Ingenuity has always been an important commodity in North and South Dakota. Harold Gleason of Tolna, ND, and Ray Janisch of Lake City, SD, used their design and welding skills to develop unique rakes that meet their individual haying needs.

“I usually put up about 800 round bales each year,” Janisch says. “I used two Vicon rakes, one behind the other, to make the work go faster. I decided it would be even better to put four rakes together.”

Janisch owns 900 acres and raises 70 stock cows. Because he puts up ditch hay, he needs a flexible rake that works quickly in smooth hayfields and effectively in ditches. His 44'-wide wheel rake folds down hydraulically to 18'. A cart welded in the middle pulls the two back rakes. Original wheels with worn-out bearings were replaced with car wheels. He invested approximately $2,000 in the rake.

“I can rake about 35 acres in 90 minutes,” Janisch says.

Gleason, who produces hay and several other crops on more than 1,000 acres, was primarily interested in bringing windrows together to make baling more efficient. His 42' bar rake, made with four 9'6” New Holland Rolabar rakes, combines the baskets and wheels from two model 260 right-hand rakes and two 258 left-hand models. Initially, he retained the ground drives but has since installed hydraulic motors on the two front rakes so he can turn tighter corners.

“I can turn on a dime now. I never figured out the cost, but it was probably between $8,500 and $9,000.”

Axles on Gleason's rakes were shortened to approximately 2' and then attached, along with the baskets, to two new 3 × 6" rectangular tube frames. Each frame carries two of the rake baskets. The two arms meet in the center at the point where the 32.5' × 5"-square tube tongue and transit wheels from an old John Deere disk are mounted.

The center frame doesn't bear any weight but stabilizes the 5 × 5" tube and keeps it from twisting on turns. A 3"-wide steel strap that runs the length of the underside of the tube adds to the rake's stability. Truss blocks and kinks in the strap to make it lay flat also strengthened it.

A 6' hydraulic cylinder controls the rake as it works with scissor-like motion and closes it down to 13.5' for transport.

“You might expect problems if you come to a heavy patch of hay,” Gleason says, “but you can narrow the width pretty quickly so you can handle it.”

Gleason and his brother, Robert, also combined two 9' sicklebar mowers to reduce the amount of time spent cutting hay. While there is at least one similar commercial model available, Harold was never satisfied with the gear assembly on the one he bought.

“For three years I used one that came from a Nebraska manufacturer, but the gear boxes were kind of clumsy and I kept having trouble with them,” he says. “That's why I figured out how to take two 9' New Holland mowers and make one that has an 18' cut. I eliminated one of the drive shafts and this one runs on a V-belt drive. For all the equipment we've developed, I usually come up with the ideas and Robert does the modifying and welding.”