Bell Thumbanil

Bell Telelogger

In the early 1960′s Bell saw a further opportunity to improve the sugar cane harvesting process. While a few rudimentary cane loading machines had appeared on the scene, most were adapted farm tractors and as such lacked manoeuvrability to quickly gather a load of cane.

Bell’s approach was to develop a whole new class of machine. Utilising emerging hydrostatic technology and borrowing hydraulic motors from an old motor grader, his prototype three wheeled loader was granted a patent and named the greatly manoeuvrable self propelled machine.

Able to control each of the large drive wheels independently, the Bell Tri-Wheeler could turn instantly on its own axis. Also the simple control concept, was easily assimilated by operators without any previous machinery experience.

Choosing to focus on the general engineering side of his business, Irvine Bell licensed the manufacture of his Cane Loader to a Johannesburg based locomotive company that was active in cane transport at the time.


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