Now is the ideal time to carry out essential checks and maintenance to ensure your baler is in good working order ahead of next season
It has been a busy season for round balers with an abundance of grass keeping them busy throughout the summer. This bounty was due to the plentiful rain which kept the grass growing but produced heavy wet crops to challenge the machinery.
Now that winter approaches, it’s time to put balers away until the spring, but a little tender loving would not come amiss before doing so.
McHale is a particularly popular brand familiar to many here in Ireland and James Heanue, Irish sales manager gives Justin Roberts a seven-step guide to how farmers and contractors can get their balers in tip-top shape for next season.
It is vital that all machines are not just safe to use but are also worked upon safely. It is essential that all guards, especially the PTO, fit properly and keep soft body parts well away from unforgiving working parts. A manual valve on the chamber door hydraulics will securely lock it in place without the need for a prop.
2. Keep it clean
Cleanliness is next to godliness and farm machinery is no exception to this rule. A daily clean-down during use will not only keep a baler running smoothly but will also help identify any looming mechanical issues before they become a crisis.
A thorough wash of the panels at the end of the season is essential for preserving its condition and keeping it in a dry environment over the winter will also be of great benefit. Water and mechanicals are not the best of bedfellows so compressed air rather than pressure washers should be used when attending to the moving parts.
Starting at the front of the machine, James Heanue recommends that the cam bearings are replaced every 12,000 bales or annually, whichever is soonest.
The oil in the gearbox should also be renewed with EP80/90 gear oil. The cam track as well as the auger and rotor should also be inspected for damage and the bearing checked for wear. The tines and bands can suffer breakages in the field and should be replaced as necessary to maintain performance.
“Ideally, a new set of knives should be fitted to a baler at the start of every season,” says James, although this will depend on the workload.
Keen blades will reduce the effort needed to chop the crop, reducing fuel consumption, so it is essential that they are regularly sharpened and are not overheated during the process.
5 Bale chamber
The drive chains to the rollers are the big item to look out for on the bale chamber. These are easily adjusted using the tensioners provided, but everything mechanical wears with time.
If the adjustment is running out, then new chains will need to be fitted prior to the season to avoid delays should they break in the field due to becoming worn and slack.
The idler bearings and wear strips which support and guide the chains will also need examination while looking under the side covers. They may be easily replaced if required.
Inside the chamber itself examine each roller carefully and look for cracks or splitting. If damage is present, then it would be best to replace the whole roller along with the bearings. These should also be checked for play on all these components.
“Grease and oil levels should be topped up regularly and the baler should be run for a short period to ensure the lubrication systems are operating correctly,” advises James.
6 Netting unit
When putting the baler away, the components of the netting unit should be cleaned and inspected to ensure they are in working order. Before using the baler again, further attention may be required to ensure all is moving freely after a period of storage.
Failure to have another look in the spring may result in the net not feeding into the chamber correctly.
James points out that if it is a McHale Fusion 3 Plus machine or a V6 Variable bale chamber, the reservoir for the film-stretching mechanism should be checked and topped up with UTTO 20W/30 oil.
7 Wrapping unit
Once again it is the removal of any ‘tack’ left on the dispenser rollers by the film that is important here. The cutting blade will wear with time and is best renewed if in doubt about it lasting a further season.
All the above are basic service items that may be performed in a well-equipped workshop. For replacement parts and larger or more involved repairs it is recommended that the local McHale dealer is consulted first or asked to carry out the tasks themselves.
Our thanks to James Heanue and McHale for their help in preparing this article.