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The Baler Man

Author Photo
By Staff

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One-sixth scale John Deere hay baler.
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Ron Schultz stuffs straw into his one-third scale model of a 1923 Case hay press during the Enid Antique Power Show at Garfield County, Oklahoma, fairgrounds. Photo by Bill Edson of the Enid News and Eagle, reprinted with their compliments.
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One-sixth scale baler with my custom built 'LA' pedal tractor.
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One-sixth scale baler with electric motor for inside shows.
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One-eighth and one-sixteenth scale hand operated hay presses.

6000 Quail Lane Enid, Oklahoma 73703

My parents were always farmers and I was born and raised on a
160 acre farm near Breckinridge, Oklahoma. I learned from my dad
its many operations and became very familiar with his methods of
making a farm work. At the early age of 10 years, I was old enough
to help with the straw baling, Dad said. So, I was given the job of
sitting beside the baler, poking wires, putting the divider block
in the baler, and pulling the bales away from the back of the
baler.

In those days if you were baling a straw pile, you had to drop
and stack the bales away from the equipment to a safe place just in
case an overheated bearing or gasoline engine set fire to the dry
straw. At least that was the story told to me, but it sure made it
very handy for the old trucks and wagons to load up to put the hay
in the barn.

This was no small task for a small boy of 10, and it made the
days very long as by noon I was tired enough to call it a day.
However with something in my stomach and a little rest, I somehow
got a new surge of energy and somehow managed to make it through
the afternoon. It was always hot and dirty, and quite often, when
helping a friend or neighbor, stopping for a drink was unheard of.
Not until a block was ‘accidentally on purpose’ tied to a
bale did you get time to visit the water jug.

This method was used by most farmers in our area and Dad used
this method until the baler was later built on wheels with a pickup
attachment that picked the hay up in the field or several farmers
would pitch the hay away from the stack as the tractor driver drove
around in circles and baled the hay.

By the time I had graduated from high school the self-tying
baler was available, but I migrated to the big city and two years
later married. Dad continued to use the square baler, hiring local
help for hauling the bales into the shed. I still was fascinated
with this method of baling whenever we would visit the farm or help
him whenever time permitted.

Now in my early years of retirement, my wife and I have become
involved with old iron, steam engines, crafts and yes, even toys.
One fall day several years ago, while creating a nativity scene, I
had an idea of using small bales to help enhance the set. My wife
visited a local craft shop in search of the small straw bales, but
returned without them, saying all they had was blocks of styro foam
dipped in glue, rolled in ground-up straw and a black string
wrapped around it.

Now, after being born and raised on a farm, I could not settle
for such a poor substitute, so I told her I would just make my own
bales. After a hearty laugh and a little ribbing she left me to my
thoughts. I soon began to think of a way to accomplish the
challenge I had just taken on myself. A couple of weeks later after
the morning breakfast, I said, ‘Today I am going to build a
miniature hay baler.’ Again this disbelieving grin told me she
had her doubts; however, I headed to the nearest junkyard in search
of the material I would need.

I was unable to locate the correct size tubing for a
1/16 scale baler. I did, however, find a
larger size tubing. After having made my purchase, I hurried home
to put my ideas to work. I spent the rest of the day cutting to
size, having my friend Roy weld it together again, grinding, more
cutting until I had my 1/16 tubing. By early
evening, I had managed to make a crude looking hand operated device
which did indeed make a bale 1′ x 1′ x 3′ in size. I
had done what my wife thought was impossible. Now that I had turned
my idea into a bale-producing baler, she would have to believe
me.

Needless to say, this has started a new era in my life. I
started showing the baler whenever we would set up at toy shows and
soon I was getting requests to make more so that people could add
it to their collection of toys and also to engage in the bale
making process. It was about this time that we were challenged to
make a larger bale, preferably one that was 2′ x 3′ x
6′ in size.

Now I have really caught the baling bug. How I regretted as a
child to have to work with this baler on the farm. How could
something so awful then be so much fun now? Never mind that now, I
just had to have a larger baler. Then I read in an issue of the Gas
Engine Magazine where a fellow in Wisconsin was advertising plans
for a ? scale baler. My heart leaped with excitement and I lost no
time getting to the phone and giving him a call. Shortly thereafter
I received the plans in the mail.

Could I be losing it? Not on your life! Plans under arm and a
whole lot of gusto, I once again headed for the shop. This would
prove to be quite a challenge for me this winter. I started looking
for an old water pump jack, small gears, flywheels, pulleys and
bearings. I fully realized that I needed everything to make the
baler. I also knew that I was not a machinist and this would
complicate things but not make them impossible. I had made wooden
things for my wife and made other wooden items for years. What
could be so different to make things of metal? The answer to this
would confront me many times before the baler would be
completed.

By now I need some metal lathe work done, so down to Art’s
Machine Shop in search of my old friend Jim. Jim turns down the old
metal shafts to the new size, cuts the pipe to correct length to
make bearing holders, then back to my shop for more welding and
sawing. There was many a trial and error over the next two months
but things were shaping up. With a few minor changes here and
there, a different adjustment somewhere else, remove a key that was
not necessary, and lo and behold a new shiny replica of a 1923 Case
hay press appeared at the front door of my shop.

By the time I had completed the baler, painted it and let it
work at making a few bales, it was time for the Oklahoma Steam
& Gas Engine Show at Pawnee, Oklahoma. It is now May of 1992.
It was the envy of both young and old alike. Children didn’t
know what it was, the older gentlemen would recall how they had
done that in their younger days and would fill you in on how they
did it. The most rewarding moment of the day was when two small
boys, after watching the baler work, decided they were going home
to become farmers.

The June show in Kingfisher, Oklahoma, was filled with much of
the same, as was the Windfield, Kansas, Steam Engine Show in
August, and end the season at the Enid, Oklahoma, Antique Power
Show in October. The booth with little working baler was never in
want of a crowd or conversation. The leather face of the farmer
with his many tales of his younger days, and once in a while even a
tear would fall from an eye as they told their stories, to the
young face of the boy wanting to learn the ‘what fors’ and
the ‘whys’ of the whole operation.

It makes you feel good at the end of the day to know that you
may have brought back a little of the past to the children of the
future. Even my wife Darlene enjoys visiting with all the
spectators, showing them how she uses the little bales and giving
them new ideas.

Two years have gone by since my original idea was born, and once
again the wheels of my mind were at work again. If I could make a
smaller version of the ? Case baler, it would go into the trunk of
the car. A small Maytag engine or a small electric engine would
enable me to run it indoors. Now, we could set up in shows much
farther away from home. So in the early winter of 1993 I pulled out
the plans for the ? size Case baler. Again, many hours of searching
scrap heaps for gears, pulleys and all the necessary parts to begin
a 1/6 scale began. By working sometime into
the late evening I had a model ready for operation by mid-summer
and showed it for the first time at the Fairview, Oklahoma,
Two-Cylinder Show. The Two-Cylinder Show had prompted me to paint
the baler John Deere green to blend in with the John Deere
Two-Cylinder Show we planned to attend.

The rain was a factor in the day and large crowds stopped to
watch the baler in action and our awning also was giving them
protection from the elements. This baler produces bales that are
2′ x 3′ x 7′ in length.

By now word had spread about the fellow from Enid making small
balers that actually work. We now have four size balers that do
work and make four sizes of bales. Sometime during the day I was
given the title of ‘Baler Man’; most people know who you
are talking about.

As we write this it is fall, and the wife and I are getting
ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and looking forward to the
new run of toy shows, craft shows, and old iron shows next spring.
We always meet such nice new people, see our old friends from
previous years, and visit places we have never seen before. It sure
does make the golden years of retirement the best years of our
lives.

Gas Engine Magazine

Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines