In this article I’m trying to construct the history of the Hawk-Bilt GroundSaw. I haven’t been able to find much information. If you can offer any help, please contact me through this website.
I have some literature that advertises a Model H-900 that was built for a Model 100 Cub Cadet and a Model B-10 Allis Chalmers. It was manufactured by Neessen-Inhofer a division of Hawk-Bilt Mfg. Corp. I know there are a few ground saws out there that were manufactured by Inhofer. I don’t know if they split off from Hawk-Bilt or were merged and/or how Neessen was in the picture. I’ve been trying to trace some history with no luck.
I read somewhere that Vermeer bought out Inhofer, but their ground saws bear no resemblance to the Inhofers that I’ve seen so I doubt if that is the case.
Neessen-Inhofer also manufactured a Model 750 that was “self contained.” It was driven by a 6 h.p. engine and used a winch to pull it forward. It sounds like an interesting piece of equipment.
I have a price list for the Model H-900 Neessen-Inhofer that’s dated January 1, 1965. Myron Bounds sent me a copy of a price list from his CC SupplyRoom Library for the Model 1200 Hawk-Bilt. It’s dated March 1, 1966. There’s an article in the Winter 2010 issue of Cadet Connection an Inhofer brand ground saw owned by Bruce Ritch but it doesn’t say anything about a date. In the picture in the article it looks like one of the Neessen-Inhofer models.
At the suggestion of Paul Bell, I checked out the Special Duty Equipment (SDE) publications published by International Harverster. The 1966 edition list a GroundSaw Trencher manufactured by Inhoffer Industries a Division of Neessen-Inhoffer Corporation of Eagle Grove, Iowa. The 1968 edition lists a GroundSaw Trencher manufactured by Hawk Bilt Mfg. Corp of Vinton, Iowa.
I received this information from Chris Westfall. Looks like there was also a ground saw manufactured for Simplicity. “The only info I have is on the model H-900 Hawk-Bilt for Simplicity Landlord tractors. The price sheet lists different models from 24″ depth 2 1/4 width for $ 1,342.00 up to 36″ depth x 4″ width for $ 1,412.00. ”
I received this information from Eric Tyler. He had some interesting information. “Most think Neesen-Inhofer differs from Hawk-Bilt. Actually Neesen-Inhofer is a Division of Hawk-Bilt, one in the same. They made mostly hay and foraging equipment. Harold Inhofer actually made several patents in the 60’s, one was the hydraulic drive system used on the cadet trencher. I always had thought and have read that there were two companies (aside from Vermeer), Hawk-Bilt, and Neesen-Inhoffer making two different brands. It is one company however, which made a couple variations of the same attachment. Only two trencher makers were out there, Hawk-Bilt and Vermeer. Only Hawk-Bilts were “Allied Equipment” Sanctioned by IH and advertised by IH. Vermeer actually placed an order for 100 Cub Cadets from IH, stripped down versions without headlights and such, and mounted their own trencher on it. That is why the Vermeers are industrial yellow, with their own model numbers.”
I spoke to Mr. Keith Elwick on the phone. Mr. Elwick was the founder of Hawk Bilt. They started the company building the “side slinger” manure spreader. As a side note, he told me that for the first try they used a rubber blade in the front to sling the manure. That didn’t work very well at all and they temporarily gave up on the project. After about a year and a half he tried again. They ran a shaft down through the center, attached chains, and came up with the design that started the company. He said they still have the original prototype with its wooden “tub”. The first six spreaders they made were manufactured from wood before they switched to steel.
Mr. Elwick said that Inhofer was manufacturing the groundsaw and they, Hawk Bilt, purchased the company. He commented that they called it a groundsaw rather than a trencher because of the higher chain speed, and it didn’t have regular trencher teeth. Inhofer was the company that actually coined the name groundsaw. He did say the carbide tips they welded on the teeth made the chain very reliable, and they didn’t wear too badly. He didn’t know the exact number they manufactured but said it was in the hundreds. The groundsaws were mainly manufactured for Cub Cadets.
Mr. Elwick said that the Model 750 was actually the most durable model groundsaw. He said that the ratcheting mechanism that moved the 750 forward worked extremely well, and they required very little maintenance. He said on the tractor mounted groundsaws the hydraulic pump was the limiting factor.
Hawk Bilt eventually sold out to Chromalloy. Chromalloy went out of business when the economy hit a down turn in the 1980’s. ARPS Corporation, a Chromalloy American subsidiary , produced the Model 1400 trencher for a Model 140 John Deere Hydrostatic garden tractor. According to literature from that period, ARPS referred to it as the Trench-Devil. There is a picture of an ARPS Model 1400 trencher in the Groundsaws, Trenchers and Their Owners section of this website.
If anyone has any more information about thise machines, I’d be interested in hearing from you. Please contact me through this website. I’d like to determine a timeline and information about how these companies all “fit” together, what make of garden tractors they were made for, when they were made, how many of each model were made, etc. With your permission, I’ll post the information on this website to share with everyone that might have an interest.