A used forage wagon can offer a cost-effective option for those looking to take more control of their silaging operation. Geoff Ashcroft sought some buying tips from Opico’s Strautmann specialist David Mein.
A used Strautmann forage wagon can be a good investment for the canny buyer.
Strautmann’s Giga Vitesse has proved a popular buy for many farms up and down the UK as an alternative to precision chop foragers or round balers.
It sits in a large line-up of Strautmann forage wagons, now offered from distributor Opico. Below it in the range are Zelon and Super Vitesse models, and at the top of the range is the Terra Vitesse series which extends to 95cu.m and runs on a triple axle design.
Chop length comes in at about 35mm from the Giga’s 45-knife rotor, and the power requirement is said to be about 180hp - but not for the pto power. This size of tractor is recommended, says Strautmann specialist David Mein, to ensure there is a big enough tractor up front to handle the Giga’s bulk.
Models offer IsoBus control, plus a self-loading capability and the intake also includes Straumann’s CFS - continuous flow system - to help spread taller swaths across the full width of the intake rotor.
IsoBus also allows work to be recorded including loads carried, so it is worth plugging in the control box to see how much work your potential purchase has covered.
Hydraulic adjustment of the drawbar affords pickup raise/lower. This can lead to excessive wear on the drawbar ring from the frequent change of working angle, so is worth checking out from a safety point of view.
The Giga Vitesse uses a cam-less 2m pickup for minimal maintenance, complete with CFS - Straumann’s continuous flow system, which uses a spiral-fluted roller which sits behind the pickup to spread the swath in front of the main intake rotor, with the focus on improving load density.
CFS is shaft driven and includes its own slip clutch which should be checked and set each season, according to the machine handbook.
Later models get plastic tine stripper guides in place of metal units, prolonging the life of the pickup tines, which are arranged in a V-format to even out crop flow.
Pay close attention to the scrapers which sit behind the feed rotor. If they become damaged and lose their gap, they can cut into the rotor with expensive consequences.
The main rotor’s gearbox should have its oil replaced annually, as should the machine’s other gearboxes.
The chopping unit features double-sided knives which also get a protection system, allowing knives to trip out in the event of an obstacle passing through the intake.
Each knife pivots around a steel roller when tripped, and it is important that these rollers are not seized, says Mr Mein. If the blade cannot pivot easily when it needs to, then the entire knife assembly can become overloaded and the carrier frame could bend.
A tool is provided which locates into each blade, simplifying their removal and refitting without the need to grab blades by hand.
A sensor also looks across the knives, warning the operator if a knife is tripped. Resetting the knives can be done from the cab, and can be easily achieved during a headland turn for example, to make the most of productivity.
Being double-sided and held in place using a quick-release mechanism, knives can be pulled out and turned around mid-way through the day for example.
Giga Vitesse forage wagons run on 710/50 R26.5 flotation tyres. The rear axle comes with a passive steering system, improving maneuverability and reducing tyre wear.
A sensor monitors wheel rotation and when it detects backwards movement, it automatically locks the rear axle’s hydraulic rams to simplify reverse maneuvers. Active steering, using a potentiometer on the drawbar, is optional.
Leaf springs take the strain, though an optional hydraulic suspension system is available. Standard braking system is powered hydraulically and does not offer load sensing, but simply on and off. An air brake system can be specified as an option and does include a load sensing function.
Later models include a safety break-away system which relies on a rope tied between tractor and the forage wagon’s emergency braking valve. Should the two separate, the rope tugs at the valve and applies the brakes using accumulated energy. It is a useful function given the machine’s payload potential.
Pay attention to mudguards, which can suffer fatigue - most of which is caused by operators reversing too far into a clamp when unloading, putting undue strain on the thin metal mudguards. It is nothing a welder cannot fix.
The Giga’s moving floor features four bed chains and two rows of slats. Floors can be steel or wooden - the latter is the more popular option and affords recessed bed chains. Bed chains are automatically tensioned, but the ratcheting tension system and its pawls need greasing to prevent seizure.
A two-speed unloading system is fitted as standard, giving soft start before the higher speed can be applied for rapid unloading. The moving floor is powered at the rear, and driven by hydraulic motors on both sides of the machine to evenly distribute power.
Those looking to use their Vitesse for zero grazing might be interested to know the forage wagon can also be specified with a beater on the rear door, plus cross conveyor and knife blanking kit, leaving you to fit a front-mounted mower to knock down grass.
An additional blanking kit is available to cover the top of rotor, for those looking to use their forage wagon as a moving floor trailer.
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