Summer is mowing season. When fall arrives, there are stalks to shred. Or at least many farmers in the mid-1900s shredded stalks. Weeds to mow and stalks to shred led to a cottage industry of companies making rotary cutters and mowers.
Some of those companies have made it to today in one form or another. Others didn’t survive changing times. Here’s a look at just a few. See how some companies wind up intertwining over time.
• Servis. Unless you have a Servis Saturn 6 rotary cutter in the back of the shed, it’s possible you’ve never heard this name. Servis Equipment Co. was formed in Texas by the Austin Bridge Co. in 1930. It even made bombs during the war. After World War II, Servis began making farm equipment, producing the first tractor-mounted rotary shredder in 1947 and the first pull-type rotary shredder in 1948. After naming changes, Servis was part of Austin Products Inc. That name changed to Rhino Products Inc. in 1981. Alamo Group purchased Rhino Products in 1986. You still find new products featured at farm shows under the Rhino Ag name. Read on and learn how a little-known name, BMB, fits in the picture.
INNOVATIVE MOWERS: Flex-wing models of Servis rotary cutters were the first to use four-speed gearboxes instead of three. The industry still uses that concept today.
• B-M-B Mow-All 96. If you go to lots of farm auctions, you may have run across one of these. Advertising literature circa the 1950s claims this rotary cutter was built by the “pioneers in the rotary cutter field.” B-M-B stood for Bausch, Mulanax and Bottenberg, three men who built and sold rotary saws in 1950. They branched out into ag equipment, especially rotary mowers.
Literature claims the Mow-All 96 could be used to restore a pasture or pulverize stalks and stubble. This model featured an 8-foot cut, promised to scatter material evenly, and was available in trail-type hookup, side-mount or three-point hookup.
You’ve likely heard of the Alamo Group, which purchased the company in 1987 to acquire the factory in Holton, Kan. The Alamo Group was growing and needed more capacity. As noted above, Rhino Ag is the company’s brand name for rotary cutters, scraping blades and other ag products today.
UNCOMMON NAME: You may not have heard of B-M-B rotary cutters, but they were produced by a Kansas company in the mid-1900s. The company was later absorbed into the company selling Rhino products.
• Side-Winder flail mower. Side-Winder produced a variety of ag tools in Minden, La., for more than 40 years, according to internet sources. One brochure for the F/M 72 flail mower depicts an early flail machine mounted with three-point hitch. The brochure targets the mower to people in charge of mowing highway rights of way, but also touts it for use on farms. The brochure also pictures a rotary tiller, a traditional rotary cutter and a ditching machine. The F/M 72 was a 6-foot model that used 33 three-piece heavy blades made of one-eighth-inch hardened alloy steel to cut parallel to the ground.
Other companies also adopted the flail-cutting concept. New Idea offered flail choppers for harvesting grass silage and later, flail “cut/ditioners” to mow pastures and hay.
A company that serviced Side-Winder equipment and carried parts, Hercules Ag & Outdoor, still makes rotary cutters under the Hercules name, and even makes custom rotary cutters. Visit herculesserviceparts.com.