New Idea Hay Loader a Big Hit

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Hay loaders of this type were pulled by horses or a tractor trailed by a hay wagon. Workers forked hay onto the rack until the wagon was filled.
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Glenn and Ann Holicky with their New Idea corn picker.
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Glenn’s New Idea hay loader at work in the field during the Le Sueur County (Minn.) Pioneer Power Show.
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After years of inactivity, chains on the New Idea hay loader had to be tightened in order for the unit to work properly.
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Hay is picked up from swaths and then travels up the loader, cascading over the top to a wagon.
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Glenn’s New Idea loader appears to predate the company’s purchase of Sandwich Mfg. Co. in the 1930s. Before that time, New Idea loaders had some wood components; after the purchase, New Idea began making all-steel loaders.
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The ground-powered New Idea must be in motion to operate; the unit’s front wheels provide the power.
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A finger-device is used to disengage the clutch, allowing the loader to be pulled along a road or put into a shed without engaging its working parts.

Glenn Holicky became an old
iron collector when he was in his 20s. But his love of old machinery began when
he was just a child. “Dad bought a new Massey-Harris combine when I was 7, and
I was just amazed by that machine,” he says. “He’d get into the field with it
and after a while he’d say, ‘If we could keep the combine moving all the time,
we could make up a lot of time during the day,’ because it took at least five
minutes to stop, unload and get going again each time the hopper was full.”

His solution was to have
Glenn drive a Massey Ferguson 35 tractor with a wagon alongside the combine
when the hopper got full. “I was so excited to drive alongside the combine
under the unload spout while the grain was unloaded,” Glenn recalls. “I was
proud and amazed by the combine and it just grew on me. I couldn’t wait for
school to get out and the grain to turn yellow so I could help with the

That fervor burns bright
today: Glenn has a complete collection of every Massey-Harris self-propelled
combine ever made, except the original one his father had. “He traded it in on
a larger one, and years later I looked for that old combine but I couldn’t find
it,” Glenn says. “But I do have one of the scale models.”

Show sensation

When Glenn started
collecting old machinery, he wanted something different – so he started
collecting old combines. Remembering the equipment he grew up with, his first
choice was Massey-Harris. But a New Idea hay loader slipped in almost by

Ten years ago, Glenn and his
father-in-law, Bob Riebel, were at a farm south of Lake Washington, Minn.,
with two trucks and trailers, loading machinery Bob had bought. “We hadn’t gone
there for the hay loader, but that was part of the deal,” Glenn says. “The guy
wanted us to take it so everything would be cleaned up.”

The New Idea languished in a
shed for six years until Glenn gave it a second look. Looking for new ways to
liven up demonstrations at the Le Sueur County (Minn.) Pioneer Power Show, he remembered the
piece in the shed. “I figured a lot of the kids in the 20-to-30-year-old age
range had never seen anything like this,” he says. “So we loaded it up five
years ago and took it over to the show grounds and started using it.”

Dating to the 1930s, the hay
loader was in good shape; all it needed was oil and grease. “It worked
beautifully,” Glenn recalls. “A lot of these kinds of machines were built by
New Idea, John Deere and McCormick-Deering, and a lot of them are still around,
but the wood is rotted off many of them. It was pretty unique to get hold of
this one, because it’s in such great shape. We’ve kept this one shedded all the

Horse-powered hay loader

For the first couple of
years, Glenn hooked up the loader to an International Model H tractor with a
wide front end. Last year he decided to try it with horses. When friends
offered use of their team, the plan moved into high gear.

“That’s how a loader like
this was usually used,” Glenn explains. “The horses straddled the hay while the
hay loader went over the swath and picked it up. The hay went up the rake teeth
and was pulled up until it slid off the back of the loader into a chute and
into a wagon.”

There, a couple of men with
3-tine pitchforks forked it back until the wagon was full. Back in the day,
sling ropes would then be attached to the barn’s carrier to lift the load of
hay and dump it in the barn. Alternatively, Glenn says, some farmers forked the
hay into the mow or else made round haystacks in the field.

Trying a new idea

To operate the machine in
demonstrations, usually twice a day during the show, Glenn brought a round bale
of marsh hay, unrolled it and used pitchforks to spread it into two swaths.
Then the loader was pulled over the swaths just as it would have been in the
field. After each demonstration, the swaths were reformed – a lot of hard work
for three days. Last year, after rain showers kept the demonstration in dry
docks, Glenn figured the hay would be too wet if it was unrolled, so he tried,
well, a new idea.

“I was leery of straw,
because I’ve never loaded it before,” he says. “I was afraid it was too fine
and the loader wouldn’t push it up. In order for the machine to work, the hay
on the bottom has to keep coming and push up the hay on the top, so it takes
25-30 feet of moving over a swath to have enough hay to feed it all the way up
to the top.” But in practice, the straw worked fine.

The hay loader’s heyday came
a bit before Glenn’s time, but he had an idea how it worked. “What surprised me
was how well it worked,” he says, “picking up the swath and putting it right
into the wagon like it was supposed to.”

Years ago, he says, if the
hay was dry, a farmer would use a 5-foot hay mower and go right down the swath
with the hay loader. If the hay was thin or had been wet, the farmer raked it
into a swath to dry and then picked it up. Clogging the loader could be
dangerous, Glenn figures. “The wheels would slip and the pressure could break
some of the boards,” he says, “as wood is what was used to pull the hay up and
over the back and into the chute.”

New Idea corn picker

Glenn and his brother, Gary,
had been looking for a 1-row New Idea corn picker to help make a more realistic
experience for visitors at the annual Le Sueur show. “I knew New Idea made a
fantastic corn picker for its time,” Glenn says. “I’d seen them still used into
the 1970s. They built a really nice picker that would pick corn nice and clean,
and the machine was popular.”

Glenn and Gary found a No. 7
New Idea 1-row corn picker at an auction. Their winning bid won them a piece in
fine working condition. “Almost nothing needed to be done,” Glenn says. “Those
pickers were pretty trouble-free. We tightened a few chains, oiled and greased
it up good and brought it to the show. Those pickers never really were worn
that badly because they never picked a thousand acres; they picked 20-30 acres
and went back in the shed. None of them were worked very hard.”

More New Ideas

Glenn said he’s heard New
Idea also made a very good steel-wheel hay rake, one with two wheels in front
and two swivel wheels in back. “That would fit in the with the New Idea hay
loader,” he says. “We’re using a pretty modern rake now, a New Holland 56, so I
thought we’d better get back to the era of the steel wheel hay rake and make it
more authentic.”

The New Idea loader can’t be
used in a stationary position. “It is ground-driven, powered by its own two
front wheels,” Glenn notes. “Years ago they didn’t haul them; they pulled them
down the road.”

When the machine was pulled
from field to field, a pair of slip clutches – one on the outside of each axle
– allowed the loader to be moved to its next position without the workings
moving. “That shut off the pickup and loading part until they got into the
field,” Glenn explains, “where the clutches were engaged and the machine
started up.”

A big hit

Glenn says the New Idea hay
loader has become a hit at the Le Sueur show. “People really love it,” he says.
“They come down to the field and sit on straw bales we’ve set out and watch.
They’re just amazed by that loader. It’s one of our star attractions; so many
people have never seen one in operation. One year I wasn’t going to run it, and
my wife said, ‘You have to run it. People are waiting to see it.’ People are
just thrilled with it.”

That kind of enthusiasm
keeps Glenn fueled up. “This hobby can be a lot of work, but I’m still looking
for more old stuff,” he says. “Old iron brings up good memories of people
working together.” FC

For more information:

— Glenn Holicky, 36086 221st Ave.,
Le Center, MN 56057.

Read about the beginnings of a successful and inventive company in Joseph Oppenheim’s New Idea.

Discover even more about  the New Idea line in 1939 New Idea Manure Spreader Restorationand Iron Age Ads: New Idea Corn Picker.

Bill Vossler is a freelance writer and author of
several books on antique farm tractors and toys. Contact him at Box 372, 400 Caroline Ln., Rockville,
MN 56369;

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