Forage Harvest Brigade:
October 15, 2007
Roger Dachel, a machinist by trade, builds pristine pedal tractor implements as a hobby. “I make pedal tractor implements for my enjoyment. I get the greatest pleasure building those never before made in pedal tractor scale. I also like to get as many working parts into the piece as possible,” stated Roger.
Roger and Diane Dachel reside in the quiet community of Chippewa Falls, located in northwest Wisconsin. Known as the gateway to the Northwoods, Chippewa County offers countless recreational opportunities with more than 300 lakes. And, the fertile land throughout the area supports a variety of thriving agriculture enterprises.
As Roger is very modest, Diane fondly reflects on his creative talents in building high detail and precision equipment. While working in maintenance for a food processing business, Roger refined his equipment building prowess. Rather than ordering equipment to specification as required by the company, Roger would be called on to build the machinery. During his employment, Roger developed a fledging home business, Chippewa Stainless, where he fabricated specialized equipment for area businesses. When the project became too complex at work, Roger would enter into a contractual agreement and build the unit at his business.
Chippewa Stainless expanded over time. The business manufactured a wide variety of equipment and support material.
“I never dreamed that my home business would become the mechanism for my hobby building pedal tractor implements,” related Roger.
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As with many avid craftsmen, Roger would play out his boyhood memories. During his youth, Roger operated a wide assortment of equipment working on the farm. He logged countless hours on his uncle’s farm throughout high school. After high school, Roger worked on his parent’s farm until age 20.
“I was gone from the farm for good when I left home, but I always carried an appreciation for farm equipment with me. One day my neighbor and friend, Dayton Bowe came to me with an idea. Dayton collected pedal tractors and asked for my assistance in building implements to accompany the tractors,” shared Roger.
The concept of building detailed pedal tractor implements struck a familiar cord with Roger. Not only had he operated a variety of farm machinery, he watched and studied the equipment being operated by neighboring farmers.
“Dayton had a number of good ideas for the first implements. They included a flail chopper, a self feeding wagon, a side delivery rake, an elevator, a field sprayer and more. Together, we set about building them. We were pleased with the results, but I wanted more,” indicated Roger.
The skilled craftsman challenges himself more than collectors or admirers. So it was with Roger. He observed the limited number of pedal tractor implements being offered by others He also looked more critically at his first creations.
“The implements being offered by others lacked detail. My first pieces were nice, but I wanted them more complex. I wanted greater detail. And, I wanted more of the parts to work. I wanted my custom built implements to be as close to the original manufactured equipment as possible,” expressed Roger.
With a more critical objective, Roger raised his personal bar of excellence in making pristine pedal tractor implements. He studied the equipment first hand, when it was available. He also studied prospective implements through the manufacturer’s promotional material on the internet.
“If it was worth fabricating, it was worth fabricating with precise detail. I don’t always get it right the first time. Check out my trash bin. It is full of mistakes and disappointments. But, I keep after it until I am satisfied,” mused Roger.
Roger’s six row corn planter built to pedal tractor scale took on greater precision. There are six realistic discs with tamper wheels. The grain boxes have removable lids secured with internal springs. Hoses are included with the hydraulic. And, the marker arms are outfitted with discs.
The most unique and detailed implement to date is Roger’s kicker-baler.
“I put a lot of thought and time into this one. The pickup head runs and is ground driven. The auger back of the head runs. The flywheel turns. There is a lever to adjust the hydraulic pressure on the bale. The needle points receive the twine held by the twine box. And, the aluminum pan has a kicking mechanism that works just like the real deal,” recounted Roger.
Equipment with this sophistication prompted Roger to setup a life-like operation. The concept of a Forage Harvest Brigade evolved.
“I had built the flail chopper and self-feeding wagon earlier. I next built a forage harvester complete with self-unloading wagons. The construction of silos with blowers came next. Finally, the setup was completed with appropriate fencing for the feeding area,” reflected Roger.
The silos were constructed by securing two steel 55 gallon barrels together.
“I tried plastic barrels, but paint would not adhere properly. The dome tops were cut from the end of fiberglass sprayer containers. The ladders are made from stainless steel and secured with rivets. Blower pipes are made from exhaust pipes that I found at an auto shop. And, the blowers are generic in design, but similar to those made by Gehl or Kool,” related Roger.
The principal material used in constructing these precision implements is stainless steel. In the case of the forage wagons, the flooring and sides are constructed from wood. The running gear, the top, the front, the beaters and even the drag chain are made using stainless steel.
The prospects for building high detail pedal tractor implements for resale are unlimited. The limitations are directly related to the interest and willingness of collectors to pay the premium price required in construction.
Roger has sights on a number of additional implements.
“I have plans to build more equipment. To date, I have made implements like those I operated when growing up. I may build something more contemporary. If other collectors have interest in the implements I’ve made, I’ll make them available. My primary interest in building pedal tractor implements is for my personal pleasure, however,” commented Roger.
Advice for the Novice
Planning, buying materials and eventually making something results in personal gratification. Too often the novice builder becomes frustrated when the project fails to materialize as anticipated. Roger shared this very sound advice for the beginner,
“First, have patience. I am doing it as a hobby and not to make money. Diane supports the hobby because she knows it’s a form of enjoyment for me. Don’t expect to get it right the first time. It may take several attempts. Again, I have a barrel full of mistakes. Eventually, I worked through whatever the obstacle may have been and prevailed. Finally, take time, have patience and enjoy what you are doing.”
If you would like to learn more about Roger Dachel’s pedal tractor implements, you may call (717) 723-9234.