Putting a Spin on the Roto-Baler’s Round Bales

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A brochure showing the Allis-Chalmers Roto-Baler in action.
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Allis-Chalmers produced a booklet touting the advantages of "rolled" hay.
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Another advantage of the new Allis-Chalmers Roto-Baler, according to a booklet produced by the company, was that it was a "one-man" machine.
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The Roto-Baler in action, from a company advertisement.
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An early ad touted the "roll-up compression" of the baler, which meant that Roto-Baler bales were not tied with string, but rolled up tight with string or wire.

The Roto-Baler has an interesting history. Allis-Chalmers literature explains that the company bought the patent rights from a Nebraska farmer, Ummo F. Luebben, who in 1910 patented a machine that gathered hay, rolled it into a large round bale, wrapped string around it and ejected it.

In 1940 Allis-Chalmers Corp. was convinced that round bales were the answer, so the company purchased Luebben’s rights and adapted his ideas to an AC machine. Six experimental machines were built a year later and tested in the Midwest to great success.

Next, the company had to persuade sales people and farmers that round bales were a better alternative to square bales. They had to convince them that more leaves were left on the stems, the bales unrolled more easily when feeding cattle and could be left outside on the ground where they remained protected and useful. The sales crew also had to argue that cattle liked rolled hay better because it didn’t have sharp ends to jab their mouths.

Within three years of production, more than 23,000 balers had been sold. Selling price in 1947 was $935 (roughly $9,175 in today’s terms). In the 1950s, Allis devised a way to wrap untied twine around the bales, saving time and labor.

At one point a second conveyer was mounted above the lower one on the Model 10, which was supposed to eliminate the need to stop during twine wrapping. But the process didn’t work well and many of the converted balers were retrofitted to the standard type. These double-conveyer Model 10 balers were designated with a C prefix on the serial number.

By the time production was halted in 1960, more than 75,000 Allis-Chalmers Roto-Balers had been sold. FC

For more information: Allis-Chalmers Roto-Baler Launched New Approach

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