Building a Pole Stacker
by Lynn R. Miller of Singing Horse Ranch
photos by Paul Hunter & Lynn Miller
Just as with the buck rake, the design and construction of the pole stacker evolved. The original idea had the pole anchored in the ground. It was quickly understood that Kenny wanted to be able to move the stacker. We were fortunate to have Jim Butcher – our woodman – and Mike Atkins – our iron man – to add to a mix of ideas which allowed materials on hand and special pieces from neighboring metal worker (cousin) Todd Bergeron to fit together for an ingenious and workable pole stacker. The photo captions should explain all that we did and why.
We elected to build a base on railroad ties with 3” x 8” oak cross bracing notched and lagged in.
Mike and Jim came up with an ingenious design for a hinged pole butt receiver featuring a frame around a nine inch pipe (see below). Those clips out on the front cross brace ends were for the 2 inch pipe diagonal braces (see next page).
We used a 24 foot long telephone pole with a six inch top and a nine inch butt. On the left you can see how we fit the nine inch pipe and base frame to receive the butt of the pole.
Jens, Jim, Kenny and Mike look on while I draw up a diagram of how the pole boom assembly needed to swing upon lift of the load. Including Paul, on the camera, this was the best crew an old Dutcharican horsefarmer could have asked for to help design the ultimate portable pole stacker.
Once the sled was complete it was taken out to the pole and the receiver hinged up to allow the pole to be slid in. We lagged the pole at bottom center just to allow it to stay as we drug it to the field.
Mike worked his welding magic to build a boom of 2” pipe (9 feet long) welded to a old caster-wheel yoke which in turn was welded to a 6” x 6” pipe sleeve. This allowed the boom to slide down the pipe from the top, and swivel for the pickup and dumping action. Below the boom ring, a 6” x 6” split pipe was fastened in place to give the swivel collar a place to ride. Mike built a steel pole cap with rings to receive the 1” support cables (three for main support and one for the boom support). We used a 3/4 inch rope for the hay forks, so suitable pulleys were fastened to both ends of the boom. The rope was threaded ahead of time so that everything would be in place when the pole was hoisted.
We put the pole up using an A-frame to give a lifting angle with the tractor. Once up, we found the angle of the support cable for the boom to be wrong, so we lowered the pole and reset.
Then we lifted it up again and anchored the support cables to the three hurricane trailer jacks (each with double helix) and tightened the big turnbuckles. Note: we used three forty foot long steel cables to safely support the pole from three directions. Jim figured out that the 24 foot tall pole called for anchors 32 foot from the pole and with hypotenuse cables 40 feet long.
The crew bolting on the four 2” pipe legs to the support collar.
The frame sled all anchored up.
The students took direction from Jim and I on how to properly build a stack base. The first loads were brought into place with the buck rake. A wall was built and carefully stomped solid. Then more loads pushed into the center and distributed. Under normal conditions the base might be built 6 foot high before loads would have to be taken up by the stacker. The class was anxious to see the stacker work so we went at it sooner. It was late in the year and we didn’t have as much hay as we might want for the stack but we did what we could with what we had. The stacker worked fine whether from wagons or from the buck rake loads.
The way we designed this stacker, it could be moved by lowering the pole, sliding off the cap and boom and dragging it to another site. Or, the pole could be separated from the sled and the two parts handled individually for a road haul. We made it 24 foot tall with a 6’ x 5’ base. You could make it taller but you would need to construct a somewhat wider base and probably have longer support cables. What ever your plan please be careful, hoisting a pole is a tricky business and deserves your complete respect so that no one gets hurts. Also, stay way clear of buildings and power lines.