David Anderson didn't say goodbye to school buses when he retired from teaching. He bought a 1968-model bus from the Denver, CO, public school system where he taught and converted it into a big square bale hauler.
“Used school buses are plentiful and inexpensive,” says Anderson, a Burr Oak, KS, forage producer who also runs a custom baling and trucking business. “Plus they've been very well maintained — they need to be in order to haul kids.”
While juggling dual careers teaching and growing forages for over 30 years, he learned the importance of getting bales off the field quickly and efficiently. His first bale hauler “works very well and eliminates the need for another loader tractor, semi-trailer or additional person,” Anderson points out.
He spent over a year building the patent-pending hauler, which can pick up, transport and stack bales. It has a diesel engine, automatic transmission, long wheelbase and enough capacity for twelve 3 × 3' or eight 4 × 4' bales. It can be driven safely over the road at highway speeds, too.
He credits Jamie Ferris, Universal Hydraulics, Hastings, NE, for designing the hydraulic circuitry and Larry Oren, L & M Steel, Colby, KS, for assisting with design and construction.
They cut off the bus behind the second window and constructed a slanted flatbed or table that extends up over the cab. The conversion allowed ample space for an enclosed battery compartment, factory door and two adjustable windows, and provided a lower center of gravity.
The machine has two hydraulically powered loading arms controlled by seven toggle switches inside the cab. Equipped with self-centering clamps, the arms pick up a bale, place it on the bed and then return forward for another bale. When the load is full, the table above the cab elevates, allowing bales on top to slide back where they're ready for stacking.
Anderson and Oren are converting another school bus into a bale hauler for round bales.
“We hope to field-test that one in the Colby area this summer,” he says.
The square-bale hauler is for sale now; the one for rounds will be when completed. For more information, call Anderson at 785-647-6321 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.