Final Word
Equipment World Staff | January 9, 2012

Antique Iron

A military mystery

According to owner Mike Rohleder of Ferdinand, Indiana, this may be the only 1951 Schield Bantam ABM 51 military pull shovel in existence. Rohleder acquired the machine 10 years ago and put it to work this summer at the Historical Construction Equipment Association’s annual convention.

This cable-actuated digger was built for airborne military operations in Schield Bantam’s Waverly, Iowa plant. The sand-filled counterweight could be drained for transportation in cargo planes during the Korean War. Rohleder repainted the ABM 51 its original olive drab and restored it to operating condition with some welding, new cables and clutch and brake bands purchased from crane supply sources. An operator who has worked with heavy equipment for some 40 years, Rohleder runs a side business, Moonlight Excavating, with his sons Andy and Luke, to help fund their passion for antique iron.

In addition to his ABM 51, Mike Rohleder (far right) has also restored a Euclid S-7 scraper, a Caterpillar #212 single drive grader and a Little Giant Combo 12 hydraulic excavator.

Rohleder is not sure if Shield Bantam ever developed the ABM 51 past the prototype stage and he’s still trying to solve this mystery. If you know anything more about the ABM 51 he’d like to hear from you. You can call him at (812) 630-2544 or email us at

If you’re interested in learning more about vintage machines, the HCEA will have its 25th annual convention September 14-16 in Bowling Green, Ohio. To find out more go to EW

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