Ahead of the hay and straw season, Alex Heath reports on what maintenance needs to be considered on a Massey Ferguson 1840 inline conventional baler.
For those who still enjoy throwing conventional bales about, be it for livestock in small buildings or the equine market, choice of machine is now limited, with only a handful of manufacturers still offering them here in the UK.
One of, if not the most, popular is the Massey Ferguson 1840 inline baler. Unusual in its design in this sector for not being offset, it sits behind the tractor as a round or large square baler does, said by the company to aid operator convenience and efficiency.
Ahead of the hay and straw baling season, we enlisted Richard Marson, combine and baler technician at B and B Tractors, to show us what needs focus before a busy period.
STARTING at the front of the machine, the pto obviously needs to be greased, with the condition of the universal joints checked.
Likewise, the American-built machine features a ball hitch, and this should be free to move and oscillate, with a light application of penetrating oil applied if it is sticking.
The first major area of frustration at baling time if proper pre-season maintenance has not been carried out, is in the slip clutch, which over winter could have seized up.
Mr Marson says this should be removed and checked. Three bolts hold it onto the shearbolt protected flywheel.
Once off the machine, nine bolts and springs hold the assembly together, which comprises five main parts; the back plate, the input shaft plate, two clutch discs and the front plate.
Clutch discs must be in good condition, without any cracks or blemishes present. Rub a piece of emery cloth over all the parts to remove any surface rust or oxidisation.
Reassemble and tighten the bolts springs so the springs measure 57.5mm in length, theoretically letting the clutch slip when the torque load exceeds 508Nm.
Check the flywheel’s shearbolt condition, as well as the bushes in the flywheel and the clearance between the input arm and the flywheel. The main gearbox uses EP90 oil, which should be monitored and topped up regularly.
Particular daily attention should be paid to the breather at the top of the gearbox, ensuring it is moving freely.
The main drive sprocket is also shearbolt protected, and should be inspected for the same issues as the flywheel.
THE knotting system can be the most problematic part of any baler, however, the 1840s now feature an electrically driven fan to help keep them clean. Mr Marson says this is the single most important part of hassle-free knot tying.
Often, failure to tie knots is due to excessive pressure in the bale chamber, so easing the pressure should be the first port of call.
However, care must be taken in checking the roller bearings on the cam tracks of the twisters are smooth with no flat edges, no chips, marks or broken teeth in the knotter gears, and that the knotter knives are making a clean cut.
Likewise, the string presentation in the retainers is important, as is the timing and position of the needles.
The needles should be just brushing against the knotter assemblies, says Mr Mason, and level on both knotters.
These can be adjusted at the rear of the machine by tweaking four bolts to get them level, however, these must be adjusted in accordance with the timing of the stuffer.
On the billhooks, there should be no rough edges where twine can snag, causing it not to release the twine, or cutting it, resulting in a weak knot. Stripper arms must also rub against the heel of the billhooks.
If it does not, this can be adjusted by bending it with a hammer or pry bar until it does so.
The tension of the twine coming from the spools is vital to the performance of the knotters.
Using a spring scale (Newton meter), the two spring loaded retaining plates at the rear of the spool boxes should be adjusted to provide 0.45 to 0.7kg of force, enough for the twine to be tight so the twine fingers can easily grab it.
THE plunger arm should be straight and true. To keep the stuffer centred both horizontally and vertically, it runs on a set of rails.
Ensure these rails are clear of debris, the rollers are free to move and the stuffer has no movement other than forwards and backwards. If it does, the top rails for vertical adjustment and the horizontal rollers can be moved to reduce movement.
Tolerances for these are small; vertically the gap between the top rollers and rail must be in the region of 0.38 to 0.76mm, while horizontally this needs to be just 0.25mm. Also check that the ram stop is working, to protect the needles in case timing of the system has drifted.
Unlike most conventional balers which cut the bale on the side, the MF cuts on the bottom. In total, five knives are present, three on the stuffer and two static to cut against.
For the static knives, laying a flat bar between the two rails, above the cutting edge and measuring the distance, which needs to be between 0.64 and 0.89mm, will determine if shims need to be added or removed.
Once done, the gap between the stuffer knives and static knives should be measured. This gap needs to be between 1.02 and 1.78mm, again with shims added or removed to achieve this range. Wear on the rails and rollers will affect this, so should be measured frequently.
Knives should be sharpened to 30-degrees and reinstalled with the bolts torqued to 105Nm.
Most balers now sold feature a hydraulic density system. Mr Marson says at the end of each baling session the pressure in the system should be released, and yearly the oil should be changed.
Bale length is determined by the star/metering wheel, connected to the knurled wheel, driving the knotter trip arm. It is the arm and a knurled wheel that need to be checked for any worn or broken teeth, which can cause irregular bale lengths.
The springs on the hay dogs also need to be checked for tension, making sure they are free to move in and out of the chamber.
CHAINS and bearings around the machine should be inspected and greased daily, as there is not an auto-lube system on board.
Ensuring the pickup reel drive chains are also adequately tightened is imperative as due to the design, the chains become taut when the pickup is lifted on hydraulic models, causing tension to be lost over time.
Likewise, over time the keys holding the sprocket on can work loose, so a quick tap with a hammer to ensure they are well-seated is advised.
Chains driving the feed augers can break from time to time, says Mr Marson. Augers must be set correctly to ensure an even feed.
This means the end of the auger flights have to be opposite each other, when the chains are replaced.
Before the main chamber, the feed housing which the feed forks pendulum in and out of needs to be smooth and without any major damage from stones and the like.