Keeping the Wheels Turning During Harvest – Don Seltzner, Mid-State Equipment
Click here to download Seltzner’s PowerPoint Presentation.
When harvest season gets rolling, you don’t want an equipment issue to bring your operation to a halt in the middle of the field. At the Vita Plus Custom Harvester Meeting 2017, Don Seltzner and Neal Sennhenn, Mid-State Equipment, said a preseason check and routine maintenance will help prevent many common machinery issues and keep the wheels turning during harvest.
Although Mid-State Equipment is a full-line John Deere dealer, Seltzner said many of the adjustments you can make are universal.
Seltzner and Sennhenn said some of the key areas to make adjustments were:
Seltzner said checking the headers before harvest is important to prevent plugging. This includes setting the drum scrapers as close as possible, sharpening the edges of the cleaners and setting crop dividers with 1- to 7-millimeter clearance.
Additionally, stubble scrapers and cutting blades should be sharpened and checked daily as they experience high rates of wear. Seltzner said, if you feel a vibrating in your head, stubble scrapers should be the first place you check. He also noted, when you replace cutting blades, the tungsten coating should be placed at the top.
Headers (grass pick-up)
The intake auger should be set 0 to 2 millimeters from the scrapers and 20 millimeters from the deck sheet. Seltzner said finger-type intake augers are no longer available.
He also said paddles should be set depending on your windrow volume goals. For low-volume windrows, move the paddles out; for medium-volume windrows, move the paddles in; and for high-volume windrows, you can remove the paddles and brackets, but Seltzner would recommend leaving them in. The standard setup is the smooth side facing out and the paddle completely retracted. If the serrated side is out, it can lead to back-feeding and wrapping.
Ensure feedrolls have proper spring tension to prevent ragged cutting. Standard setup is two washers in the rear and three washers in the front. Seltzner said you want good tension on the rear feedroll to prevent ragged cutting. For more tension, the washers can be removed.
The upper-front feedroll (UFFR) plastic bars should be used for all crops, but they can be reversed for fragile crops or removed for more aggressive feeding in heavy corn.
Smooth roll scraper
The scraper should always be set at least 2 millimeters above the shear bar with a 0.8 millimeter-gap, or less, between the smooth roller to increase cutting quality and good feeding.
Knives and Shearbar
Seltzner said you should invest in good quality knives for your cutterhead and avoid aftermarket knives as they are not always made to specification. It is recommended to sharpen knives with 25 passes every 250 acres in corn silage and 150 acres in grass or alfalfa, but this will depend on tonnage and conditions.
Sharp knives and proper shearbar placement, in respect to the cutterhead, are necessary to reduce load on the engine. Seltzner said more power is required to do the same amount of work as the distance between the shearbar and cutterhead increases, and even more power is required with dull knives.
Transition chute and spout liners
At about mid-season, Seltzner said it is good to look down the pipe and see if the liners are wearing thin or if any holes have developed. Replaceable liners are available.
Manufacturer specific adjustments
Seltzner presented specific adjustments for the cutterhead, grass chute, and crop accelerator, but these may vary depending on your equipment manufacturer. Check with your manufacturer for specifics to help reduce wear on cutterhead knives and to create a smooth transition through the machine.
Similarly, kernel processors now have a wide variation with varying speed differentials. You should check with your manufacturer for the correct setting to allow optimal processing.
Seltzner closed with a reminder that adjustments need to be made every day and it is important to know your machine. He said everyone should grease equipment daily, have a good ear to hear if things are running smoothly and, most importantly, keep all equipment clean.