Valmont® had been manufacturing Valley® center pivot irrigation machines for 22 years when I joined the company in 1976. I was twelve years old at the time… not really, but that detail makes me sound years younger than I actually am.
Now, 41 years later, I have heard and read more Valley center pivot stories than I can remember. This accumulated knowledge deserves to be shared, so I dug into the dusty archives of my Valley employee memory and rediscovered some little-known or forgotten stories of center pivots and the beginnings of the center pivot industry.
Without further ado, I invite you to read five historical center pivot facts in the form of my True or False quiz. Sorry, no prizes will be awarded for your participation in this quiz, other than expanding your center pivot IQ.
QUESTION 1 True or False: Valmont has always manufactured center pivots.
ANSWER: False. Valley Manufacturing Company had its beginnings in the Valley, Neb., farm shop of Sam McCleneghan. McCleneghan was producing wagon boxes when Robert Daugherty and his uncle, Frank, joined forces with McCleneghan in 1946 to form the Valley Manufacturing Company. Their first major product was a farm grain elevator. Sears, Roebuck and Co. ordered 1,000 elevators and sold them as the “David Bradley Multi-Purpose Elevator.” Eight years later, in 1954, Valley Manufacturing Company changed agriculture forever by launching the center pivot irrigation system industry.
QUESTION 2 True or False: Valley center pivots have always been hot-dip galvanized.
ANSWER: False. Starting with the first commercial, cable-supported water drive Valley Model 1030 in 1954 and continuing through the production Model 1041 in 1968, the first Valley center pivots were painted red. Valley center pivot sales in 1955 totaled seven machines; we did not need much red paint that year. (As a side note, the restored red drive unit on display in Valley, Neb., is thought to be from one of the first ten Valley center pivots sold!) The first Valley center pivot to be galvanized was the Model 1060. With 96’ and 80’ 6” diameter spans, the galvanized Model 1060 water drive was manufactured from 1968 to 1972.
QUESTION 3 True or False: Center pivots should not be operated at 75 psi.
ANSWER: Both true and false. 60 years ago, the first Valley water drives had an absolute minimum operating pressure of 50 psi. For longer center pivots (1000’ to 1486’), 65 to 78 psi minimum was required to support adequate rotation times and sprinkler package operation. To maximize end gun throw, farmers frequently would operate center pivots at 100 psi. Fortunately, these high pressures are no longer required for modern center pivot irrigation systems. Dependable electric drives and efficient, low-pressure sprinkler designs make an extremely high-pressure operation a mere notation for the center pivot history books.
QUESTION 4 True or False: Valley center pivots have never been propelled by pressurized hydraulic oil.
ANSWER: False. Valley center pivots have been driven by pressurized hydraulic oil twice in Valley center pivot history. The first time was from 1970 to 1973 with the Model 3060-3160-3176 series. This model was a variation of the tried and true Model 1160 water drive. The second incarnation of oil-propelled Valley center pivots was the 6000HYD, which was available for a short time during the early 1990s.
QUESTION 5 True or False: “Walking Seven” is a new zombie TV series coming out this fall.
ANSWER: False. Sold from 1970 to 1973, the “Walking Seven” was the first Valley under-truss, electric-drive center pivot irrigation system. This center pivot was designed by a small manufacturing company located in Grant, Neb. Valmont purchased the Walking Seven to meet the expanded expectations of center pivot customers for a modern, electric drive design. Painted white and equipped with chain drive and under-truss-supported pipeline, this center pivot was also known as the Valley Model 2060.
BONUS TIE BREAKER question to see who buys lunch:
What was the name of the compressed air-powered center pivot developed and first manufactured in York, Neb., in 1968?
ANSWER: It was the KROY pivot (which is "York" spelled backward). Later moved to Colorado, KROY was out of business by the late 1970s.
Through tenacious effort and bold development, Valmont continues to be the world leader in agricultural mechanized irrigation today. I am grateful and proud of my long association with the company that has the stated mission “To Feed the World.” Thank you for participating in my quiz.
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