In The Shop: Bean Platform Prep

Published on: 20:11PM Sep 03, 2019

Lots of questions lately about prepping bean platforms for harvest. Here are a few points to always check before heading to the field to harvest soybeans or small grains.

Replace any sickle sections (aka, knife sections) that won't snag a leather glove when it's dragged along the cutting edge. Ditto for knife guards that don't have a relatively square, sharp lower edge that the sickle sections slide back and forth across. Harvesting with dull knife sections, combined with rounded edges on the guards, is like trying to cut paper with a pair of dull scissors. Not only does it take more power, and work the wobble box and cutterbar drive harder, but there's more grain loss from shattering when the knife has to gnaw its way through each stem rather than slicing quick and clean.

Check all the plastic/poly skid guards on the bottom of the platform. Worn spots that expose metal will drag dirt and debris sooner. Worn spots also often have ragged edges that catch and drag dirt. Don't forget to check the poly on the bottom of divider snouts, and on the bottom of the gearbox cover.

Sight down the length of the cutterbar and look for areas that are noticeably higher than the rest of the cutterbar. Some platforms are designed to droop in the middle when the header is off the ground. Others are designed to stay relatively straight from side to side. Either way, any area of the cutterbar that is more than 1" higher than the rest suggests there is either a bent support beneath that area, or that the cutterbar itself is bent at that point. "Humps" in the cutterbar may not affect cutting when it is pressed against the ground in field conditions, but....they may cause enough binding to hinder the way automatic header height control sensors work, especially when combining under damp conditions.

Raise and lower the reel and make sure it is parallel to the ground from side to side.  Run it all the way forward and then all the way back and make sure it stays parallel to the cross auger. With two-piece reels, check to make sure both sides raise evenly and run "true" to each other. Inconsistency in reel height, fore/aft or other issues may be nothing more than air in the system that can be purged by fully extending and retracting the cylinders. Or, it can be a symptom of a leaky cylinder or control valve. Try purging the system in question by fully cycling the cylinders before panicking.