7 top tips to keep your mower on the go this silage season
This week I 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 they are quickly available when needed - knives, belts and replacement oil.
This is the time of 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 Oil should be changed once a year
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 (below) 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.
2 Watch out for wear and tear
Watch out for wear in the knuckles of universal joints. As always, make sure your PTO covers (below) and holding chains are in place. Heavy knocks to the mower can crack the drawbar so check its structure regularly.
3 Is your mower clogging regularly
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 (below) that drives the conditioner is worn and needs replacing or else it simply needs to be tensioned.
4 Missing skid
In this picture (below) 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.