Ernest Bruha was tired of looking back while moving big round bales off his fields, so he and an old college friend, a design engineer, decided to move forward – literally. They came up with the Two Banger Bale Accumulator, which picks up bales on each side of a tractor while traveling forward. Hydraulics then move the bales to the rear for easy maneuvering through gates and unloading.
“I have spent a lot of years picking up big round bales in reverse,” says Bruha, who farms 1,500 acres of alfalfa, corn and pasture with his dad Bob, and operates a beef feedlot near Burwell, NE. His invention, designed by Gregg Cooper, Ansley, NE, not only makes it easier for operators to do the job, but it also saves fuel and labor.
“It will cut your accumulation time in half and pay for itself in fuel and labor,” Bruha says. Not having to go into reverse to pick up bales reduces operator fatigue, minimizes soil compaction and saves on tractor wear and tear. The Two Banger comes in a convenient, economical, three-point attached package, has a lube-free design and can be used on twine- or net-wrapped bales.
After dreaming about the attachment for three years, Bruha enlisted Cooper’s help.
“We’ve spent two to two-and-a-half years developing and getting this machine out. I knew what I wanted and he made a lot of it happen on the computer. He could see how it actually moved and worked,” says Bruha, who then constructed the first prototype. “It worked on the very first try.”
From then on, they spent time making the machine easier and quicker to build, “with the least amount of moving parts and the least amount of things to go wrong. We improved on the tines, making it easier to pick up bales. At first we just had sharp points on them, which would go in the ground very easily if someone didn’t watch what they were doing.”
Now the tines have “more of accumulator-style teeth, where you can’t poke them in the ground. And they’re adjustable to whatever size bale you have. You can slide the teeth on the toolbar to set them wherever you want.”
So far, the prototypes have been sold and additional units are being made at a local shop in Burwell. Bruha, who also has a custom manure-hauling business called Mason City Enterprises, hopes to have his employees build machines in its shop during the winter work lull.
Bruha and Cooper have formed the company Cobra IP and are looking for dealers across the U.S. “We will sell some direct, but we would like to get a dealer network set up.” A patent is now nearing approval; they hope to apply for patents overseas to sell the unit internationally, too. The two friends have several other ag-related inventions in the works, Bruha adds.
Cooper notes that the Two Banger works well with a front-end loader on a tractor. “You can increase your accumulation speed even more and pile at the same time,” he says.