Essentially, the design of the Lely Storm has not changed since its introduction in 1989, when it was known as the Mengele SH40, so can it keep up with the evolved JF-Stoll machine?
The Storm now features a 1.8m wide pick-up reel instead of the old 2m version. The reason for this, says the manufacturer, is to aid transport width. However, we believe the firm has missed a trick to reduce transport width and retain a wider pick-up reel.
The pick-up has two removable ground wheels - one either side. For a narrower transport width, the right-hand one needs removing, with the left one left in-place. If the left wheel was taken out too, the drawbar could fold further in - reducing transport width. Or, as we think, since the wheels have to be taken off anyway, why not have a wider reel and still retain the same transport width. A folding drawbar might also be a solution.
Most of the Storm’s hydraulics are powered by its own on-board, pto-driven oil pump (oil change every 500 hours). This powers the hydraulics for the pick-up reel, chute swivel and feed roller forward and reverse.
Advantages of this system include less heat build-up compared to a tractor constantly having to pump, and a tractor with less sophisticated hydraulics can be used.
However, the downside is controls are split between the tractor and forager’s control boxes, and every time you just want to move the chute or the pick-up reel, the pto needs firing up, which is awkward in maintenance situations.
As for the folding drawbar and optional pick-up hitch, these are powered by the tractor’s own hydraulics. The chute’s deflector flap is electric and the spout can be fitted with a hydraulically-driven worm gear for 280 degrees of swivel.
Compared to the JF-Stoll, the Lely’s controls are much less intuitive to use. Its control box is made up of four sticks - one for forward and reverse of feed rollers, one for pick-up reel raise and lower, one for spout swivel and one for flap angle. Putting all the chute controls on one stick would be a huge improvement.
However, its spout is much handier to use than the JF’s, although a bit more height and length would not go a miss, which is available as an option.
Hydraulics and electrics are responsive, and the dog clutch-driven feed roller reversing system provides positive drive and confidence the machine will unblock itself.
Initially we thought the crop flow on the Lely’s pick-up reel was a bit suspect, with material rising up behind the auger. However, this characteristic did not turn out to be an issue, with grass finding its way to the feed rollers without interruption. Teeth in the centre of the auger also help with shorter crops.
Despite being physically smaller than the JF-Stoll, it kept up very well - usually about one gear below, working between 8-10kph in comparable conditions, following a 7m rake.
The draft the Lely produces is phenomenal - it sounds like a thunderstorm when the grass hits an empty trailer. An advantage of this means trailers could be in the next county and the grass would still reach. But some leaf loss does occur because it is blown at such an immense force.
What we like, thanks to all the energy in the flywheel, is the huge amount of confidence the Lely instils, with its ability to handle variable swaths and lumps.
Even when it pulls the tractor’s engine down, it will still take the crop. This allows you to concentrate on looking at the spout and where you are going.
Grease points and general maintenance access are very good, without too much need to put yourself into awkward positions. Unfortunately, a couple of the guards do need taking off completely to access the forager - we can see users just leaving them off for convenience.
Sharpening the knives is via a large round sharpening stone, which is wound towards the fly-wheel. To evenly sharpen the blades, the pitch angle of the sharpening stone can be altered.
The manufacturer says the stone, if used properly, should last for six to 12 seasons. The shear bar is also reversible and can be used on two edges.
For even greater access to the guts of the forager, and if the feed rollers need dropping out, the pick-up reel can be removed in a couple of minutes. A service wheel also allows easy handling of the reel when on level ground.
To adapt to different powered tractors, the main pulleys and belt which drive the flywheel can be changed. Ours was set up to turn the flywheel at 620rpm (tractors up to 200hp). For tractors under 140hp, pulleys can be fitted so the flywheel turns at 550rpm.
Chop length is easy to adjust, requiring just two gears to be swapped, which are held in-place by lynch pins. Pick-up reel speed can also be altered independently of the feed roller speed, but Lely finds 90 per cent of people just keep them the same.
It is fitted as standard with five paddles and 10 knives. These can be individually adjusted via grub screws. There is no concave adjustment as such; the gap between the concave liner and the flywheel’s paddles is adjusted by moving the paddles. Shear bar distance is adjusted by moving the flywheel back and forth. Blades have to be swapped in pairs.