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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dakota Territory: Bobcat Beckoned

Karen K. Acevedo
Editor in Chief

Photo by Chris Weishaar

I loved the Bobcat CT 335. It was just
a nice tractor.

Last week, I traveled to Bismarck, N.D., for yet another adventure in editing.

At the invitation of Bobcat Company, I got to check out the new M-Series equipment, spending a day riding, driving and operating various pieces of large machinery.

Based in West Fargo, N.D., Bobcat is legendary when it comes to compact equipment. So legendary in fact, they’ve recently found a home at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, where they’ve donated 56 cubic feet of records. The donation includes corporate records relating to American manufacturing and marketing as well as business development.

Hopefully this cache details Bobcat’s interesting history of how in the 1950s, brothers Cyril and Louis Keller fashioned a three-wheeled loader with two drive wheels in front and a caster wheel in the rear at the behest of a turkey farmer.

Photo by Karen K. Acevedo

The Toolcat is such a handy piece of
machinery around a farm.

The Keller’s self-propelled loader was the precursor to the modern skid-steer loader and they demonstrated its usefulness at the Minnesota State Fair in 1958. The Melroe Manufacturing Company bought the rights to their invention, and Melroe eventually became Bobcat Company.

Housed in the museum’s Archives Center, Bobcat’s papers join the museum’s extensive collection of agricultural, industrial and business papers. If you’re in Washington D.C. for the holidays this year, don’t miss them on view from Nov. 30 through Jan. 17, 2010.

Back to Bismarck … The big story on the M-Series is that aside from the new numbering system for loaders and excavators, Bobcat has made all their machines more operator-friendly.

For loaders (skid-steer and track), the M-Series has a unique cab-forward design that brings the operator closer to the work area and gives better visibility; there is a larger door for easier entry and exit of the machine; larger windows all the way around; new engine mounts that reduce noise by more than 60 percent and decrease vibration; more adjustments to the seat and other controls to accommodate operators of different sizes; plus many more upgrades.

Photo by Karen K. Acevedo

I attended a fun "pitchfork fondue"
after checking out the equipment.

Bobcat went out into the world, an d asked you—the farmers, the workers—what improvements you’d like, and responded in kind.

In Bismarck, where Bobcat produces their Toolcats, mini track loaders, and the only compact excavators made in North America, I operated skid-steer loaders to push dirt around (the S630 and the T630), a compact tractor (CT335) with a mowing deck, a Toolcat (5610) with attachments (a seeder and a tiller), a utility vehicle (2100) to speed around the site, an excavator (E35) to dig holes with, and a few other construction-type machines.

I fell in love with the Toolcat and the compact tractor, both of which I could definitely use around my farm, and in the process, get rid of a few other machines taking up space.

After the field festivities, we headed to Fort Abraham Lincoln to observe the breathtaking views of the rolling North Dakota landscape, and were treated to a “pitchfork fondue” where meat and potatoes are submerged in boiling oil to cook—done in about 30 seconds. Fast food!   

Note to George of Bismarck, N.D.: I enjoyed your terri-tra and thanks so much for always commenting so nicely on my blogs. It was nice to meet such a gracious fan of the magazine! 

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Dakota Territory: Bobcat Beckoned

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Reader Comments
This article was NOT what I expected it. I clicked on it thinking, ok, I'll learn a little about bobcats (the animal) and I wondered how one would go about raising them or whatever...but much to my surprise, you were talking about bobcat the machinery!
Kelly, Fairgrove, MI
Posted: 10/29/2011 6:17:59 AM
Lisa, Acworth, GA
Posted: 4/13/2011 3:00:19 PM
bladerunner, portland, OR
Posted: 9/11/2009 4:35:21 PM
Very interesting blog.
Kristina, Tampa, FL
Posted: 8/14/2009 6:58:45 AM
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