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Plug-Proof Swather Keeps Crop Moving

After he got tired of plugging up his combine on lumpy, uneven windrows, Cyril Colonel, Cresston, British Columbia, decided to "plug-proof" the 14-ft. header on his Versatile 4400 swather by mounting a commercially-built vertical sickle on the right snout of the header and by mounting an auger off an old Deere combine on the header, just above the draper.
Separate hydraulic motors are used to operate the auger and sickle.
"I can't believe how well the swather works now," says Colonel. "The sickle cuts away canola stems that would other-wise bunch up on the snout, and the auger keeps the crop from bunching up by grabbing the material and feeding it into the opening. I think the same idea would work with any bulky crop."
Colonel says a lodged canola crop is one of the toughest crops to swath. "In the past, no matter which way the plants were leaning, they'd bunch up and eventually plug up the end of the header's sickle. The crop also tended to bunch up at the back of the header. I tried making the swather opening wider but it didn't solve the problem. Having more even windrows lets me increase my combine speed and virtually eliminates plugging."
The 18-in. dia., 15-ft. auger was salvaged from an old Deere 55 self-propelled combine and is chain-driven by a hydraulic motor that's bolted onto the left side of the header. He cut 1 ft. off the auger and used the auger's original mounting brackets to bolt it onto the header. He removed a split shaft that was inside the auger and replaced it with a steel shaft that runs the length of the auger. He mounted a flexible coupling and sprocket on one end of the shaft and mounted another sprocket on the hydraulic motor.
To power the extra hydraulic motors he had to install an additional hydraulic pump on the swather and run an extra line out of the hydraulic reservoir.
"This modified swather works better than anything on the market and didn't cost much to set up," says Colonel. "I used it last year to harvest 650 acres of canola that yielded 55 to 70 bu. per acre. I was able to go 7 or 8 mph with no problems even though some of the crop was badly tangled. It left a beautiful, even swath with all the pods on top. Flow control valves allow me to regulate the speed of the knife and auger independently.
"I first tested the idea three years ago when I mounted a 10-ft. auger on a New Holland 905 swather. I think the same idea would work on any swather brand or model. There are a lot of old combines lying around that can be bought cheap. I paid $750 for the sickle and motor and $1,400 for the auger, hydraulic pump, motor, and flow control valves. My total cost was about $2,100.
"I run the auger about 5 percent faster than the draper. The back of the auger is right up against the header frame and 8 in. above the drapers. The center of the auger was equipped with retractable fingers that weren't in good condition so I removed the entire retractable finger mechanism. I re-move the auger whenever I harvest timothy grass because the auger would shatter the seed. It takes only about 15 minutes to re-move the auger.
"MacDon makes a header equipped with a pair of augers but it sells for about $25,000 and doesn't work as well as mine. The problem is that the augers are only 10 in. in diameter which allows the crop to wrap up around them. My auger is big enough to push the crop down and stuff it through the opening.
"I mounted a separate hydraulic pump because I didn't know if the swather's hydraulic pump would have enough capacity. However, I plan to use the combine's existing hydraulic pump when I add an auger and sickle to a new swather that I recently bought."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Cyril Colonel, Box 2400, Cresston, B.C., Canada V0B 1G0 (ph 250 866-5306).


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1997 - Volume #21, Issue #3