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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Farmer's converted combine ready for big snow

Monday, October 8, 2012

Shad Dewey of rural McCook, Nebraska, and two of his family's golden retrievers stand beside Shad's combine-turned-snow plow and bale loader.
(Connie Jo Discoe/McCook Daily Gazette)
McCOOK, Nebraska -- Shad Dewey is just about ready to switch his prayers for rain into prayers for snow. While Mother Nature refuses to release rain from clouds that look promising, maybe she won't be as stingy with snow this winter.

And snow ... now, Shad can handle snow.

Shad has repurposed a mid-1970s International 815 self-propelled combine into a multi-purpose farm implement and "snow-bine." After Shad's welding and tinkering, the combine -- minus its header and hopper -- can now move big round hay bales, haul things, doze weeds, and, yes, push snow.

Shad bought Don Rockwell's retired International 851 combine at a consignment auction west of the Red Willow Animal Clinic west of McCook in 2006 -- with the idea of turning it into a snow plow.

With his own vision and imagination -- supplemented by those shared by other farmers and ranchers in a "Farm Show" publication -- Shad welded new 3x6-inch iron tubing across the combine's platform-mounting bracket, fashioned a "quick attach" mechanism and mounted the 11-foot snow blade from a state snow plow.

"We've only had two snows worth pushing," Shad said, almost sadly. After one storm last winter, the snow blew into three- to four-foot drifts. "It pushed right through the drifts," Shad said. " ... never bogged down."

Shad uses the blade to work around the farm yard, and dozed yucca plants in a pasture. "It's actually pushed more dirt and weeds than snow," he said.

The quick-attach lets Shad remove the snow plow attachment and attach a frame he designed with two spears to haul big round bales.

By cutting off the combine's auger and hopper, Shad improved visibility. "I know where the rear-end is at all times," he said. Shad told "Farm Show," which featured his loader in its May-June 2012 issue, "It's not as fast as a tractor, but I sit high, and can see all around me."

Shad plans another innovation -- building a light-duty crane out of the combine's grain unloading auger, controlling the swing of the crane from the cab.

The only "new" piece in the combine "snow-bine" project has been the 3x6-inch chunk of iron tubing. All expenses tolled, Shad figures he has "lots of welding rod" but only about $1,200 -- not including labor -- in the project. "It's been a lot cheaper than buying a loader tractor," he chuckled.

Shad Dewey's one of those creative individuals, a visionary, a "Professor Gadget," someone who can "make do with what you've got." He admits his combine/plow has some limitations, "but it's been fun, and it's definitely a conversation piece."

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