PINE STRAW INDUSTRY BACKGROUND
To date the pine straw baling industry is dominated by hand labor. A team of workers first rakes the pine straw into piles. Pine straw is pushed into the open top of a hand powered baler with a pitchfork. When the chamber is approximately filled to the top, hand labor is used to pull down a lever which causes the pine straw to become compacted. However, this only compresses the pine straw to some degree. Usually the chamber has to be "topped off" several times with straw and compressive strokes have to be applied after each "top off" to result in one completely compacted mass of pine straw. The mass is then tied with twine or wire. The length-wise door is opened and the bale is removed by hand and placed aside. The door is then closed and the process begins again. This hand operated technique requires a considerable amount of time and effort.
CLARK DORMAN'S MOBILE PINE STRAW BALERS
Consequently, it would be an advance to provide a mechanically-powered pine straw baler over one of the classic hand-powered ones. It should be light enough so a single operator can maneuver it through a pine forest over tree roots, small bushes, and other obstacles. It should be small enough in size so to easily fit between close-growing pine trees and to be maneuvered around obstacles like rocks or small trees that might prove too large to go over. It should compress the pine straw into a bale in a single compressive stroke, simplifying the loading operation, and should automatically eject the baled pine straw from the chamber once the baling process is complete. It should also be mechanically simple so to avoid jamming, which is oftentimes a problem in pine straw baling due to the pine cones, branches, vines, and other materials that happen to get raked up alongside the desirable straw. Clark Dorman has used this information to design a pine straw baler specifically for the pine straw laborer, one that requires half the work and provides twice the output in a given time frame.
The mobile baler has controls to make it go forward or in reverse. It is light enough to turn left or right using manpower due to the pivoting wheel located at its front. This makes it easy to maneuver in a pine forest over or around the roots, rocks, bushes, or trees that tend to serve as obstacles.
A hydraulic compression arm is used to compress the pine straw into a standard size bale in a single compressive stroke. The arm is powered by a gasoline-engine-powered hydraulic pump which uses hydraulic fluid to extend the arm. This greatly reduces the amount of manpower needed to produce a single bale of straw. It also takes away the need for "topping off" the straw in order to get a standard size bale because of the arm's ability to compress the entire lengthened chamber's worth of straw. Also, after the bale has been compressed and tied off, the hydraulic arm pushes it out the end of the loading gate and then automatically retracts. All in all, the amount of manpower required has been reduced to less than half as before.
HIGH SPEED TRAILER
The mobile baler comes with a hitch attachment and can be hooked to the back of any vehicle and transported down the highway. The pivoting wheel at the front is detachable, allowing the two rear tires to roll down the road. There is a location on the baler where the pivoting wheel can be placed for highway transportation.