Antique Iron

A Military Mystery

Antique Iron Untitled 1This may be the only 1951 Schield Bantam ABM 51 military pull shovel in existence, according to owner Mike Rohleder of Ferdinand, Indiana. Rohleder acquired the machine 10 years ago and put it to work this summer at the Historical Construction Equipment Association’s (HCEA) annual convention.

This cable-actuated digger was built for airborne military operations in the company’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.

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 e-mail us at [email protected].

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

– Tom Jackson, executive editor, Equipment World magazine

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