A keen eye and knowing what to look for can prove cost effective when sizing up second hand sprayers.
When £150,000-200,000 feels like a step too far for a new self-propelled sprayer, a secondhand machine seems like a smart purchase - as long as you know what to look for.
For those considering the brightly liveried Sands range, the SLC and its successor, the Vision shown here, are almost identical as the firm’s Clive Rische explains.
“Vision used the same cab structure, but with a curved front windscreen for better visibility and more internal cab space, plus a revised cab roof moulding, with beefed up air conditioning,” he says.
“In-cab controls were also grouped onto the armrest to improve ergonomics and pipework to the boom was collected and routed through an ‘energy track’ to improve durability.”
Spray packs for SLC and Vision comprise a 12/24m boom, and the option of 3,000 litre and 4,000 litre tanks.
High clearance derivatives have also been built, using taller wheel motor assemblies to give 1,250mm ground clearance from front to back. Depending on the model, wheel tracks can be manually adjusted from 1.62-1.8m (64-72in) and from 1.8-2.13m (72-84in).
A 4,000-litre ‘E’ version arrived in the Vision line-up, complete with a chassis stretched by 700mm and a lower profile tank – the latter reduced overall height by 155mm. With a lower centre of gravity, the 4.0E was developed for improved stability on steeply sloping ground. Latest Vision models can also be found with a 5,500-litre tank.
The SLC arrived for the 2003 season and remained in production for almost six years. Power came initially from a 913 air-cooled Deutz six-pot engine, offering 135hp (3,000-litre) and 161hp (4,000-litre).
In 2004, the 914 engine lifted power to 148hp and 172hp respectively, and was replaced in 2005 by a liquid cooled Deutz 2012 engine boasting 165hp and 178hp ratings.
In 2007, Deutz engines gained common rail fuel injection to meet Stage 3a emissions, soaring to 178hp and 209hp, and by January 2009, the SLC was replaced by the Vision.
“Deutz engines are robust and strong in this application,” says Mr Rische. “If there are no obvious oil leaks and servicing is carried out on time, the Deutz engine will perform for years. We have quite a few models with over 15,000 hours on the clock, which have not been touched.”
Though he points out that engine hours will have quite an impact on secondhand values.
“A 2010 Vision with 6,000 hours will have a value of around £50,000, while a 3,000-hour example of the same age, can fetch over £70,000,” he says. “Even so, it’s still quite a saving on new.”
Condition is everything. Take the time to inspect thoroughly, look for service history and make sure everything works correctly.
Where SLC operators will be reaching around for controls and switches, Vision operators get far more convenience, with all controls grouped onto the right-hand armrest.
Joystick buttons can stick. Though they are easily replaceable, as are the rubber covers that sit on top of them – and both switches and covers are sold in pairs.
Master spray control on/off is foot-operated in the SLC, but joystick-mounted in the Vision.
With switches and valves being air-over-hydraulic, any air leaks are easy to locate and fix. Most air valves are easy to dismantle and clean, or simply replace, says Mr Rische.
Sands uses a tripod-link suspension system for the front axle. While impressively comfortable, those models showing signs of wear will present a clonking noise over bumps.
The culprit is a worn bearing that locates under the cab. On SLC and early Vision models, the bearing assembly is welded in place and needs to be cut off, with a new one welded back into place. Latter Vision models use a bolted design, which simplifies replacement.
The big fear factor with any hydrostatically driven sprayer is that of wheel motor failure, and the cost of repair and replacement.
The early warning signs for pending failure is an oil weep around the wheel flange area. Keeping wheel motors clean makes them easy to inspect on a regular basis.
Sands offers an exchange wheel motor service, and the cost of a replacement varies according to the level of damage operators inflict.
“We charge according to the cost of repair that is needed to get an exchange motor up to our standard,” he says. “If you see an oil weep and replace the motor immediately, it’ll be a cost-effective swap. If you drive on, and the motor becomes badly damaged, it’ll cost much more to replace.”
Hydraulic system contamination is largely contained, says Mr Rische, through the use of oil filtration into and out of the tank, and also on wheel motor drain lines.
Drooping or sagging booms are easily adjusted at their hinge points, and the firm offers seal kits for refurbishing any leaking boom folding rams.
Pipework affords easy drain-off points too, allowing operators to frost-proof their sprayers using compressed air to clear all lines of clean water.
Rear-mounted spray valves and induction hopper are robust, says the firm, and there are two sprayer pump capacities in use – a 240-litre or fast-fill 400 litre version.
Both are six-piston, and a glance at the oil reservoir that sits on top of the pump will reveal much about pump health.
Oil should be clean-looking – any milky appearance or greyness indicates contamination from split diaphragms, which will need replacing.