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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 them.

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 :

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The Case Company

THE BOBCAT STORY
"Birth of The Skid Steer  Loader"

FOUNDING FATHERS
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.
The first Melroe skid steer loader

THE TURNING POINT
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 Manufacturing Company. 
      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.

THE FIRST "BOBCAT"
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 and agile." 
      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 market. 
      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. 

      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.



A SKID STEER BOBCAT WITH HYDRAULIC ROTARY CUTTER BUSHWHACKER1
A SKID STEER LOADER BOBCAT WITH HYDRAULIC ROTARY CUTTER BUSHWHACKER1 ATTACHMENT
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