Our annual trek to the Minnesota Inventors Congress in Redwood Falls found a collection of creations from devisers of designs - many of which could soon hit the market.
Conjure up an image of an inventor and you'll probably come up with a wild-haired, bespectacled man in a white lab coat frantically working over bubbling test tubes. Not so with the inventors we talked with at this year's show. They're as normal as you and me and think practically when creating their time-saving ideas for the farm. Yet many have created what may become a mother lode.
LPEFI. The Liquid Propane Electronic Fuel Injection (LPEFI) system from Bi-Phase Technologies was the Grand Prize winner at the show.
The company devised a way for its propane injector system to work the same as a gas injector but with more power. It generates more horsepower and torque than gasoline, has quicker throttle response, will be cheaper to run than gas or diesel and rates below Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle standards (ULEV), according to the inventor.
The unit comes complete with a 56-gal. fuel tank and is now available for Dodge trucks with 8,800- to 15,000-lb. GVWR and a 5.9L, V-8 engine. It will be available on Ford and all Dodge trucks by March 1999 and on Chevy and GMCs by August 1999. Bi-Phase's warranty will cover the engine and the catalytic converter. Price: $2,500. Contact Bi-Phase Technologies Inc., Dept. FIN, Box 146, Lake Lillian, MN 56253, 320/ 664-7000.
Bulk Seed Tender. Inventor Gary Stienessen built his Bulk Seed Tender with three hoppers to carry three different varieties of seed at one time. Each hopper carries 60 bu. of product.
The unit can be mounted on a truck, running gear or gooseneck trailer and is equipped with its own scale to weigh seed as it's loaded or unloaded. Price: $6,500. Contact Gary Stienessen, Dept. FIN, Rt. 1, Box 23, Taunton, MN 56291, 507/224-2236.
Slider Hitch for no-tillers. Place seed between residue rows and reduce the havoc that stubble can create on tractor tires and gauge wheels with Paul Schlobohm's Slider Hitch.
While you drive down the previous year's tire tracks, a hydraulic cylinder on the hitch allows you to slide the mounted planter 8 in. to the left or right to plant beside residue.
Handy Rinse. Also from Schlobohm is this chemical tank rinse system that is quick, safe and easy.
Jugs in 1- or 21/2-gal. sizes are placed on top of the unit's rinse pipe. As chemicals empty out, the rinse system sprays the inside of the jug to comply with triple-rinsing rules. Prices: Not available at press time. Contact Paul Schlobohm, Dept. FIN, 47527 219th St., Aurora, SD 57002, 605/693-4346.
Mirror Wipers. Keep your truck or tractor side mirrors clean and clear for safe driving with Mirror Wipers from inventor Arnold Rudningen.
A toggle switch mounted in the cab of your truck or tractor lets you operate windshield wash fluid and the wiper as needed. The wiper fits any rectangular mirror, uses standard wiper blades and operates on 12v. Contact Arnold Rudningen, Dept. FIN, 4878 E. 255th St., Faribault, MN 55021, 507/334-7641.
Veteran inventor. It was Tim Krohn's second year at the show and once again his ideas won him an award.
Krohn's T-Screen will keep dirt, debris and bugs from flying in the back window of your pickup. The screen attaches to the truck with hook and latch material. It comes in aluminum or black finish and features weather stripping to keep water from settling between the window frame and the T-Screen. It's available in any size.
His other product, the Silver Squeegee, is deemed a must for livestock producers. The long-handled squeegee features a high-powered trigger that forces water through a hollow, aluminum tube to the squeegee where holes are drilled. Pressurized water sprays through the holes while you clean floors or walls. Prices: Not available at press time. Contact Krohn Industries, Dept. FIN, Rt. 1, Box 79, Winthrop, MN 55396, 507/834-9806.
Supermower. Why would anyone ditch a perfectly good swather just because it isn't used anymore? Jule Jacobson proves that you can put an old swather to new use with his Supermower.
This past winter he bought a 1983 Owatonna 260 hydrostatic swather and a 7-ft. Befco cyclone mower. He lowered the swather 13 in. to lower the center of gravity and narrowed the power unit 38 in. so its wheels would track inside the mower's deck.
The hydrostatic drive provides zero turning radius and the mower can be front mounted.
According to Jacobson, it's easier to mow because you look straight ahead without craning your neck, and it gets in spots other mowers can't reach. A farmer/observer lamented that he just got rid of his Owatonna swather; now after seeing Jacobson's Supermower, he wishes he hadn't. Contact Jule Jacobson, Dept. FIN, Box 53, Porter, MN 56280, 507/296-4514.
Roller Chain Ruler. John Kapphahn grew tired of counting each and every chain link at the parts store when he needed chain replacement. What he devised is so simple, you'll wonder why you didn't think of it yourself.
Kapphahn's numbered Roller Chain Rulers feature sprockets that hold broken or new chain. The numbers coincide with how many links of chain you'll need. Kapphahn notes, no matter if you need to replace a 15- or a 150-link chain, his ruler will eliminate a miscount.
The rulers come in 40-, 50- and 60-count sizes (50- and 60-count rulers also count heavy chain). They're made from recycled plastic milk jugs and are unaffected by gas, solvents or oils. Price: Set of three, $29.95. Contact Roller Chain Ruler, Dept. FIN, Rt. 1, Box 85, Elbow Lake, MN 56531, 218/685-4604.
Garden Master. This labor-saving device, built by Noren Olson, can plant up to 1/4-acre gardens and who knows if it could lead to row-crop farming. You plant in a circular pattern while sitting on the unit's carrier. The carrier is mounted on a 60-ft.-long beam that features a pulley system; as the Garden Master circles the row, you turn a wheel to move up and down the beam in desired row spacing. The unit runs on a gas engine (for cultivating or planting) or a 12v electric engine (for harvesting) and is available with either a hydraulic drive or a belt and chain drive. Center posts allow you to plant more than one garden; simply transfer the unit from post to post. Olson is looking for a manufacturer. Contact Noren Olson, Dept. FIN, 930 3rd St. N., St. James, MN 56081, 507/375-4454.
All-terrain drum mover. Bruce Hawkins' Drum Hustler II lets you move and rearrange 15- to 85-gal drums (weighing up to 1,000 lbs.) without the risk of hurting your back. The two wheeler uses balance and leverage to put most of the weight of the drum on the unit. A yoke hugs the lid of the drum and a foot pedal hydraulically raises it for transport. Larger tires let you travel over rough terrain. Price: $355. Contact Circle H Industries, Dept. FIN, 7882 E. Hwy. 92, Hereford, AZ 85615, 520/ 366-5540.