Stonebear is King Kong of rock pickers

If King Kong had picked rocks for a living, the Kongskilde Stonebear 5200 would have been his tool of choice

FARGO, N.D. — The Stonebear 5200 grabs rocks from one inch to 16 inches in diameter across a 17-foot-wide swath and then dumps them into a trailer from 7.7 feet.

It performs all these tasks with a surprisingly low power requirement of 80 horsepower through a 350 r.p.m. power take-off, says Dave McKeen of Kongskilde in Iowa.

“It’s a combination rock rake and rotary picker. One machine replaces two machines,” said McKeen, who was at the recent Big Iron Farm Show in Fargo to debut the Polish-built Stonebear.

McKeen has been selling the Stonebear in Illinois for a decade, but this was the first time he’s come north with the picker.

“The raking arms cover a swath of 17 feet. The rakes rotate in the opposite direction to forward travel. This funnels rocks to the centre where they feed into the rotary tines, which flip the rocks up into the hopper,” he said.

“The main benefit for a lot of farmers is the hopper dumping height of more than seven and a half feet. This lets you dump into a trailer or truck and move them to wherever you want.”

McKeen said the transportation factor becomes a financial asset. Many farmers sell the rocks for crushing, erosion protection or landscaping.

“You don’t need big horsepower,” he said.

“You need a tractor with 85 h.p. to 100 h.p. and 540 r.p.m. p.t.o. that we run at 350 r.p.m. You only travel at one m.p.h., so you get everything in a single pass.

“The rotary tines will throw a 16-inch rock into the hopper. The wings will rake bigger rocks to the centre, but the rotary can’t handle anything bigger than 16 inches.

“It’ll jam up if you travel too fast and get too many rocks in the rotary all at the same time, or if you don’t notice that the hopper is full. You have to dump the hopper and manually clean out the jam with a sledge hammer or pry bar.”

He said the system is belt driven, and there’s no reverse. The belts slip if the hopper jams, which serves as protection against breaking key components.

Hopper capacity is 2.4 cubic yards. The extended angle of the wings is fixed, but they fold in hydraulically to a width of six feet for transport.

“We’ve had a lot of guys here at the show saying, ‘hey, I want to rent that for a couple weeks,’ ” he said.

“We just have to say no. Nobody in their right mind would rent out a machine like this because of the beating any rock picker takes. If you invest in any rock picker, you’ll want to do custom work yourself so you pick up the extra income from operating it.”

McKeen recommended downsizing from the standard 17 foot wings to the smaller 13 foot wings for very stony conditions.

Kongskilde products are handled in Western Canada by Chris Gillis of Baldur, Manitoba.

The list price is $93,000.

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