Read the current Progressive Forage digital edition
advertisement

Mechanics Corner: Corn chopper head maintenance

David Wagner Published on 30 May 2014

A forage harvester owner might ask, “How can I get my harvester and corn head ready to chop?” The few hours spent inspecting and doing preventative maintenance on a pull-type or self-propelled forage harvester and its head will pay off by getting a harvester in the field quickly when the crop is ready and then minimizing expensive downtime and costly repairs during harvest.

No matter what harvester is involved, it is always best to refer to the manufacturer’s owner’s manual for detailed information and to follow the safety recommendations listed.

Many equipment dealers offer pre-season and post-season inspection programs. If so, it may be a good idea to have a dealer perform a detailed inspection to make sure the machine is in top shape right from the start of the corn harvest.

The big advantage of this is that factory-trained servicemen will inspect the machine using a detailed checklist recommended by the manufacturer. That leaves less chance that something might be overlooked.

If an owner inspection is performed, a general machine checklist for the base harvester should include:

  • Split the feed rolls away from the cutterhead and closely inspect the knives and shear bar for wear, nicks, chips and loose hardware. Correct any deficiencies and reinstall them.

  • Inspect and replace wear liners as necessary.

  • Check the condition of the kernel processor rolls (if applicable), bearings, drive belt, etc. Set the roll gap to the desired starting point.

  • Check the condition of the accelerator/blower paddles. Adjust the clearance between paddles and back plate/band to minimize horsepower requirements.

  • Using the maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual, check the oil in the gearboxes and change it if needed.

  • Using the same maintenance schedule, lubricate all zerks not covered by the automatic greasing system (if installed).

  • Fill the automatic greasing system (if installed) with the proper grease, and check to be sure all lines are accepting grease.

  • Perform a general visual inspection of the unit, looking for wear, loose or missing hardware, and broken or missing parts – repairing or replacing as required.

  • Check tire pressure and adjust as needed. Torque wheel lugs to the proper specification.

  • Run the harvester, perform a full knife sharpening procedure and adjust the shear bar. Sharp knives save fuel and time, and give a more consistent chop quality. Sharpen early, and sharpen often.

If the harvester has a rotary corn head, an owner inspection checklist should include:

  • Service the head main drive slip clutches, following the procedure in the owner’s manual, or have a certified dealer perform this vital service.

  • Install the head on the base unit and connect the PTO, hydraulic lines and electrical harness.

  • Lubricate the head according to the owner’s manual. Check the oil in all head gearboxes and top up as needed.

  • Examine the stalk cutoff blades. The edges should be sharp and the hardware tight. Correct if necessary.

  • Inspect all crop gathering and transport drums to be sure fingers are straight and not rubbing on guides.

  • Inspect all drum cleaning blocks to be sure they are present and not rounded off. Replace if necessary.

  • Check the skid shoes and replace if worn.

  • If a chain corn head is involved, the checklist for an owner inspection will be slightly different and should include the following:

  • Install the head on the base unit and connect PTO, hydraulic lines and electrical harness.

  • Lubricate the head according to the owner’s manual.

  • Check the oil in all head gearboxes and top up as needed.

  • Examine the stalk cutoff blades. The edges should be sharp and the hardware tight. Correct if necessary.

  • Adjust the gathering chain tension and inspect sprockets and idlers for wear.

An important key to producing high-quality silage is the ability to harvest corn at exactly the right time during its growth cycle. That is always a challenge because the weather may not permit harvesting when the critical time arrives.

Having a forage harvester in top shape to begin chopping at a moment’s notice is critical. Equally important is avoiding downtime when the harvester is working in the field.

As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The payoff for regular inspections and maintenance will certainly be worth the effort.  FG

R. David Wagner is the forage marketing manager for New Holland.

LATEST BLOG

LATEST NEWS