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Skid Steer Loader
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The Skid Steer Loader History.
History on tractors, hydraulics, attachments,
the evolution revolution of farm equipment and and the modern day Skid
Steer loaders and the companies and individuals that invented and produced
The skidsteer first came on the scene when a Minnesota farmer needed
a loader to work in the tight confines of a turkey barn. Two blacksmith
brothers, Cyril and Louis Keller, created a small machine at a blacksmith
shop to meet the farmer's needs. The Melroe brothers, of Gwinner, ND, bought
the rights. Later they refined the machine and introduced the Melroe Self-Propelled
Loader in 1958. The loader was a 2-wheel drive unit.
They later added front wheel drive and introduced the first true skidsteer,
the M-400 in 1960, and the "Bobcat" name was added in 1962 to the M-444
model. (More History)
History Segments :
Manufaturing Company The Bobcat Story "Birth of The Skid Steer Loader"
Mfg. Inc.George and Marilyn Loegering Track History
Ferguson Hydraulic 3-piont Hitching System
Ford "Fordson "Automobile Plough to "New Holland" Tractors
The Case Company
THE BOBCAT STORY
"Birth of The Skid Steer Loader"
The Melroe Manufacturing
Company was founded in 1947 by Edward Gideon "E.G." Melroe, the son of
Norwegian immigrants. Located in the small community of Gwinner, North
Dakota, the plant was established to meet the increasing demand for a grain
harvesting attachment and spring-tooth harrow which E.G. had developed
on his farm. The Melroe Pickup was E.G.'s first invention, a device used
on combines that could efficiently pick up windrows of grain with minimal
loss of kernels.
The company business revolved almost exclusively around production and
sale of these two farm implements until the late 1950s. Following E.G.'s
death in 1955, his sons Lester, Clifford, Roger and Irving, and son-in-law
Eugene Dahl, took over the business. Clifford was its president.
The Melroe business might have continued much in the same vein but for
a fateful and important meeting in 1957 with Cyril and Louis Keller, brothers
from Rothsay, Minnesota, who had a small machinist-blacksmith shop from
which they repaired machinery for local farmers.
Sometime earlier Eddie Velo, a turkey farmer, had come to the Keller brothers
with a problem: He could not maneuver his loader around the upright poles
in his barn. The Keller brothers agreed to help Velo by building a self-propelled
loader light enough to be lifted up to the second floor of the barn and
maneuverable enough to clean around the poles.
They searched local junkyards for materials and ideas. Finally they pieced
together a 3-wheeled loader with two drive wheels in front and a small
caster wheel in back. Powered by a 6 HP engine with a rope starter, it
was steered by independent right and left control levers. The fork tines
of the front scoop were made from bars taken from the windows of the local
Rothsay jail, the only steel the Keller brothers had found that was hard
enough to do the job.
Word about the Keller
invention got out. The Kellers' uncle, a Melroe farm equipment dealer at
Elbow Lake, Minnesota, showed the loader to Les Melroe. Recognizing the
potential the small loader had, Les and his brothers bought the rights
to the invention, and Louis and Cyril Keller became employees of the Melroe
The Keller Loader, as the original machine was called, was improved with
a larger 9 HP engine, and thus a new product line for the Melroe Company
was born—the three-wheeled Melroe Self-Propelled Loader. Although the loader
had several unique capabilities, including the ability to turn 360 degrees
in its own length, it was apparent that further improvements were needed.
In 1959, Melroe came out with the M-200, a three-wheeled loader powered
by a 12.9 HP gasoline engine and sporting the oval "Melroe" logo. Despite
the improvements of the M-200 over the original Keller Loader, its three-wheel
design still had several drawbacks, including lack of stability, power,
and traction. A separate set of drive wheels was added to the back so the
loader could pull itself through mud.
Thus, in 1960 was born the model M-400 which, with four-wheel-drive, was
the first true skid-steer loader. Although this design was to revolutionize
the world of compact material-handling technology, the M-400 did not set
any sales records.
From 1960 through 1962, work continued on an improved version—the M-440—which
was introduced to the marketplace in 1962.
By the late Sixties, the Melroe product line had grown to include the Melroe
Pickup, the Harrowweeder, multiweeder, moldboard plows, and the increasingly
popular Bobcat skid-steer loader. The moldboard plow came with Melroe's
acquisition of Reiten Manufacturing of Cooperstown, N.D., in 1967.
At the same time
(1962), attention was also given to a catchy name for the maneuverable
loader. It was a Melroe associate who first suggested that the loader be
called a "Bobcat" in honor of the prairie animal which was "tough, quick
A logo was developed which featured a bobcat animal leaping inside of double
ovals. The logo and slogan, "tough, quick, agile," were used in nationwide
advertising to promote the qualities of Melroe's unique machine. That logo
appeared first on the M-440 and remained in use until 1977, when the current
design was introduced.
Further design improvements made the new M-444 model loader a real success
in 1963. As this compact 4-wheel loader became more accepted, it quickly
became apparent that it had uses in all kinds of applications in industry
and construction. Thus, the product's capabilities brought a change to
the Melroe organization, moving it away from its primary focus on the agricultural
By 1965, the Melroe plant in Gwinner was producing record numbers of Bobcat
loaders to meet the demand of various markets from fertilizer plants to
building and road contractors, from municipalities to foundries, and more.
A SKID STEER LOADER BOBCAT WITH HYDRAULIC ROTARY CUTTER BUSHWHACKER1