BATTLE LAKE (AP) -- Ray Schumacher lives in a modest house on Minnesota Highway 78, just across the road from Battle Lake. He has been retired for 14 years, but he doesn't fish much.
He just doesn't have time.
Schumacher is too busy making life a little easier for other fishermen.
For about 10 years, Schumacher has been making and marketing ''Cyclones'' -- fairly simple contraptions that can scale 15 to 25 panfish (depending on their size) in about a minute and a half.
Recently a major mail-order sportsman's catalog that sold the Cyclones for a year and then dropped them expressed interest in marketing them again. Schumacher has to have his shipment to them by September.
The Cyclone consists of a five-gallon pail lined with a rough, stainless steel cylinder. A metal rod protrudes through the cover into the pail. Attached to the end of the rod is a stainless steel plate resembling a cheese grater.
The other end of the rod attaches to an ordinary drill. You put the fish in the bucket and turn on the drill, and the plate whirls the fish around. The liner removes the scales from the fish.
The unit usually goes for $49.95 (drill not included).
Schumacher admits he didn't come up with the idea. In fact, he says, probably a dozen versions of the invention have been made, some dating back to the 1930s. But ''some of them were very poor workmanship -- just a piece of nothing,'' he says.
His Cyclone, on the other hand, is made of food-grade stainless steel, and he's always trying to perfect it.
Schumacher says he has made and sold more than 2,000 of the Cyclones in the last 10 years. Most of the sales come from bait and sport shops and other small dealers in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Occasionally he gets mail or phone requests.
''I haven't pushed them as hard as I should have,'' he says. There's a lot of opening yet to sell these things.''
The Cyclone isn't the only thing Schumacher sells. He also makes replicas of a cigar lighter that was made in 1910. He says he has sold about 2,500 of those in the last 10 years for $400 to $500 apiece, including sales to a Japanese dealer who made a special trip to the United States to see him.
The 76-year-old has no plans of slowing down. Now that Schumacher has sold the trailer court he owned, he hopes to have time to expand his business to more dealers and to the Internet.
''That's why the economy's so good,'' he said. The Internet ''is a pipeline to the rest of the world.''
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