How the Bale Knotter Works

The automatic bale knotter allowed a single man to pick up and bale hay without help.

  • Grain Binder Knotter
    This grain binder knotter is a close cousin to that on an early automatic tie baler. Dave Braun, Sheboygan, Wis., has created a unique show display; a grain binder knotter mounted on a stand. He's demonstrated the piece at local shows and fairs. It is now part of the Sheboygan County Museum collection.
    Photo by Dale Braun

  • Grain Binder Knotter

Although balers with their own pick-up assemblies were available as early as the 1930s, the real key to success was the automatic tie baler that allowed one man to pick up and bale hay in the field without additional help.

The key, of course, was the automatic bale knotter. Ironically, automatic bale knotters on modern balers work so quickly that even some farmers don’t fully understand how they work. The following explanation was provided in an early John Deere baler manual:

1. After the needle has been threaded, the end of the twine is held in the twine disk by the twine holder. As the bale is formed, the twine is pulled from the twine box around the bale.

2. When the bale reaches its proper length, the measuring wheel trips the tying mechanism and the needle, with the help of the tucker finger, brings the second strand of twine through the guide on the knife arm, across the bill hook and into the twine disk.

3. The gear teeth on the intermittent knotter gear then operates the disk driving pinion and turns the disk sufficiently to permit the twine holder to secure both strands of twine in the disk. At this stage, the bill hook starts its revolution.

4. As the bill hook turns, it forms a loop of twine around the hook and the jaw opens to receive the twine. The knife also advances, ready to cut the twine between the bill hook and the disk. At this stage the needle begins to recede, leaving twine in the disk, which will be held there for the next knot.


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