Letters to the Editor

Remembering a one-of-a-kind buck rake


| November 2007



Buckrake.jpg

In 1979 we sold our farm where we had a dairy herd for 33 years. After selling I had more time for my hobby of woodworking and I built wooden models of farm machinery. I now have over 50 various tractors and each one has a farm implement attached. Many industrial machines are in my collection. This photo (top) is my model of a buck rake we built.

While I was still in school in the 1940s, we were making hay with horse and wagon, and hay loader. We put on more cows and that meant more hay was needed. My brother and a hired man built a buck rake and I helped when I got out of school.

We started with a 1927 Cadillac Coupe with a V-8 engine. We stripped the body leaving only the hood over the engine. The Cadillac had a PTO on the transmission, which had an air pump to fix tires. This was perfect for a gear attachment to run a hoist to raise the basket or load after loading. We attached a Plymouth differential and transmission over the PTO. This gave us three speeds to lift the basket.

We cut the left axle on the differential and welded the drive shaft to the housing so all the power was sent to the right side. On this side we welded a spool using two brake drums to wind a 38-inch steel cable through a pulley system to lift the basket. An emergency brake was attached to hold the spool and the load of hay for transport. The hay basket was 12 feet wide and 16 feet long. It was made of ash and each tine had a metal tip.

The Cadillac was long and fast. It was not built to carry a heavy load, so we added helper springs from an old Plymouth on the back. Speed was the advantage. It would go nearly 25 mph in reverse, which helped greatly loading hay. Then going to the barn was a quick task. My brother found if you loaded it the best you could, then drive off leaving the load, get another load, and come back and back into the first load at high speed, you could acquire a load of nearly 1 ton. When lifting this load sometimes the front wheels hardly had enough weight to steer the machine.

We used the hay sling system in the barn. A sling was laid on the barn floor and the buck rake would drop a load on the sling. I would hook the sling and haul it into the mow with a Farmall A. If the hay field was near the barn my brother could get hay to the barn faster than we could put it away. We used this system until about 1955 when we purchased a pick-up baler.