Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hay Bale Gathering Attachment

Near the end of the video
After watching a video of my daughter's horse, You Tube offered a video of a tractor carrying 12 round bales of straw. The title of the video claims it is Case IH, the tractor, that is awesome. What is really awesome is the attachment. On the right is a still I extracted from near the end as it raised its last square bale. A posting concerning round bales and large square bales has been on my to do list for months. That posting will remain on my to-do list because I want to concentrate on the hydraulics of this attachment in this posting.

I started counting the different movements this attachment can make because each one requires at least one hydraulic ram. Below are the movements.
  • raise and lower the tines for transport to the field vs. field use: 6
  • raise and lower the rear "wings": 4
  • raise and lower the far front tine bar: 1
  • raise and lower the entire front attachment: this is done with the tractor's hitch
  • raise and lower the far rear wings bar: 1
  • raise and lower the near rear wings bar: 1
  • raise and lower the entire rear attachment: this is done with the tractor's hitch
And then it occurred to me that each of these movements would also require a separate hydraulic circuit!  Tractors are being built with more and more circuits, but the most I have seen in a tractor's specification is five. My first thought is that when you install this attachment, you also have to install a control panel with a lot of valves in the cab. But that would require a lot of hoses between the attachments and the cab.
Timestamp 3:56 of the video
I found a view where you can rather clearly see that there is only two hoses between the tractor and the front attachment. So there must be some sort of electrically activated set of valves in the front attachment that is controlled by a set of switches in the cab. I went back to the beginning and looked for a view showing the hoses to the rear attachment. I found two pairs of hoses.

Timestamp 0: 21
The tractor is controlling five circuits: two hitches and three hose pairs. And the tractor needs to be able to set the hose pair circuits at "always full on." The front attachment is then controlling three circuits --- two tines position and the front tine bar. The rear attachment has two controllers --- one for the near wings bar and another for the far wings bar. The near wing bar controller is managing four circuits --- two tines position and two wing position. The far wing bar controller is managing those same four circuits plus a circuit to raise and lower the wing bar itself.

When I visit farm equipment dealers, I'm going to have to look for attachments of this complexity in terms of the number of hydraulic circuits being controlled and verify they also have electric wires running between the cab and the attachment. I have yet to see electrically controlled hydraulic valves in person.

The You Tube comments for this video had the theme that a self-loading wagon would be a better solution. Issues raised with this solution were: ground compaction, complexity, and illegal to carry a load on the roads.

Update: a video of a method to stack big square bales six at a time. It makes a stack that is 3+3+3+2+1 that is then covered by plastic.

TrucksMedia at 11:50
A video of baling the big square bales. There is some footage of gathering the bales. A couple of seconds after he lowers the baler's pickup at 1:12, you can hear a couple of cycles of the plunger packing the hay into the bale. At 1:34, the tractor driver plugged the unit and you can hear the slip clutch not allowing the pickup to feed anymore hay. So he had to backup and work the plug through the machine. At least he did not have to get out of the cab and pull hay out of the machine to get it going again. The baler we used was too stupid to stop the pickup when under heavy load, it would just break the shear bolt. You not only had to stop and pull hay out, you had to replace the bolt. It was a big no-no to not slow down when the windrow was big to avoid a plug. At 2:42 it occurred to me that one advantage of no longer making tricycle tractors is that the tractor can run over the windrow and the baler pickup can be centered behind the tractor rather than offset to the right. That makes it a lot easier to leave a field and run the baler down a road. You can also hear the plunger in that clip as it processes the windrow. At 4:26 they start collecting the bales.
20141108 0155
The tractors move across the field a lot faster than we would in the 60s and 70s. Do the bigger tractor tires smooth out a rough field that effectively? I looked through some pictures I have taken at tractor dealers to confirm that I don't think they have added springs between the axle and frame. Furthermore, in the video the tires do not move with respect to the frame. Note the dust clouds behind the balers at 8:59. I was surprised when one of the extras hired to stack the small bales in the mow said he would rather work in the mow than load the wagon in the field because of the dust in the field. Hay mowing was really hot, hard work. I could not do it. I would help by unloading the hay from the wagon onto the elevator and driving the wagon back to the field to get a full wagon while the mow gang rested. Finally, at 9:37 they show how they stack the bales four high on the gathering attachment. It turns out to be rather low tech but would take some skill on the part of the driver.

Screenshot from a video posted by Ulku Koroglu
Another Update: Stacking big bales seems to be a ripe subject for innovation. I still can't get over how fast farm equipment moves on a field now days.
This thumbnail seems to be bogus. The video shows multiple approaches for picking up bales, but nothing this complex.

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