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Bale spear fail! Advice?

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  • Bale spear fail! Advice?

    First attempt with the new bale spear this weekend was a bust. We knew going in that our 35hp tractor was not big enough to lift/stack the big round bales. Decided the extra cost wasn't worth it when we considered the HP that'd be needed, and the low frequency of the task (with just 2 horses, we move a roundbale maybe 8-10 times a year).

    My work-around was to build a sled that slides very easily along the ground. Before my Glorious Tractor Ownership Era , I'd position the sled in front of the bale (which is stored on the round), and using well-placed tow straps and our SUV, I can tip the bale onto its end, on the sled. This works, but I was (am!) hoping the tractor would let me place the haybale onto the sled with a little more precision. To do that, I just need to lift it about 2" off the ground.

    The hay: Big 5x6' round, all grass. The worst-case charts say a bale like this just out of the field, would be about 1700lb. And this is last year's hay, stored under roof, so it's very dry. I highly doubt we're more than 1500# now.

    The tractor: 35hp, max capacity 1800# at rear PTO hitch, where we have a 49" bale spear with 2 shorter stabilizer spears.

    Now, I know that lift capacity goes down with every inch that you add between hitch and the center of gravity of your load, but sheesh, I couldn't get the bale off the ground at all. With the rear PTO hitch fully lifted, the bale was still in solid contact with the ground, so when I moved the tractor forward, the bale stayed put while the spears just slid out of the bale. It's not like I was popping a wheelie-- my front end was still on the ground (though certainly a bit bouncy, not unexpected. I can add some ballast to the FEL to reduce that).

    I'm wondering if it's just a height issue-- my PTO arms can't be raised high enough off the ground to counteract the natural tendency of the bale to deform/sag a bit as it's lifted. They're net wrapped and baled tight, but still, it's not like it's a rigid cylinder. I could get more vertical lift at the FEL, but weight capacity is even lower up front than at the PTO.

    If any more experienced folks see something obvious I'm doing wrong in the above, let me know. Bit of a bummer that it didn't work at ALL, but I still have my Tip-and-Drag method which works ok.

  • #2
    Maybe you can use the tractor to tip and drag instead of your SUV? I am afraid it is just too heavy a bale for what you have.

    You could also just get a rope/ chain around the bale and use the tractor to pull it where you want it. A barn I worked at did that all the time.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Yes, the tractor will be the tow vehicle. The SUV was fine on dry ground, but if we had sustained snowcover, we'd enlist a neighbor with a big tractor to bring down a bale. So now we should be self-sufficient in all weather, which is great.
      And no matter what, the sled stays in the equation --it's a huge improvement over dragging directly the ground. Requires much less force, and keeps it from getting caked in dirt.

      So, what we're doing is "good enough" I guess. I'm just a bit surprised I couldn't lift it at all, and thought I'd see if there's something obvious I was doing.

      Comment


      • #4
        Have you considered something like these, that have wheels, so you don't have to lift them?

        https://www.sidebysidestuff.com/fiel...CABEgKfCfD_BwE

        They come in different sizes, lighter for smaller round bales, heavier made for big ones and to go down the highways, is what most here use for just one bale.

        Comment


        • #5
          We have the bale spear on the FEL not on the back of the tractor
          It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

          Comment


          • #6
            I wonder if you're not getting it off the ground not because of the weight but because of the compressibility of the bale. You pick it up, it kind of...unsquishes...and so still drags on the ground?

            Not sure if there's an answer if that's the case, though. Maybe you can strap it with a couple/few ratchet straps all the way around, to compress it further, before you try to pick it up?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by SuzieQNutter View Post
              We have the bale spear on the FEL not on the back of the tractor
              We use pallet forks for our big bales, but have a larger tractor than 35 hp.

              Generally hp of a tractor is best and measured at drawbar height.
              Three point hitch has the most power after that, at the end of an FEL the least of all.

              OP could always bump the bale onto the sled, most anything can do that.

              Comment


              • #8
                I just asked hubby, he said it is not the horse power. It is the size and weight of the tractor. If we had a 35 hp tractor he would have the bale on the front of the tractor but he would have a counterweight on the back of the tractor.

                All our bigger tractors have water in the wheels to get the weight to the ground. We do have a 25 hp tractor but we use Davey for moving round bales and he is a 65 hp tractor.

                Hubby also asked when you try to lift it do you hear a buzzing sound? If so you have reached maximum lifting capacity and this is a safety relief valve to stop you lifting too heavy a weight. He said if you cannot hear a buzzer, the hydraulics are not working and are not lifting what they should.

                Also why don't you buy the smaller round bales?

                You buy a tractor that what you want to do is the minimum it can lift, not the maximum.
                It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by SuzieQNutter View Post
                  I just asked hubby, he said it is not the horse power. It is the size and weight of the tractor. If we had a 35 hp tractor he would have the bale on the front of the tractor but he would have a counterweight on the back of the tractor.

                  All our bigger tractors have water in the wheels to get the weight to the ground. We do have a 25 hp tractor but we use Davey for moving round bales and he is a 65 hp tractor.

                  Hubby also asked when you try to lift it do you hear a buzzing sound? If so you have reached maximum lifting capacity and this is a safety relief valve to stop you lifting too heavy a weight. He said if you cannot hear a buzzer, the hydraulics are not working and are not lifting what they should.

                  Also why don't you buy the smaller round bales?

                  You buy a tractor that what you want to do is the minimum it can lift, not the maximum.
                  Also if you try lifting more than the tractor is engineered for, an axle may break.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    As you have a bigger tractor I would use that one instead.
                    It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      To clarify: I'd spear the bale with the PTO arms at the lowest point, and then I take it to its highest point of travel. And the bale did lift. But not enough, to where it was suspended completely off the ground. There was still enough ground contact that it just pulls itself off the spear if I tried to drive off. SuzieQNutter Thanks for the tip about the buzzing-- there was none, so that reassures that I hadn't exceeded capacity. I think it's just a frame size limitation.

                      We don't have a larger tractor-- this 35hp one is it. Its capabilities, size, etc are a perfect fit for the tasks on our farm, except the round bales. This was a deliberate choice, one that we made after ranking our priorities and considering the tradeoffs. The larger frame size when you go to 50hp was significant and a disadvantage for many of the chores we will be doing with it. Moving bales is something we do 8-10 times a year, and takes about 20 minutes each time. We already have a reasonable workaround-- not great but functional--so we decided it wasn't worth it. For us. YMMV.
                      Before I get a million "you got what you asked for, stop complaining!" My query should not be interpreted as me complaining about that choice. Simply looking to broaden my knowledge on a complex implement, and develop good judgment on its limits.

                      Agree with Bluey that putting the spear out in front of the FEL would be a drastic reduction in lift capacity, vs where we have it on the PTO. I do have some bucket-mounted forks that might be good enough to just nudge it around, with the backhoe attached as ballast. Something to try, anyway. Maybe next year if I'm feeling flush, I'll buy a quick-attach forklift frame (i.e. take the bucket off). That would probably do the trick.

                      Bale size: Up here in Iowa, farmers prefer the very large rounds -- much less waste. They all have 75+ hp machines as their daily drivers, so the weight and dimensions are not an issue for them. We sharecrop our hayfields-- hay guy does all the work and gets half the hay, and he stacks my half in a one of our outbuildings near the hayfields. While a small bale would be easier for me to handle, it's a tradeoff I'm willing to accept given that my hay is free and good quality, made with care (i.e., I'm not last on his list of fields), and he's a nice guy to have on the farm.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Any chance you can offload the bale onto a pallet, and get low enough to pick up the pallet, instead of the bale?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          What he meant by the buzzer not going off so the hydraulics are not working as they should, he meant get it fixed.

                          Remember he only has experience with Tractors in Australia, but they are probably built overseas. I know our Valtra tractor was.
                          It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                            Any chance you can offload the bale onto a pallet, and get low enough to pick up the pallet, instead of the bale?
                            Well, not for the current year's hay that's already on the ground. But we could consider putting the bales up on pallets this season, so they're palletized from the start. Possible that by having them 4" off the ground from the get-go, the spear would then have a shot at holding them off the "real" ground. Will give it some thought. Will have to consider the "hassle factor" associated with pallets, TBH --laying them all out as you put up bales, and picking them up as you work through the bales, and discarding the broken ones.

                            Good idea, will mull it over.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Having used both the PTO spear, a PTO "cradle", and an FEL bale spear I've always found the FEL approach more manageable. In theory the PTO spear can lift more; in reality is sometimes can't because of the same round bale behaviors on the spear that HH is seeing.

                              So, make the bales smaller so that the FEL can handle them. Keep them off the ground, as you are planning, so that they don't soak up moisture (which, if you already are working at the low end of capacity, would be a Very Bad Thing). DO NOT overload the tractor!!! First, that can get real expensive, real fast. Second, it can cause catastrophic accidents even on hard, level ground.

                              Since you can't "raise the bridge" (the tractor you have is the tractor you have) you will have to "lower the water" by making the round bales easier to handle. Make them smaller and tighter so that they move more easily.

                              Good luck as you go forward.

                              G.
                              Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                We just bought a 50HP tractor to do that exact task. I refused to buy a tractor until we could afford one that would move 1400 lb bales easily. The bales we get are netted tightly but they definitely do sag when they get picked up off ground.

                                We bought quick attach pallet forks as part of the package. There is no chance in hell I would be comfortable moving a bale that size with forks attached to bucket.

                                It sounds like height is more your limiting factor than anything and pallet forks on front would get around that. That said, you would be at the max capacity for your tractor. You’re not lifting up very high but definitely would want to have some counterweight on back.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  HungarianHippo we had these HUGE SOLID pallets from the small tractor/snow toys/etc store. They were 4x6, and made of solid 2 by oak lumber. They'd be great for this sort of use, if you do decide to try the pallet approach. Light enough for one person to move (with some effort), but not going to snap under weight like standard pallets.

                                  Can you set up your spear to pick up the pallet itself, instead of the going through the bale? Like using it as a pallet fork. You'd avoid the squish factor that way.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I have two suggestions...

                                    Does your tractor have different positions to attach the 3 point's center (top link) ? A lower attachment point will raise the spear higher, if you do. Also shorten the top link as much as possible, it will increase the max height. Does your tractor have "draft control" ? If so turn it off, it may be limiting your 3 point lift since you're at maximum weight.

                                    There is an attachment called a scissor lift. The downside is your tractor's maximum lift. It moves the weight further away. (There is no free lunch)
                                    Equus makus brokus but happy

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      This may help; https://www.haytalk.com/forums/topic...ounting-angle/
                                      ... _. ._ .._. .._

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        If your issue is ONLY that the bale does not stay on the spear, you could put a cargo strap around the bale once it is on the spear, and crank that tight to hold it on the spear. Find something solid to attach the hooks on to. My little tractor is a 35 horse too, and there is NO WAY it could lift a 1500 lb round bale. It lifts small rounds (600 lbs) no problem, in the front bucket, with a cargo strap instead of a spear. I have no experience using a rear lift option like what you have. But if your tractor CAN lift this just a bit, enough for you to shift it as you want to (without damaging the tractor- which I find "unlikely"), a cargo strap will stop it from sliding off the spike as you move, I think. Get GOOD cargo straps, Costco has them.

                                        Next time, ask your share cropping farmer to make smaller bales for you! It will take a bit more time, and a bit more twine, but better than breaking your tractor by over loading it. Because that is a REALLY expensive outcome.
                                        www.cordovafarm.weebly.com

                                        Comment

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