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Modified Swather Makes Tunnel Inside Window
"It's the swather of the future," says Bob Stewart, a Zillah, Wash., custom hay harvester who has come up with a tunnel-making windrow modification that he says cuts drying time in hay and small grain crops by 30 to 75%.
Stewart modified shields around the conditioner rollers at the back of the cutter-head on his 12-ft. wide self-propelled New Holland 912 swather. Hay comes off the rollers in a rounded, rain-shedding windrow that's got a 6-in. dia. tunnel at its center.
"It lets hay dry from the inside. As the hay wilts, sun shines through it and into the tunnel. I've let windrows stand for 8 or 9 days and, even after a rain, the tunnel holds up. If you flip the windrow after a week, you can still see the indent of the tunnel in the upside down windrow," explains Stewart. The rounded shape of the windrow also helps promote faster drying since it sheds rain, unlike conventional flat windrows.
The tunnel-making modification, which Stewart says could be done to any swather or mower conditioner, is just one of several changes Stewart made to his machine. He also added 4 extra bats to his 4-bat reel, replaced the sickle bar with a double-bladed knife, speeded up the cutterbar, and added extra paddles to the feeder auger.
"If you feed hay more smoothly into the machine, you get less slugs in the windrow. The more even the windrow, the faster it dries," notes Stewart. He says the original 4-bat reel on the swather bunches hay against the knives while the 8-bat reel pulls hay off the knives faster to prevent plugging. The double-bladed knife - it has 3-in. sections with 2 points - and increased cutting speed help the machine handle the increased flow of material.
"It's unbelievable how much faster and easier this machine moves through even the heaviest hay crop. It makes extremely smooth, even windrows," says Stewart, who'd like to license his swather innovations to a manufacturer.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bob Stewart, Rt. 2, Box 2552, Zillah, Wash. 98953 (ph 509 829-5783).

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1987 - Volume #11, Issue #4