Allis-Chalmers Roto-Baler Launched New Approach

The Allis-Chalmers model 10 Roto-Baler put a new spin on hay baling

| March 2011

When Don Brown couldn’t find anybody to haul his John Deere 70 tractor home at a satisfactory price, he took matters into his own hands. He decided on a unique solution, which is how he typically solves the challenges of life: Drive the tractor 140 miles on state highways, from Rosemount, Minn., to near Burtrum, Minn. 

“Heck, I thought, ‘It’ll do 12 miles per hour, 140 miles, 12 hours or so, that’s not so bad.’ People looked at me strangely,” he says. “They thought it was kind of goofy, but it would have cost a lot of money to haul it up here.”

It’s not as if the drive was unprecedented. After all, Don pulls his unique 1949 Allis-Chalmers Model 10 Roto-Baler 30 miles to the Pioneer Days show in Albany, Minn., every fall, driving his restored 1952 Oliver 88 tractor.

Oliver man switches sides

Don started out farming with an Oliver 88 tractor, but soon became interested in Allis-Chalmers equipment — particularly an Allis-Chalmers power take-off side-delivery rake he used. His father had an Allis-Chalmers 60 combine. “I wasn’t in love with AC equipment,” he says, “but I saw they had a lot of unique designs.”

He owns an Allis-Chalmers 90 combine (which he’d like to get running so he can display it at shows), an AC square baler and that Allis-Chalmers PTO side-delivery rake that always draws big crowds at shows. “Most rakes are ground-driven, but this one is driven by the PTO, and its unusual feature is that it runs in two speeds,” he explains. “If you want to turn over a new-cut windrow of alfalfa without much loss, you can drive fast with the tractor, but the rake will turn slowly so it won’t beat the leaves off. Or you can run it at a faster speed.”

Don first heard about the Roto-Baler as a kid. “I remember going to St. Cloud a different way than normal one day and seeing an Allis-Chalmers Roto-Baler setting there,” he says. “I stopped to see if the owner wanted to sell it.” No luck. Then he spotted another one nearby. He asked that farmer if he wanted to sell. “He said, ‘No, I use it all the time.’”