Nebraska farmer Dean Thompson says there's lots of old center pivot irrigation pipe available "for almost no cost" in his area and he's already taken advantage of that fact to build two bale wagons and a calf shed using the heavy-duty 6-in. dia. pipe.
The biggest trailer holds up to 14, 5 1/2-ft. round bales or 17, 5-ft. bales in two side-by-side rows. It was built with 7 lengths of pipe arranged in two cradles. Thompson grouped three trailer house axles together at center to support it, and mounted a gooseneck hitch at the front. "If I were building it again, I'd use one set of truck duals in place of the trailer axles because I've had some trouble with the tires on the trailer house axles when hauling around 8 tons. They're not designed to handle the weight," says Thompson.
He built a second, narrower bale trailer that holds one row of 5 or 6 bales. "We can't use the big trailer after dark because of the narrow roads in our area," notes Thompson. The trailer was built with 5 lengths of pipe and is fitted with a 3/4-ton Ford rear axle equipped with 16-in. tires. One of the side bars on the trailer drops down so the trailer can be unloaded by gravity without the need for a tractor loader.
Thompson also built a calving shed out of pipe and says pipe would work great to put up other farm buildings. "This calving shed is portable so it needs to be extremely strong. We cut the ends of the pipe on 45-degree angles to form the corners and welded them all the way around, making for very rigid construction. Long lengths of angle iron mount vertically inside each corner, welded to the pipe, hold the pipe frames up. Sheet metal sides were screwed directly to the pipe. A rail across the open front of the shed keeps cows out and calves in," says Thompson, who "junks out" old center pivots for other farmers and keeps half the pipe as payment.