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Kiowa County Signal - Kiowa County, KS
  • At 98 years of age St. John inventor is just getting started

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  • At 98-years-old when most are winding down, Stafford County farmer and inventor, Loyd Ratts is just getting started.
    With 94 years of farming experience and machine shop work, inventor was the next logical step for Ratts's latest business endeavor.
    Last year Ratt's submitted a design that uses wire cables, pulleys and some metal frame work to open grain bin top hatches without climbing to the top of the bin.
    "I'm pretty fortunate to still have all my faculties my eyesight, knees and stuff are still good," he said. "I could still go up there, but the family doesn't like."
    The system is fairly simple using some metal framework he designed a few pulleys and some rope. Ratts is a fan of pulleys and rope. The raise and lower controls for the front-end loader on his tractor has a metal bracket, pulleys and some rope trailing into the bucket.
    The system allows Ratts to raise and lower the bucket of his farm tractor while riding in the bucket.
    "That's a lifesaver," he said. "I get a lot of use out of that. It's a lot safer standing in that large bucket trimming trees than it is on a ladder."
    Regardless of one's age climbing to the top of the grain bins can be dangerous. Every year farmers fall off grains bins, some die some are permanently injured according to Ratts.
    The ground-level lid opening system eliminates the need to climb the bin. He made the first units in his rustic metal shop filled with tools, parts and raw materials. After several prototypes and redesigns he submitted and received a patent for the design.
    The first units have been installed in a few places across the country, but now Ratts Manufacturing Inc is ready to go into full production.
    The new company with "Loyd Ratts, Inventor/CEO" will be selling the units for around $500 each. Ratts has contracted out the manufacturing process to increase his productivity on building the units.
    The entrepreneurial 98-year-old has his own website at www.rattsmanufacturing.com to market the opener system, along with a Facebook page and iPhone to manage it all; a long way from his early beginnings almost a century ago.
    Born on Feb. 18, 1915, Ratts said his dad named him LOYD instead of the typical spelling because the second L was unnecessary.
    He started farming at age 4 driving a load of wheat to the grain elevator in St. John.
    His father, Edmund, sent him with a team of horses and load of wheat on the five-mile journey to the elevator. His father planned on loading another wagon and horse team and catching up with Loyd on the way in. He didn't make.
    "I got to town first," he said. "I remember going down the west side of the square in St. John and everybody stopping to watch me go by. The team of horses he (Dad) had on there probably could have taken that load into town on themselves."
    Page 2 of 2 - He stopped the wagon just north of the scales waiting for his dad to show up and drive the teams onto the scales to unload.
    By age 6, he was working the fields with teams of horses; by 10 he was driving the family's first tractor.
    Ratts farmed with his father through the worst of the dust bowl, and the great depression. The family survived both and ended up farming 2,500 acres in Kearny County and 400 in Stafford County.
    He worked construction at Ft. Riley in 1939, and worked at Cessna Aircraft in Wichita from 1940-42.
    Ratts started farming on his own in 1942 along with working at a garage in Radium. By 1954 he had opened his own shop, Loyd's Repair Shop, on his farm.
    Ratts was married twice, Bonnie who died in 1956, and his second wife Betty, who he married in 1961. She died in 2005. He has eight children, and currently runs his farm with the help of his son-in-law and grandson, Phillip and Jason Koelsch and a few other family members.
    At 98-years-old when most are winding down, Stafford County farmer and inventor, Loyd Ratts is getting started.

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