10 maintenance steps to keep your applicator flowing – Dwain Ewald, Vita Plus

Posted on January 26, 2017 in Forage Foundations
Editor’s note:  In addition to multiple customer service responsibilities at Vita Plus Gagetown in Gagetown, Michigan, Dwain Ewald takes the lead on maintenance services for customers’ forage inoculant applicators. 

By Dwain Ewald, Vita Plus Gagetown customer service
With cold temperatures and piles of snow on the ground, it’s sometimes hard to think about and prepare for the upcoming forage season.  However, doing a little maintenance now can save a lot of time when things get rolling in the spring.  In this article, I will focus on the maintenance of the DE-1000 and DE-1008.5 forage inoculant applicator units manufactured by Dohrmann Enterprises, Inc.  Maintenance steps are similar for both machines.

  1. Cleanliness
    Rinse out coolers and dump any unused inoculant.  Season after season, I find old inoculant left in coolers from previous seasons.  Damage to the unit can occur if coolers are not properly cleaned.  As my mom would say, “A little soap and water is not going to hurt you.”
  1. Hose and electrical connections
    Check and replace any cracked or broken hoses and make sure all power and electrical connections to the speed controller and pump are working properly.
  1. Suction screen
    Open the cooler and check that the suction screen is not plugged.  This is often when people discover they forgot to clean out inoculant from last season and now have to endure the smell of old inoculant.  Don’t do this right after lunch!
  1. Suction lines
    Inspect all suction lines to make sure you don’t have bad connections or cracks.  I would recommend replacing these annually.
  1. Discharge hose
    I like to use a clear hose so you can see product flowing through the tube as you are chopping. Also, look for broken hoses or cracks and make sure inoculant is going into the stream of forage.  The inoculant is useless if it falls on the machine or ground.
  1. Flow meter
    When the system isn’t flushed properly, the ball in the flow meter can get stuck.  I like to take it apart and clean it with soap and water.  After putting it back together, rock it back and forth and make sure the ball can move freely.
  1. Cooler
    I like to fill up the cooler with water first to check for leaks.  This is much less expensive than putting in a batch of inoculant and then discovering a leak.
  1. Motor and pump assembly
    Note:  This point applies to the DE-1000 only as access to the motor and pump on the DE-1008.5 is much more limited.Check to make sure the spring is on the metering screw.  I have seen a whole custom chopping operation come to a standstill because the metering adjustment screw came loose and couldn’t put any pressure on the metering tube.  Also, make sure the rollers on the pump spin free and the screw that holds the pump on the motor is tight.  This is a good time to check your speed controls to make sure the pump runs and the speed slows down and speeds up.
  1. Metering tube
    Change it.  Period.
  1. Power
    I’ve been on many service calls because the unit isn’t working.  I soon discover the auto-on switch in the chopper is not working.  Throughout my many years of servicing applicators, in only one case was the pump actually the problem.  All others were wiring issues and I had to sometimes rewire inside the chopper to make it work.

My final words of advice: keep it clean and serviced and your applicator will provide many years of reliable service.  If you have any questions, please contact a Vita Plus forage team member.

Category: Equipment
Forage Foundations
Forage inoculants