Melroe® Manufacturing Company

Les Melroe, of Melroe Manufacturing Company of Gwinner, ND was introduced to the brothers Louis Keller & Cyril Keller of Keller Welding & Manufacturing in Rothsay, MN by the Keller’s uncle, Anton Christianson. Les Melroe had stopped by Keller Welding & Manufacturing as they were replacing the original Belt-Drive system on Eddie Velo’s loader with their more-reliable, patented Clutch-Drive system. Melroe was impressed enough to invite the Keller brothers to bring their loader for demonstration at their Melroe farm equipment exhibit booth at the 1958 Minnesota State Fair.

The main purpose of the invitation to the state fair was to determine the amount of interest in the loader, therefore there was not much (if any) effort to sell the loader at the fair.  The Keller Loader is an instant hit – and the sale of the last Keller Loader was a result of this display. The amount of interest was so great that before the fair had even ended, Mr. Melroe said he wished to manufacture their loader.

After the State Fair completed, an agreement was reached where Melroe Manufacturing Company would have exclusive manufacturing rights on a royalty basis for their Clutch-Drive design. The Keller brothers are hired by Melore, and would continue to be employed by Melroe Manufacturing Company to further assist & develop the Keller Loader, (especially since all of Melroe’s current employees were needed to continue production of their existing coil spring tooth Harroweeder and Windrow Pickup attachment for combines). The brothers continue to design new loaders and bring them to production at Melroe Manufacturing Company in Gwinner, North Dakota.

Melroe Loader Prototype based on Keller Loader

Development of the first Melroe® Loader prototype was started in November 1958 and completed early in 1959. The Melroe prototype featured the Keller brothers’ patented Clutch-Drive design that had replaced their original Belt-Drive in their first Keller Loader.  

Other similarities to the original Keller Loader were two independently operated front drive wheels, a caster wheel in the rear, two-levered steering, and the bucket and lift arms operated by foot pedals. Keller’s access to Melroe Manufacturing Company facilities allowed their loader models to be larger and have a more attractive, professional look.

The Melroe Loader prototype utilized the same 9 hp, model AENL, Wisconsin Engine used on the very last Keller Loader, and the rear portion of the frame was fabricated from steel plates.  After some testing they began fabrication of five (5) more loader styles.

When the designs were completed, Cyril Keller went on the road marketing & selling. Louis Keller continued his role in development / improvement of loaders. Louis moved his family to the Gwinner area, while Cyril’s family stayed in Rothsay, MN for several more years since he was on the road selling loaders most of the time.

The Keller brothers built approximately 450’ish loaders from 1957-1960…

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