Claas Liner four-rotor rakes have kept many a forager working to the max for the last 20 years. So a tidy, used example could prove a sensible buy for those wanting more output.
Chris Charman of Claas Western guides Geoff Ashcroft around a Liner 4000...
Claas revealed its Liner 3000 four-rotor rake back in 1998. Offering a working width of 12m - a huge leap forward from the twin rotor units available at the time.
Liner 3000’s used a detachable tine arm to help reduce overall height and make such a large machine a little easier to transport.
The four-rotor Liner series evolved over the years to include 3500, 3600 and 4000 models – the latter arriving in 2009. Our featured example is a 2013 4000 model at Claas Western’s Cirencester depot, priced at £29,750.
The Liner 4000 brought spider-like front beams to help with machine folding at the wider working width, to maintain a sub-four metre overall transport height without having to remove any tine arms.
Rotors came with a 3.8m diameter, and the use of telescopic booms for each rotor allowed a wide range of in-field adjustment. This model could extend its working width from 12.2m to 15m, and by tweaking the position of the rear rotors, could produce a swath width from 1.5m to 2.6m.
All four-rotor Liners came with a hydraulic system which could be adapted to load-sensing capability, to prevent powering one spool on constant pumping, and running the risk of over-heating a tractor’s hydraulic oil.
Working height of all four rotors could be adjusted manually by crank handles, or by optional hydraulic height adjustment as found on our featured example.
The heart of the Liner 4000 is its four rotor heads, tine arms and tines.
The firm’s Profix tine arms can be found on later models which use a multi-spline fitting, offering better durability than those using two points of contact which had a habit of chattering when worn.
“Pay close attention to the tine arms, to make sure they are fully located in the rotor head,” says Chris Charman.
“When they wear, the arms can start to slide out. Though the spring retainers can be re-tensioned using 3mm shims, to keep the arms fully located.
“The rear rotors handle a heavier workload, so are the ones that need to be thoroughly checked.”
In addition, he says tine arms should not be bent out of shape. If they are, the machine could have sustained damage to the cam track,” he warns.
“Try and twist each arm in the direction of work. If there is internal damage, they will clunk badly and you will be able to rotate them far beyond their intended working range.”
Rotors are mounted on telescopic arms, which use nylon wear plates to keep the sliding mechanism tight. Grab a rotor and give it a wriggle to check for excess play in any of the linkages.
Each arm carries four double tines, and the most popular fitment is a straight tine, though cranked tines are available. Making sure they all line up – and are of equal length – will influence raking performance.
“Make sure all the rotor guards are in place too – they often get damaged or removed, and are quite costly to replace,” he says. “Like pto guards, they must be up to the task of meeting safety requirements.”
The very nature of a four-rotor rake – unless it has hydraulic drives – means it will use a lot of pto shafts and gearboxes, to get drive down through the middle of the implement and out to each rotor.
All aspects of the powertrain need maintenance in the form of regular greasing and oil changes, in accordance with the operator’s manual.
Check each gearbox for correct oil level and content. Burnt oil will be easily identified with a sniff, and any signs of gear or bearing failure will see silvery particles contaminate the oil. Decant a small amount of oil from each gearbox and inspect its condition.
“Every pto fitting should be pushed, pulled and wriggled, to feel for excess play on their respective shaft fittings,” he says.
“And the longer shafts should be inspected to ensure they are still straight.”
Inspect hydraulic hoses for leaks, chaffing and splits, and check the folding mechanism’s spring assisters to make sure they are not broken.
Model: Claas Liner 4000 (as featured)
Working width: 12.2-15m
Rotor diameter: 3.8m
Swath width: 1.5-2.6m
Transport height: less than 4m
Controls: Claas Communicator
Tractor requirements: One double acting spool, from 100hp
Hydraulic system: Self-contained, load sensing
Early Liner 3000 models had just three wheels under each rotor, with later models upgraded to four.
The wider Liner 4000 uses four wheels under each of its front rotors, while the rear rotors get six wheels.
“The rear rotors do much more work and handle the entire volume of crop being raked up,” he says.
“Check the castor wheels for excess play – they sit in their respective frames with nylon bushings and are easily replaced when worn.
“Wheel bearings are a sealed item, but they can become noisy and start to fail, so again, give them all a wriggle and spin them, to see if any need replacing,” he says.
“A four-rotor rake that has been stored outside – and many are because of their size – are vulnerable to the weather.
“Wheel rims do have a drain hole to let water get away, but be prepared to check things,” he adds. “Replacement wheel assemblies are available.”
In-cab controls extend to Claas’ Communicator system. Later models got this larger control panel, offering a wide range of adjustments, plus machine fold/unfold.
At the rear, a swath curtain can be raised and lowered, and is useful to catch and contain the crop when raking on sloping or rolling fields.
While folding the machine in and out of work, inspect the frame and chassis for signs of fatigue, or any areas which might need to be strengthened with the welder. Any fracturing is likely to be caused by high-speed travel over many road miles.
Run through all functions and features, to check everything works as it should. Do not expect to find any record of hours or acres covered - you can only buy on condition alone.
The Liner 4000 carries a lot of position sensors to monitor and manage rotor and arm positions, and a loose wire or dodgy connection could soon show up, following a test of how the rake operates.
2013, Liner 4000, 12-15m, £29,750
2012, Liner 4000, 12-15m, £26,000
2010, Liner 3000, 12m, £15,000
2006, Liner 3000, 12m, £7,600
2000, Liner 3000, 12m, £6,500
Tine arms: from £81.04
Straight tines: £9.27
Castor wheel bushes: £3.15
Wheel bearings (rotor wheels): £8.90
Rotor wheel assembly: £63.74
Swath curtain: £87.46
Outer rotor guard: from £192.02
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