Farmer Builds Self-Propelled Bale Hauler

"When your only job is to haul big round bales, you need machines that continue to work and make you money," says Paul Marshall, Unity, Sask.

The commercial bale handlers he looked at didn't do a good enough job, were hard to maneuver into the feed yard, or simply cost too much. So, the Unity, Sask. custom operator built a self-propelled unit. The machine will pick up big round bales, haul them and upload them without the operator having to leave the cab.

"We bale 'em and trail 'em," he says. "We make money and we save our customers money because they don't have to invest in specialized equipment. Besides, we can move bales much faster and further than most."

The first test for his hauler was in bales that had wintered over in the field. They weighed close to 2,000 lbs. each.

"When the loader fingers went under them, and we heard the hydraulic system cut in and saw the bale that was frozen into the ground come up and roll onto the platform, we knew we had a winner."

Marshall and his business partner begin baling and hauling in mid-July and continue until the snow stops them. "Last year, I was hauling in late November in the snow. One farmer had a few bales still in the field, so he plowed a road to them and I hauled them out."

His first bale hauler was a Morris Bale Hiker pulled behind a Chevy 3-ton. It did a good job but was very difficult to maneuver around a feed yard, he says.

Marshall made some "crude sketches" of what he thought would do the job and showed them to a local farmer, Gordon McLean. Over the next three months, they built the hauler.

The bale hauler is built on the chassis of an old truck. "But I won't do that again," Marshall says. "We had to make too many changes to incorporate the various hydraulic cylinders, the engine and radiator."

McLean agrees. "If we were to build another, we'd look for a good transmission, differential and engine, and mount them on the frame of the hauler."

The machine is 32 ft. long and carries 12, 5-ft. bales or 10, 6-ft. bales. The loader can be adjusted to load most sizes of round bales.

The cab is roomy and is built so the operator can sit or stand. The suspension seat takes all the roughness out of the fields. A water cooler and fan control the cab's temperature.

As a bale is approached, the loader fingers slide under the bale and lift it. When the bale reaches a certain height, it rolls off the loader and across the platform, leaving room for the second bale. As soon as the second bale is on the platform, a Capstain winch moves the two bales back to make room for two more.

The Capstain, or endless winch, is the key to the bale mover, Marshall says. "Once we figured how to move the bales back on the platform and get the carrier returned after each two bales were moved, we had no trouble. It works like a charm."

To unload, the hauler is backed into position and the platform raised. The bales slide off or can be winched off as the machine is moved ahead.

Marshall hauls bales anywhere within a reasonable distance from his home base at Unity. The machine will travel at speeds up to 50 miles per hour.

(Reprinted from Grainews, Winnipeg, Can.)