Updated June 23, 2011
Instead of hauling one or two bales at a time with his tractor, David Anderson used his brain to save time.
He converted a school bus into a bale hauler.
Anderson has two bale haulers – a round bale hauler and a square bale hauler. The square bale hauler can pick up and haul 12 three-by-three bales, or eight four-by-four bales, and the round bale hauler can pick up and haul seven to eight round bales.
Two hydraulic arms squeeze the sides of the bale and lift the bale to the “table” on top of the bus cab. The table lifts up at an angle, and the bales slide down to the back of the bed, which is set up at an angle. When you are ready to unload, the forks at the end of the bed drop down, and as you drive away the bales slide off.
“I can mount the hauler on any type of vehicle; you just have to change the angle of the bed and the points of your lift arms,” says Anderson.
Anderson purchased an old school bus from a school district to mount the bale hauler on. The bus has an automatic transmission so the driver won’t wear out the clutch, has a diesel engine, drives faster than a tractor and uses farm-grade diesel.
Used school buses usually don’t cost more than $4,000 and have been kept in excellent condition. Anderson paid $2,000 for his first bus. He says if you use flotation tires, they won’t compact the soil, but Anderson just uses the tires that were on the bus. The flat surface on top of the cab gives the hay hauler good stability, even on a hillside.
Anderson bought a 28-horsepower Kubota engine to independently drive his hydraulics. It uses the same electrical system, generator and fuel tank on the bus, and only uses about a gallon an hour.
He installed an electric clutch pump that uses a fan belt to drive the hydraulics. It’s slower than an engine- mounted pump, but also much cheaper.
“I used electric instead of hydraulic so I wouldn’t have to run all the hoses into the cab,” says Anderson.
Anderson is working to build a kit that can be sold at local dealers. Farmers could then buy their own vehicles and mount the hauler on them.
“It’s so time-consuming to just pick up only one or two bales, and drive back and forth and back and forth over the field. This way it just saves time. There are comparable machines on the market, but they’re very expensive,” says Anderson. FG
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