10 tips to ensure your silage mower is in tip top shape
Silage season 2017 has really burst into life in the last fortnight. As the days stretch out before us, for contractors and farmers alike the name of the game now is machinery maintenance in order to give the best chance of avoiding breakdowns and costly repairs.
Here we take a look at some of the key service points to look out for when dealing with a used trailed silage mower conditioner.
From the pictures you can see a suggested approach is to go from the drawbar at the front of the mower, right through to the conditioner (a systematic approach that ensures you don't forget anything).
It's a good practical idea to have a few of the most commonly used spare parts in the van or shed so that they are quickly available when needed - knives, belts and replacement oil.
This is the time of the year when having a trusted local machinery dealer really pays off. In fairness, most good dealers are offering extended out of hours service during the busy summer months, and many have even laid on extra staff and support service for "on-call" management of machinery breakdowns.
These guys are highly trained technicians - the lifeblood of the machinery trade - so support them if you can. Having a good technician's mobile number in your phone is priceless when the days start to run into each other.
- Make sure your PTO covers and holding chains are in place.
- Set up the flotation springs correctly and grease the top links that are used to set cutting height.
- Most mower-conditioners use a triple V belt to drive the conditioner. If you find your mower gets blocked in heavy grass then the V-belt is slipping - either the belt needs to be tensioned or replaced.
- Use 80/90 gear oil in both the swivel hitch gearbox and the main gearbox at the slip clutch. This oil should be changed once a year.
- The cutterbar oil bed takes around 2 litres of 80/90 oil. This should be changed every season.
- Underneath the cutterbar, check the skids regularly. The fastest way to damage your knives is to continue cutting with skids broken or missing.
- Check deflectors on top hats (large drums on either side of cutter bar) for wear. Replace as needed.
- Knives should be replaced when damaged or after 500 acres, whichever comes first.
- Worn bushels will make conditioner spikes spin out of balance or even detach, causing heavy vibration. If you feel this happening, check conditioner for loose spikes.
- Check the cutterbar drums for loose bearings. If badly worn these bearings can drop down into the cutterbar gearbox and do untold damage to the gear teeth. Again, heavy vibration is a tell-tale sign of a worn bearing.