Ask The Mechanic

Loose Knot Mystery

Image by Steve Thompson

Q: I have a New Holland 315 twine baler that I bought from a friend. He told me that it came right out of the field. But, he failed to tell me why it came right out of the field. Seems it has a tying problem on the right knotter. The problem (really my problem now) is that it will make a knot that looks OK. However, as the bale comes out, and the twine tightens, the knot won’t hold. Sometimes, the knot will fool me by holding until I pick up the bale--then it breaks. Even better, sometimes, the bale makes the ride to the barn, but when it’s picked up to be stacked, the knot breaks.

Trail Of Repairs. The first place I took it for repair told me I needed a new billhook. They installed it with the result being absolutely no change in the baler’s performance.

The next place, they told me the “worm” gear that drives the disc was worn. I don’t know much about “worm” gears, but I do know that it did not fix my problem.

The last place that I took it, they told me the groove in the needle was worn, and it was not letting the twine slip through easily enough. New needle. No change.

Thank goodness for a neighbor who has a baler that will tie a good knot on both sides. Can you help me keep from collecting any more twine from “busted bales”? By the way, I have some used twine on my place if anyone needs some.

A: I will spend some time on this twine baler adjustment because so many other manufacturers use similar knotters that are adjusted the same way. Since so many new parts have been replaced, that tells me they overlooked one problem: the one you are having.

When the billhook has completed the knot, the twine arm comes across in a flash and must strip the twine off the billhook, and cut the twine. Here, I am betting, is your problem.

As the knife comes across to cut the twine, the end of the billhook cannot touch the knife as it comes across. If it does, the knife on the blade will cut deeply into the knot, causing it to fail. The twine arm travels fast and makes very quick starts and stops, causing wear in the casting where it pivots when activated by the needle lift shaft cam (grease them often). As the pivot point of the twine arm wears, the blade moves closer to the billhook.

Knife’s Edge. New Holland makes a selection of shims to install under the cotter pin that secures the twine arm. You can verify if the twine arm is the problem by raising the knotter very slowly and watching how close the knife comes to the end of the billhook.

After you have shimmed the twine arm, look again at the clearance. If the knife is off the end of the billhook, this will fix your problem. If it is still too close, you will need to actually bend the twine arm (it is made to be bent) so that it easily clears the billhook.

Once you make this adjustment, check and make sure the twine arm scraper is still centered and scrapes the bottom of the billhook when it passes to knock off the knot.

Of course, there are many other adjustments on the knotter, but if you have a good knot before the pressure hits it, the knife adjustment will usually fix the problem.

I bet if you go to some of that twine hanging around your place and take apart the bad knot, you will see that the twine was actually cut deeply inside the knot. I hope you kept your old parts. You might be able to use them some day.

Editor’s Note: The reader reports the knife adjustment repair did indeed fix his baler.Q: I had to put water in the back tires of my Ford 1715 tractor because the tiller was pushing me around. The water really helped, but I am wondering if the water will freeze, even though it has 15 pounds of air pressure in the tire.

A: Yes, the water will freeze if it gets cold enough for long enough. You can easily ruin the tires/tubes if you move the tractor when the ice is broken into slivers. If the water is frozen solid, then your tractor will act like a Globetrotter’s basketball rolling across the floor. Pressure on water will raise the boiling point, but pressure on water has little effect on lowering the freezing point.

Safety Tip of the Month:

Grinding disks on handheld grinders sometimes break apart during use without any warning. When they explode, the pieces scatter everywhere at a very high rate of speed.

Gloves and a full face shield are great protection for the most vulnerably exposed areas of your body. I always try to wear my welding gloves and full face shield when grinding. I have witnessed what bare skin looks like after a shattered grinding wheel runs across it, and it’s a serious wound.

Write Steve Thompson at Ask The Mechanic, 2204 Lakeshore Dr., Suite 415, Birmingham, AL 35209, or email


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