Thursday, July 30, 2015
I Am Amazed it Worked!!!
Believe it or not the baler actually worked. I went out this morning and crawled all around, over and under her as best I could locating all the lube points. I WD-40'd every working part that didn't have a grease fitting and cleaned off the knotters. I didn't sharpen the cutter blades though as I still haven't gotten an operators manual for this baler yet and wasn't sure how to get to them without taking the knotter apart blind.
All ready to go I slowly maneuvered the baler into the starting position and took off. Man I have never appreciated the live PTO before as I did with this baler. She likes to go SLOW. No grabbing hair and banging the headboard with this old girl, you have to give her time to work the loose hay up into the ram or she will bog down quick. The back and forth motion of that over sized flywheel reminded me of my college days with a non-baffled water bed more than anything else.
Once I got the pace figured out the first bale should have been on the ground I thought. Then I remembered I forgot to lower the damned chute the bale comes out of..... OOOPS.
First bale didn't tie at all. Second bale didn't tie at all. Third bale kinda tied on the right side.
I stopped and opened up the cover over the knotters.
The left knotter was totally clogged with twine. I was amazed they got so covered in dust in such a short period. I had to take off that bottom bolt you see in the center and lift the left knotter up and clean out all inside the little clip thing underneath that you can't see. The blade appeared to be sharp enough and the dog was swinging easily so I hoped it had just been some left over twine that was stopping the knotter from working.
Got it back together again and off we went. By the second bale she was actually tying off the knot on both sides!!!! Success!!!!
Then I noticed the bales that were coming out were about as long as three normal bales.
Back to the baler again.
I tightened down the chute control arms and by the time I finished with the field I was getting bales almost the right length. I briefly thought about opening up all the extra long bales and re-baling them then decided it wasn't worth the effort. I will just stack these long bales in the bottom part of the barn and feed them to the rams who are currently dry lotted and getting hay fed daily anyway.
The last two bales of the 15 total were down to about half again longer than they should be so I haven't yet got the entire thing worked out. With 13 double long bales and 2 half again too long I estimate the total haul was about 30 normal sized bales. That is exactly what I predicted after raking.
To be honest if I was out loading those bales for someone else baling them I would be giving the operator so much crap he would more than likely take a swing at me. They were that bad :) I mean sad bales to be honest, but they are baled using equipment that has been sitting idle for decades in some cases. Not a tractor or implement is younger than 40 years old and most of it is over 50. Basically I was baling like they did in the 1960's. I put all this equipment together for under $1800.00 not counting the tractors.
Thirty bales of second cut Alfalfa will go for anywhere between five and eight dollars a bale depending on the year. I estimate these would be at the bottom of the scale since although a second cutting with all the rain there is still a lot of weed and grass in them. For sheep feed though they are perfect because the sheep LOVE those weeds.
Running the numbers on this little endeavor shows me that counting in what it costs to have someone cut it for me and taking it at three cuttings per year on the small Alfalfa field only, the equipment will pay for itself entirely by the end of the second year. If I get the large field re-established to where I can cut and bale it myself it would pay for itself within the first year I am betting. Of course that is assuming no other costs or breakdowns at this point. I am also not figuring in time as a cost factor or fuel used to pick up this little motley assortment of out dated stuff.
Also I need to be honest with myself and admit that if I had had a better mower I more than likely would have increased the bale count by at least half. There was a lot of knocked over Alfalfa and other grass left out there.
For the first run of a fairly complex and drawn out affair though I would say the results were more than satisfactory. Fuel use especially was well below what newer equipment would run I imagine on such a small scale anyway. If I was shooting for larger production I bet the newer equipment would beat me there but for small runs when fuel is scarce I think this would be the way to go.
Just more to consider I guess.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!