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They Repair Or Buy Damaged Forage Chopper Boxes
Bill Waterman and his family rebuild chopper boxes to “nearly as good as new” within a 500-mile radius of their Boscobel, Wis., shop.    
    “We work with insurance companies as well as individuals who call us in when a chopper box gets damaged,” says Bill Waterman, Waterman’s Forage/Chopper Box Repair and Sales. “We determine actual cash value, give them a bid to fix it, and one for salvage. Many times we can fix it for half what it would cost to replace.”
    Waterman started the company after being asked by a friend to repair a shaft on his chopper box some 30 years ago. At the time he ran a sawmill, doing mechanical repairs on the side. When a tornado damaged a bunch of chopper boxes, owners heard Waterman could fix them. Soon insurance companies and owners of damaged chopper boxes were calling, and Waterman stopped sawing logs.
    This past winter he and his wife Sheri turned the business over to sons Brock and Thad. However, when Thad developed a rare form of cancer, Bill and Sheri stepped back in to help.
    Over the years the tools, equipment and skills needed grew with the business. “We have to be able to do woodworking, mechanical repair, welding and painting,” says Waterman. “We like to do our own recovery work, so we have to have trailers equipped with winches. We also have a large skid steer with winches front and back to take to jobs if needed. We are pretty well set up now. We can handle most anything, including the newer, large truck-mounted boxes.”
    When Waterman says repair, he isn’t talking about just pounding out some dents or replacing a part or two. “We take the head off, lift the top off and remove the sides,” says Waterman. “We take the floor off and make any repairs needed to the frame or running gear. When we put it back, we make sure everything is perfectly square.”
    If damaged, the head gets special attention. The Watermans tear it apart, replacing any damaged parts and realigning it before putting it back together. “We use a stationary motor to run and test the head and then the complete box,” says Waterman. “We check the webs and bearings and then run it for about half an hour to be sure everything works as it should.”
    In a final step, they attach a sticker to the head with the company name on it. Waterman recounts with pride being told that chopper boxes with their name on it at auction will outsell those without it. That includes the ones so badly damaged the insurance company or the owner sold them for salvage.
    “We rebuild about 75 percent of the boxes but, if salvaged, they may go for parts or I’ll fix them over winter,” says Waterman. “I write the former owner’s name on the box, and when it is fully repaired, I’ll offer it to them for my price. About 75 to 80 percent who come to look at their old chopper box take it home with them. If not, they go on our sale lot.”
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Waterman’s Forage / Chopper Box Repair & Sales, 15970 Dry Hollow Rd., Boscobel, Wis. 53805 (ph 608 375-5616; service@chopperbox.com; www.chopperbox.com).

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2018 - Volume #42, Issue #5