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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Wiltshire contractor builds one-of-a-kind bale chaser

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A majority of the equipment knocked collectively in a farm workshop has a sure rustic appeal that comes from placing it within the subject earlier than making use of the ending touches.

Not so for Wiltshire farmer and contractor Peter Williams, who has just lately accomplished a six-year undertaking to construct a customized bale chaser.

See additionally: How you can construct your individual tractor autosteer system for £700

With 485ha of arable cropping of their very own and a joint-venture baling enterprise – Southern Hay and Straw – the Williams household have a reasonably intense harvest interval that sees combining and straw clearance come without delay.

“At anyone time we’d have as much as 9 balers out working, which may imply there are tens of hundreds of bales scattered throughout the farms the place we purchase straw,” explains Mr Williams.

“Understandably, farmers need their fields cleared as rapidly as potential and we usually use a mix of telehandlers and chasers to get the job carried out.”

Peter Williams has spent six years creating his personal bale chaser that’s able to dealing with a spread of various bale sizes © Nick Fone

Unique design

To that finish, again in 2010 he constructed his personal stack mover to hurry up getting straw shifted. It’s based mostly on an outdated lorry chassis and works very similar to the “56-squeeze” small bale carriers from days of outdated.

The method sees a loader stack the 120x70cm bales in packs of as much as 14. The trailer then backs as much as the stack with its gates ajar and decrease pincers opened out, the bales are squeezed up tight and the whole thing then folds flat onto the chassis for transport.

As soon as on the predominant stack the process is reversed, with the pack sat upright as soon as once more. (The bale stacker trailer acquired a point out in dispatches in Farmers Weekly’s 2011 Farm Innovations Competitors).

Enterprise information: Southern Hay and Straw

  • Tractors Owned: Fendt 516, 818, 724, 942, JD 6155R, 6195R, 6250R, 7310R; employed: Fendt 828, 939, 724 x 2, JD 6250R
  • Loaders Owned: JCB 536-70 and 542-70; employed: JCB 542-70 x 3
  • Balers Fendt NXD 1290s x 4, Krone 1290 HDP II Excessive Velocity, Krone 1270 MultiPack, Claas 2200 Benefit, Welger 8063 typical
  • Chasers Transtacker, Williams stack shifter and Williams bale chaser
  • Workload 120x90s – 55,000-60,000 bales/12 months, 120x70s – 10,000-15,000 bales/12 months
  • Employees Peter and Paul Williams, Harry, Denzel and Max Baird plus as much as 14 others in peak season

A giant benefit of this setup is in utilizing a loader to construct the stack with the bales crossed, which ties the entire pack collectively – a necessity on the steeply rolling floor throughout the southern fringe of Salisbury Plain.

“After we began out with the baling enterprise we tried plenty of totally different bale chasers. They labored nicely in clearing fields however, as a result of the bales weren’t crossed, the stacks tended to fall over.”

This prompted Mr Williams to begin fascinated about designing his personal chaser able to forming stacks with bales in every layer operating perpendicular to these above and beneath.

Bale chaser axles

Air-bag suspension gives top management, whereas low rear mattress pivots give the tip rams with most leverage when hoisting 14 bales upright © Nick Fone

Quick-forward six years and the end result emerged from the farm workshop halfway by this harvest for some preliminary subject testing.

“We had spent many hours making an attempt to make sure that the chaser was able to be trialled this season.

“Unbelievably, we hitched it up, ran by the hydraulic cycles just a few occasions, tweaked just a few sensor positions and went selecting up bales.

“From the off it carried out as we’d hoped, so we carried on and shifted greater than 700 bales, clearing them at a fee of about 80/hour.

“That’s not as fast as we’d like, but it surely was a superb begin given all of the setbacks we’d had within the design and construct phases.”

Bale chaser joystick

Buttons on the digital management stick deal with every hydraulic perform © Nick Fone

Why construct you personal?

“In addition to having a machine that might cross the bales, we would have liked a chaser that would deal with a spread of various sizes and weights.

“My authentic stacker trailer is able to reliably shifting greater than 1,000 bales/day, so it shaped the idea of the thought.

“Initially we began out drawing sketches on the concrete with chalk, but it surely rapidly turned obvious that we would want one thing a bit extra refined than that.

“So, I went to PC World, purchased a CAD [computer-aided design] drawing software program bundle and set about instructing myself learn how to use it.”

With the assistance of retired engineer Tim Stangle, a design started to take form.

“I needed to begin from the bottom up, slightly than utilizing an outdated lorry chassis and placing it collectively on the hoof.

“And because it’s way more complicated than the outdated stacker, it made sense to make use of CAD to work out all of the angles, ram lengths and suchlike earlier than firing up the welder.

“That meant I might get the steel precision-cut previous to assembling something.”

Bale chaser levers

Along with digital actuators, the valve chest has old school levers to allow the chaser to be operated from the bottom for testing functions © Nick Fone

Operating gear and chassis

Air suspension gives the pliability to keep up journey top, regardless of the load carried, and a pair of high-speed Granning axles have been sourced full with full-spec business air brakes and 560mm-wide flotation tyres.

“I’d discovered from earlier than that one of many vital issues was to have the principle tipping mattress pivot as low in the back of the chassis as potential.

“That meant we might give the tip rams most leverage when elevating the stack upright.

“That’s important given the weights we’re coping with. Bales popping out of our eight-string Krone BigPack 1290 can tip the scales at practically 700kg. With 12 of them in a stack it quickly provides as much as a good load.”

Bale chase and stack of bales

With every layer of bales operating in a unique course the six- or seven-high stacks are a lot much less inclined to fall over on sloping floor © Nick Fone

Entrance finish

The pick-up head on the enterprise finish of the machine took quite a lot of cautious thought.

In addition to having the ability to hoist pairs of bales up onto the load mattress, it wanted to be able to rotating them by 90deg so that each layer crossed its neighbour.

Outfitted with curved tines, pairs of grab-like jaws mounted on a sq. body chew into every bale – the primary being carried to the second, earlier than they’re each lifted and flipped over onto the mattress. 

It’s a posh setup that makes use of a mix of solenoid-operated and mechanical sequence valves.

Carrying such weight places a substantial amount of pressure on all of the parts, with the raise arc producing enormous leverage forces.

To beat this, an over-centre valve slows the move of oil to cease the bales hitting the mattress with a bang, and a pair of rams, piped to gas-filled accumulators, cushion the pivoting body because it reaches the top of its journey.

Tipping physique

Very like another bale chaser, pairs of gates on both aspect of the physique are used to information and safe bales into place.

A centre spike operating on rollers in a channel down the center of the deck gives resistance, due to a hydraulic reduction valve, guaranteeing the stack is saved tightly packed collectively whereas the pick-up head pushes the bales alongside the physique.

This course of is aided by pairs of one-way star-wheels on the entrance body of the gates.

Utilizing easy sprag-clutch bearings, they grip to make sure the bales can’t journey forwards because the chaser bumps throughout stubbles and over tramlines.

Together with pincer jaws in the back of the deck, the gates clamp up as soon as the chaser is full, holding the pack securely for transport and as it’s raised upright on the stack.

Their vice-like grip is launched earlier than the motive force units again off to the sphere to assemble one other pack.

One distinctive function of the chaser is its bale-ejector system.

Designed to cope with part-loads, 12 pairs of wedges are set in channels operating the size of the mattress.

A protracted-stroke ram shunts them backwards and forwards as an ejector would in a giant sq. baler, propelling the half stack to the again of the deck.

When the physique then suggestions there isn’t any thump as gravity takes over.

Technical tip

Anybody who’s into constructing their very own package is certain to return up towards the odd hydraulic hiccup.

To make the entire job of calculating move charges, pressures, ram bores and strokes simpler there are a selection of smartphone apps out there.

Peter Williams makes use of the free Hydraulic Cylinder Calculator to work out required ram sizes and so forth.


The chaser has a reasonably intelligent management association to handle the 10 or so hydraulic features.

With totally different operations going down concurrently, a load-sensing Energy Past feed is required from the tractor to offer oil move for a six-slice Danfoss valve block.

In addition to solenoid actuators, it additionally has guide lever controls to allow it to be operated from the bottom.

The sophisticated stuff is dealt with by an digital management unit and fuseboard, with a rash of proximity sensors everywhere in the machine telling the pc controller the precise place of every transferring half.

An digital joystick within the cab completes the management setup, and the whole thing is linked collectively through a Canbus community to restrict the variety of cables wanted to make the whole lot work.

With the assistance of freelance management methods engineer Tom Bradbury, Mr Williams drew up a complete define of the varied sequences required.

A 3rd-party programmer was then used to place collectively a software program bundle that might run the machine, guaranteeing that the varied features labored with none bits of heavy steel clashing within the varied hydraulic cycles required.

For instance, the pc controller is not going to enable the pick-up head to rotate till it has lifted away from the tractor mudguard top, hopefully avoiding costly insurance coverage claims.


There are inevitable pitfalls that come to mild when constructing any machine, and Peter Williams has had his fair proportion. Listed below are a few of them:

  1. Centre-spike Initially operating the size of the physique on plastic wear-pads, the centre-spike would judder because it travelled up and down its channel. A change to rollers did away with the difficulty and led Mr Williams to make use of the identical method for the sliding part of the pick-up head the place it travels forwards and again to propel bales down the load deck.
  2. Seize Regardless of complete CAD simulations and hydraulic calculations, the primary pick-up head was unable to correctly grip and maintain heavy bales. The issue was that the tines weren’t burying themselves deep sufficient. Longer stroke rams solved the issue.
  3. Head-tilt Because the cleverly designed pick-up head pivot linkage reached the top of its journey – the purpose of most leverage – the massive forces exerted on it will make it flop over with a thud. An uprated ram was required however, annoyingly, it needed to be specifically made to suit the present clevis pivots.
  4. Stabiliser wheel Accountable for carrying the lion’s share of the burden of the pick-up head, the offset stabiliser wheel will get a good bit of grief and it was clear after an preliminary run that the tyre wasn’t going to face the check of time. Foam-filling it solved the difficulty.
  5. Drawbar The unique swinging drawbar used to set the chaser out in an offset place was created from heavy box-section sandwiched between plates of thick sheet metal, however the rounded-profile corners of the field would catch and judder. This created friction and warmth, pitting the steel and making the issue worse. In response, Mr Williams made up a whole new drawbar with back-to-back channel and flat plate metal operating between nylon wear-pads.

What’s subsequent?

This season’s transient check runs with the chaser proved the idea labored however, inevitably, tweaks are wanted to refine its operation.

“Though we have been operating bales in at a fee of 80/hour, I’d prefer to suppose we might get nearer to 120,” says Mr Williams.

“It’s usually hydraulic cycle velocity that’s slowing issues down. On a easy degree I feel swapping the half-inch pipework for three-quarter-inch will make a distinction, however there are particular key bottlenecks that want coping with.

“The primary head push-back ram is a big-bore, long-stroke cylinder that attracts quite a lot of oil and takes eight seconds to finish its cycle.

“We have to discover a manner of rushing that up, probably by changing the management valves with ones that don’t prohibit move as a lot.”

The opposite situation slowing work-rates is that the present controls require enter from the operator to immediate every part of the loading cycle.

The subsequent growth will see the management software program up to date to automate the method, inevitably requiring extra sensors to be added, notably in and across the entrance bale-bumper.

And adapting the mattress’s centre spike to fold again flush with the load deck would make it potential to make use of the chaser to select up full stacks to ferry them again to HQ as soon as fields are cleared.

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