Monday, November 06, 2006

Feeder Wagon Maintenance

By Charlie McCarron

With grass burning off fast around the UK, diet feeders are being wheeled out to start bolstering rations. Charlie McCarron runs through a few tips to keep wagons running smoothly

As often is the case, the only service preparation a diet feeder will receive is a shot of oil around the pto - and that's only because it's seized and makes hitching up a headache.

At the risk of teaching proverbial grandmothers to suck proverbial eggs, we aim to point out a few key areas of attention before the season gets into full swing.

The Hi-Spec Mix Max wagon sold in large numbers across the country and is as good an example as any to use in highlighting what to look out for on the maintenance front.

* If the scales seem dodgy it could be down to the weigh-cells - one on each corner of the machine. The two smaller bolts should be tight, but the larger one should turn freely.

* On older machines the door ram mounting bracket was welded directly on to the tub. If this is the case, when the tub is wearing thin the bracket can be seen to flex when the door is operated. It is also a good idea to check the bracket for cracks and stresses even if it has been chassis mounted. - it may prevent a breakage later on.

* The majority of Mix Max feeders were fitted with side-door elevators. Underneath is one of the first places to wear thin. Fold up the elevator and tap the plate underneath to check for thinning. On some machines a door knife is fitted to ensure material doesn't snag as feed is being dispensed. Ensure it is kept sharp.

* An important aspect of diet feeding is getting weights and measures right, so you need to make sure the scales are functioning. A simple check to see if all is well is to hang off the scale arm. If you know how much you weigh, the display should read that amount.

* The chain-and-slat elevator is adjusted by two tensioners on either side. Two fingers are a good guide for chain tension, as illustrated.

* The bolts which hold the nylon rollers in place are fitted with grease nipples. Ensure the rollers are free-turning to avoid rapid wear.

* At the front of the wagon check the main drive gear 1 teeth for wear and ensure that the nylon guide 2 isn't worn on one side. If so, loosen the bolt and rotate it. Loosening the four bolts on the bracket 3 and winding the adjuster 4 adjusts the main chain tension.

* To ensure that the machine empties completely, the rubber pads on the mixing paddles should be in good nick. This makes for increased accuracy when working with strict mixed rations.

* Many thanks to Philip Male and the team at Bigwood & Partners, Taunton, Somerset for advice offered for this report


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