Last month I attended the National Farm Machinery Show (NFMS), which is held every mid-February in Louisville, Kentucky. This show, as many of you probably know already, is the largest indoor farm show in the country.
Each year hundreds of exhibitors pack the Kentucky Exposition Center and show off their products to thousands of people attending the show. The products run the gamut from the largest tractors and combines to the smallest of handy devices.
While I fully appreciate the big, shiny equipment, one thing that always gets my attention at NFMS is innovative smaller products, many of which were developed by farmers themselves.
Many years ago at the show, I interviewed a small farmer from southwestern Ohio who had developed a three-point hitch system for utility task vehicles because, well, there wasn't anything like it on the market. This company was still exhibiting in Louisville this year.
Another interesting company I came across in Louisville was EZ Crank of Logansport, Indiana. The company manufactures replacement crank handles for a wide range of trailers, from hopper bottoms to models that utilize dolly cranks.
If you own any type of trailer that has a crank to raise and lower it, you know the grip of the handle usually goes bad and doesn't spin anymore, which can be hard on your hands. We have two gooseneck trailers on our farm with that issue.
According to the company's website, their handles have no bearings to deal with. The handles are a solid aluminum shaft that is pressed into the crank handle tubing, and then it is roll-pinned.
These cranks can ease cranking operations, help to prevent injuries and eliminate rusty grips. The cranks range in price from $24.99 (dolly crank handle 6-inch horizontal) to $71.99 (1.5-inch socket for grain trailers)
For more information about the EZ Crank, visit the company's website at http://www.ezcrank.com/…, call (888) 615-0407, (574) 889-2549 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another interesting product I ran across was the GateHands, a tube gate-latching system made by KB Enterprises of Ponca City, Oklahoma. Driving through the county, you often see sagging gates, which can shorten the life of the gate as well as provide an easy escape route for livestock.
Farmer Brad Fredrick needed a better way to support his pipe gates on his north-central Oklahoma farm and thought up this system, according to the company's website. After others in the area saw how well it worked, Fredrick and his daughter, Kelsey Wagner, went into business together to manufacture GateHands.
The system is made up of two pieces that fit on 1 5/8-, 1 3/4- and 2-inch tube gates. The design, which can be used on gates that are side-by-side, overlapping or even a single gate, uses the gates' own strength to hold them straight and keep them secure.
Each receiver fits snuggly over the existing gates and comes with an attached pin to secure the gates into place. One can even use a padlock for locking the gates.
The side-by-side version sells for $60, while both the overlapping and single-gate versions sell for $50.
Much like the EZ Crank, I thought the GateHands was an interesting solution to a common problem on farms. I know we have gates on our farm fastened together with chains or baling wire, and if they are heavy, there is usually a cement block under it, propping it up.
The problem comes when you have heavier-duty gates. We used to put up brome hay and the entrance into the field had two heavy, pipe gates, and they were really sagging. Something like GateHands probably would have helped those old gates out quite a bit.
For more information about GateHands, visit the company's website at http://www.gatehands.com/…, phone (580) 789-0119 or email sales@GateHands.com.
Russ Quinn can be reached at email@example.com
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