READER: When cutting hay with a sickle cutter, whether it's a sickle bar like a New Holland 451 or Haybine 1465 with a reel, we have a problem with hay building up on the end of the sickle. This causes the end of the machine to drag down some of the uncut standing hay, leaving a small streak of uncut hay. We like to use the sickle cutter on alfalfa because it seems to allow the hay to recover quicker than with a disc cutter. What can we do to eliminate the hay building up on the end of the sickle bars?
STEVE: It's well-known that the shear cut of a sickle cutter is cleaner than an impact cut of a disc cutter, especially if the blades on the disc cutter are not sharp. But, yes, in certain crops, the sickle likes to drag up on the end.
There are a few things to help with this problem. The first thing you can do is make sure the sickle sections are sharp. The next thing is to check and make sure the ledger plates near the end are sharp (including the fixed one on the outer casting). Another area that needs to be checked is the special hold-down clip on the end, which is shimmed to allow only slight clearance between it and the sections near the end. But, to assure a clean end on the bars, install a "triplet" as the last section on the sickle (see accompanying photo). They are available at most hay mower suppliers and will rivet or bolt to your existing holes in the sickle.
-- Write Steve Thompson at Ask The Mechanic, 2204 Lakeshore Dr., Suite 415, Birmingham, AL 35209, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and be sure to include your phone number.
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