on my spreaders are 100 percent stainless steel. We put all 2060 chains on the beaters and the web has a 5-speed ratchet drive. We use high quality 3/4-in. plywood for the sides and bottom, and install a 1/8-in. plastic liner. I asked the farmers we made them for if they wouldn’t rather have a stainless steel floor, and they said they preferred a plastic liner.”
   Miller’s design has held up so well that 5 years later the original owners say the spreaders “are as good as new”. Miller has also built a 95-bu. spreader with all stainless sides and polyboard bottom using the same mechanisms and selling at the same price.
  Miller says his brother-in-law helped him change the pivot point on the ratchet arm to alleviate the “bam-bam-bam” noise common to many commercially made spreaders. His design replaces that action with a smooth ratcheting mechanism that hardly makes a sound and greatly reduces stress on the drive. Another improvement is lining up the grease zerks on the outside of the shields rather than having them located on pulleys behind shields.
  For the front of his spreaders, Miller uses new axles and channels similar to those on a wagon. “I put the pulling point 3 ft. behind the front end and installed wagon springs so when the spreader encounters a bump the whole front axle can give, which reduces a lot of stress and provides a smoother ride for the farmer,” Miller says.
  In addition to pull-type 4-wheel spreaders they also build 2-wheel tractor spreaders and single-beater endgate spreaders. Deere roller pin bearings are used on all the beaters and main axle. Miller says roller bearings hold up better for wear.
  Miller adds, “Our goal is to build a tough, hard-working and low-maintenance spreader that will last a long time. They work extremely well for manure, and we also have an attachment available to convert them into lime spreaders.”
  Prices are $6,675 for a 2-wheel 75-bu. spreader up to $7,450 for a 95-bu. 4-wheel model. Stainless, polyboard or plywood are specified at the time of order. A stainless steel spring-loaded endgate is also available.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Levi Miller, E12371 Dutch Hollow Road, La Farge, Wis. 54639.

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2017 - Volume #41, Issue #3