Farm Ireland

Wednesday 22 November 2017

McHale belts up the baling operation

V660 given approval in Wexford

John Howlin shows off his V660 variable-chamber belt baler
John Howlin shows off his V660 variable-chamber belt baler
A hydraulically controlled density system controls the density of the bale by varying the pressure on the baler's three belts

Bruce Lett

Irish manufacturer McHale launched its new V660 variable-chamber belt baler onto the world market at last year's Ploughing Championships in Athy, Co Kildare.

With a fixed-chamber baler and combination baler-wrapper already well established in the market, the Mayo-based firm had its sights set on the lucrative continental marketplace, where the belt baler is an enormous seller.

While fixed-chamber balers are king here in Ireland, that didn't stop one Co Wexford man from sticking his neck out to see what the new V660 baler was made of.

John Howlin of Courtnacuddy, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, replaced his McHale F550 fixed-chamber baler for this year's season with one of these new variable machines from McHale. Now, after a full season of silage, hay and straw under its belts, Farming Independent caught up with John to see how he got on.

Why opt for a belt baler?

"I put nearly 70,000 bales on my McHale F550 with no problems, so I was being ambitious [buying the V660] to see how it worked," said John. "Not that I knew anything about it, but I took a chance anyway."

Coming to an end of his first season, how has he got on?

"I have put nearly 9,000 bales on the V660 so far this year with no hassle. We had a sharp stone or something punch a hole through one of the belts but McHale were great. They organised a replacement baler with the local McHale dealer, Kehoe Bros in Camolin, while two McHale service men brought a belt with them and changed it. They are brilliant for service; you can get McHale's James Heanue on the phone anytime day or night," he added.

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How different is it to use?

"The V660 makes a stronger bale altogether, far ahead of the fixed chamber baler. It's a faster baler and easier to drive than the fixed-chamber baler, using less diesel," insisted John.

"You have to mind your driving, it's not a baler you can let any chap on, you need to know how to bale. The whole thing about baling with a belt baler is to start in the centre of the swath [when starting to make a bale], particularly in silage."

The V660 can make bales in diameter from 0.7m to 1.68m.

Have you used this feature to make different sized bales?

"When I first got the baler I was originally making a 4ft bale in diameter, but on the trailer you could see that these were too small in comparison to other 4x4 bales. You could lose eight or nine inches on the floor of a small load," he claimed. "Now I make a 51-inch bale, which is around the size that any 4x4 baler is making."

Outside of the standard 4ft bale, John insisted he made a lot of 4ft 6in bales of silage for clients to use in round feeders.

Variable-chamber balers

usually make a hard

central core -- has this

been a problem?

"Years ago, belt balers made a centre that was so hard it was like a stake. The McHale has a soft core setting for hay and straw, but, even making the hard centre in hay or straw, you can still put your hand into the middle and pull out a handful."

What is the baler like to set up and operate?

"You can change the bale density, bale size and net wrap all from the control box. When you are making a bale, the control unit beeps at you when the bale is 90pc full so you know you are going to be tying a bale soon. A bar display in the controller screen also shows you that the bale is filling up."

Conclusion: 9,000 bales and counting, John is really happy with his baler. He likes the bales it makes, it's easy to drive and easy on fuel. Like all belt balers, the V660 does require more 'driving' to form a bale properly, but, for John, this is not an issue.

Facts: The McHale V660

  • Variable bale size from 0.7m to 1.68m.
  • Soft core facility for hay and straw.
  • Three-belt bale chamber for less crop loss.
  • 15-knife chopper and feed rotor.
  • Hydraulic drop floor to facilitate clearing blockages.
  • McHale patent moving net feed roller moves between working and idle positions. When not in use, it moves to an idle position where chaff can fall into the pick-up area and be recycled. This results in fewer problems, with chaff affecting the net feed and also stops chaff build up, which can stop the net extending to the edge of the bale.
  • Crop Flow Indicators.
  • Split-drive gearbox to both sides of baler.
  • Expert Plus control system: in-cab adjustment of bale diameter, density and net.
  • Two double-acting spools: one for tailgate function and the other for selectable pick-up, drop-floor and knife function. The latter functions are selected from the Expert Plus control unit.
  • Two-metre pick-up.
  • Crop press roller on pick-up as standard.
  • Standard 500/50-22.5 tyres.
  • Automatic chain oiler and grease station points for greasing.

Irish Independent