This week I run through some service essentials for a round baler-wrapper combination.
The most popular seller on the Irish market remains the McHale Fusion so the photos focus on that model.
Remember: safety is the number one priority. Before starting any maintenance or repairs, the PTO drive should be disengaged - preferably disconnected altogether - and the tractor engine stopped.
Have someone with you. If doing bale chamber repairs, be extra careful to secure the open tailgate by closing the hydraulic tap on the lift circuit.
While this guide isn't definitive, it's a good general overview.
Anything that you are unsure of should be left to the local machinery dealer technician.
Doing the simple things right should keep you out of trouble for the most part.
The basics include checking the drive chains for correct tension, giving the machine a good clean inside and out, and making sure the baler is lubricated with the correct fill of the right oils and greases.
With so many farming-related accidents taking place recently, safety has to always be the number one priority. Before starting any maintenance or repairs, the PTO drive should be disengaged — preferably disconnected altogether — and the tractor engine stopped. Check the condition of the PTO shaft cover and replace it if it is damaged.
Cam bearings on the feed intake rotor need to be replaced every season. A cam bearing costs around €25 plus VAT. It is also important to check the pick-up chain; while this won’t need to be replaced every season, it still needs to be checked for wear. If it looks worn, go ahead and replace it to avoid downtime mid-season. A new pick-up chain costs around €150 plus VAT.
In this picture you can see the feed auger just above the intake rotor. This baler has about 16,000 bales made and, though some wear is now visible on the auger, it doesn’t need replacing this season. You can also see some pick-up tines — replacement tines cost about €3 plus VAT.
One thing that must be changed each season is the gearbox oil. As can be seen from this picture, the bung on the gearbox on the Fusion 2 is more accessible than it was on the original Fusion. No check in this area is complete without mentioning safety — if the PTO shaft cover is anything but perfect, it should be replaced.
Check the chamber rollers and bearings for movement. Run the baler for 10-15 minutes before servicing. This will help to clarify what needs to be replaced (as opposed to maybe just having a rattling stone stuck in the chamber).
It is a bad sign if rollers are screeching for long periods as they rotate. An automatically greasing baler costs a bit more, but tends to prolong roller bearing life because dirt is pushed out of the bearings by the incoming grease. A replacement automatic greaser pump costs around €350.
Tyres and tensioning spring
Tyre pressures are key for the Fusion because it is a single-axle machine that is often used in areas where harvesters are too heavy to travel. Ensure pressure isn’t too high so that a good contact patch exists between tyre and ground;
The tensioning spring should be kept level with the marker bar to ensure chain pressure is just right. Tensioning bearings on idler sprockets should be replaced after 20,000 bales.
Keep a spare cartridge of grease in the tractor at all times. A cartridge will do for about 300 bales and costs around €3. A good supply of grease will act as a preventative measure for the likes of roller bearings as the grease pushes out dirt and grime from inside the bearings.