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Allis-Chalmers 110 manure spreader Tony Wolfe
READY TO SPREAD: You aren’t seeing things — this manure spreader unloads from the front. Tony Wolfe, Gibson County, Ind., uses this spreader to distribute straw.

Unique manure spreader filled need

Throwback Tech: Yes, a company really did make a "backward" manure spreader!

When someone you know as a great guy, but also a jokester, approaches you at a meeting and starts talking about his manure spreader that unloads at the front, your wheels start turning. Maybe this guy has finally gone over the edge.

Tony Wolfe, a Gibson County, Ind., farmer and director on the Farm Credit Mid-America board, soon put that notion to rest. He produced pictures on his cellphone to prove he wasn’t kidding.

“It’s an Allis-Chalmers Model 110 front-unload manure spreader,” he explained. “See how clean it is? That’s because I used it to spread straw for bedding. It still works well.”

Once the shock wore off, my next logical question was simple: Why did a machinery company build a manure spreader that unloaded from the front? Every other solid-manure spreader built in the first several decades of manure spreaders used a conveyor chain driven by the PTO to move manure to the rear. Beaters then spread manure across the field, behind the spreader.

What people say

There aren’t written accounts from former Allis-Chalmers engineers to back up this explanation — at least, none were discovered in my search. But Wolfe’s explanation makes sense.

“There were lots of Allis-Chalmers WD-45 and WD models out there when this spreader was first built,” he said. “They tended to be lighter than some other tractors. With a normal manure spreader, when the weight got to the back, ready to enter the beaters, the tractor sometimes lost traction. By reversing the chain, the weight ended up at the front, and the tractor kept its traction.”

Tony WolfeAllis-Chalmers 110 front-unload manure spreader


VIEW FROM THE REAR: This isn’t a view from the drawbar, it’s from the rear of the manure spreader looking forward. This is an AC 110 front-unload manure spreader.

Wolfe’s thoughts are backed up in discussion threads at yesterdaystractors.com. Consensus is that the company’s engineers figured out they could shift the weight balance scenario from negative to positive for the tractor by moving the weight of the manure forward rather than backward.

After all, the company already knew how to distribute material out to the side instead of behind like most machines. The early Allis-Chalmers combines discharged from the rear — but to the side, not straight back. There is no indication that played into the thinking for the spreader, however.

The AC 110 spreader first appeared in the late 1950s. Unofficial internet reports indicate about 1,500 units were made at LaPorte, Ind., in different variations. Early models used two beaters; later models used three. It was inexpensive compared to other spreaders.    

Reportedly, it was dubbed the Model 110 because its capacity was 110 bushels of manure. Bushels was the unit of measurement for manure spreaders in those days.

Some enterprising internet writer quipped, “Well, at least Allis-Chalmers could stand behind their manure spreader.” Give that some thought!

Thanks to Wolfe for sharing pictures and proving this spreader certainly is real.

Comments? Email tom.bechman@farmprogress.com.

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