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Monday 24 July 2017

10 tips to ensure your silage mower is in tip top shape

 

Watch out for wear in the knuckles of universal joints. As always, make sure your PTO covers and holding chains are in place. Heavy knocks to the mower can crack the drawbar so check its structure regularly.
Watch out for wear in the knuckles of universal joints. As always, make sure your PTO covers and holding chains are in place. Heavy knocks to the mower can crack the drawbar so check its structure regularly.
The two large drums at either end of the cutterbar are often called 'top hats' due to their shape. Top hats play an important role in pushing the cut grass into the path of the conditioner. If you look closely you will see deflector strips on them. Keeping these deflectors in good shape means the whole sward will be pushed into the path of the oncoming conditioner.
The cutter bar. It's a good idea to run the mower for a minute before changing the cutter bar oil. This heats up the oil, reducing its viscosity and makes it flow better. The mower should then be jacked up slightly on its left hand side to help the old oil to flow out of the bung. Make sure all the old oil is out before replacing with clean 80/90 gear oil as per your mower manufacturer's guidelines. Knives need to be replaced when damaged or after 500 acres, whichever comes first.
; In this picture you can see the skid (bottom) has come away from the drum. A missing skid means that disc will be cutting closer to the ground than its neighbours, skinning the grass and soil. This in turn increases the likelihood of bending/breaking the knives on that particular drum. Skids can either be knocked off with a heavy bang from a stone/mound of earth or can simply come off as a result of wear and tear. A skid should normally last at least around 1000 acres.
With wilting and dry matter content a science of its own these days, the conditioner is key to silage quality and should be checked regularly. Worn bushels will make conditioner spikes spin out of balance and in some cases come off, causing heavy vibration. If you feel this happening, check the conditioner for loose or missing spikes
If you find the mower gets clogged up in only moderately heavy grass one of two things can be wrong. Either the triple v-belt (pictured above) that drives the conditioner is worn and needs replacing, or else it simply needs to be tensioned.
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 and should be checked regularly. In this picture we are looking at the top and bottom gearboxes of the swivel hitch. This mower (an older John Deere model 1316) takes 0.8 litres of oil in the bottom and 2.4 litres in the top compartment.
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
Derek Casey

Derek Casey

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.

  1. Make sure your PTO covers and holding chains are in place.
  2. Set up the flotation springs correctly and grease the top links that are used to set cutting height.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. The cutterbar oil bed takes around 2 litres of 80/90 oil. This should be changed every season.
  6. Underneath the cutterbar, check the skids regularly. The fastest way to damage your knives is to continue cutting with skids broken or missing.
  7. Check deflectors on top hats (large drums on either side of cutter bar) for wear. Replace as needed.
  8. Knives should be replaced when damaged or after 500 acres, whichever comes first.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.



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