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Power Reels Are Real Work Savers
“I made a rather crude cord reel way back in high school shop class, and it worked so well that I expanded on that idea over the years and built several more,” says Minnesota farmer Robert Bauer. His heated farm shop now has at least seven custom-made reels, including that high school original. No two reels are alike.
  “For the high school project, I bent two pieces of 1/2-in. rod into a 2-ft. diameter circle, then welded metal pieces about the size of a cell phone to the rods and onto a center core. I put a drive shaft through the core and welded a large sprocket on one end. I found the sprocket on an old check-row corn planter in our junk pile. To power the reel, I ran a belt from an old electric motor to a gearbox from a Cushman scooter. A roller chain connects a small sprocket on the gearbox to the large sprocket on the reel. The roller winds cord onto the reel when the gearbox is engaged and releases it when the gearbox is in neutral. It worked great then and still does.”
  Most of the basic parts for Bauer’s other reels came from old farm delivery fuel trucks. He bought a few at auctions, found others at scrap yards, and even rescued one from a junk dealer’s trailer who was making a pickup at his farm. He built sturdy metal frames to hold the reels and mounted them in several locations around the second level of his shop. Each one is controlled with a drop cord and switch box hanging down at eye level on the main floor.
  A large reel by the main shop door holds 100 ft. of 1-in. water hose. Bauer put a centrifugal booster pump on that one to provide 50 lbs. of water pressure at the nozzle, more than doubling the original hydrant pressure. Another reel is powered by an old 1/2-in. electric drill that delivers power to a gearbox. Others are run by electric motors. One made from an old hay winch winds and unwinds 200 ft. of 220 electrical cord. A collector ring from an old silo unloader directs power to the cord.
  Bauer says ideas to build the reels usually came to him in the middle of the night. “In the shop, I put them together by trial and error, using gear reducers to get the correct speed so they’d slowly take up air hoses and electric cords,” Bauer says. Most of the reels are activated by a solenoid that engages a lever to the gearbox. A regulator reduces 120 lbs. of air pressure down to 30 lbs. so the reels engage slowly.
  “I’m not a person who makes the same thing the same way twice, so the reels are all different,” Bauer says. “The first one has that Cushman transmission with a right-angle gear reducer. I dialed in the speed by using different size pulleys. Another one uses a gearbox from a Badger forage box, and another has the variable speed drive from a portable Owatonna feed mill. Even though they’re all different, they all work well, and if something goes wrong, I know how to fix them.”
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Robert Bauer, 10162 160th St. E., Hastings, Minn. 55033.

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2023 - Volume #47, Issue #2