13 March 1998

Take your pick of the

spreaders

Flail muck spreaders continue to retain a significant portion

of the muck spreader market. For those looking to purchase

a new model, we provide this buyers guide

YOU cant get much simpler than a rotary flail spreader when it comes to shifting manure and slurry from yard to field.

Relatively lightweight for what they will carry, a basic chain and sprocket pto drive, and a tube with flails to dispense the load, add up to low running costs, little in the way of servicing, and modest tractor power requirement.

The fact that there is nothing much to go wrong also means the flail spreader is a reliable little performer that does not need a great deal of attention. What it does demand is a little thought when loading and timely adjustment of the flail chains.

Few operators will not have experienced that moment when they sit at the end of the field, tractor revving and rotor whirling with nothing but the odd smattering of muck to show for all the effort.

They soon learn to pile up the middle of the machine if they are to get maximum capacity, but to keep the barrel ends reasonably clear. That way, at least a couple of flails either end can be set loose to start eating their way into the load.

As for flail chain adjustment – well, that slight knocking noise is the first give-away that the flail heads are making contact with the barrel. Its all down to chain link wear and slight stretching induced by the high-speed centrifugal forces. Leave them as they are, and the flails will eventually eat their way through the barrel as well as the load.

Most machines follow the familiar standard pattern in which case making comparisons is down to the thickness of steel used, the way bearings are mounted, and what form the chassis takes.

Apart from one of the smallest spreaders, most manufacturers opt for 5mm steel for the rolled or folded barrel with 6mm end sections, though Redrock claims extra strength from using 6mm throughout. Also, look for heavy-duty chain options in place of the standard items if the spreader is going to have a tough life.

Rotor bearings should ideally be mounted away from the end panels rather than bolted directly to minimise contamination with corrosive slurry, while drive sprockets need to be on robust mountings and easily adjusted to take up slack in the drive chain.

Hi-Specs solution on its 1200 Contractor Side Slinger, is to use a spring-loaded drive chain tensioning block, with the front bearing carried on a box-section frame beyond the drive sprocket. Central greasing and an auto-lube system is another feature of this spreader.

All flail spreaders are of all-welded construction these days, with either a bolt-on or welded chassis of A-frame or single beam construction. Tullow adds large fillets between chassis and barrel for extra strength, with the added benefit of preventing manure from lodging on chassis members.

Wheel and tyre equipment differs to some extent, though usually there is a choice of optional sizes if operators want to guard against excessive soil compaction. Wide and relatively large diameter implement tyres will do the trick, though on larger machines, tandem axles (usually with leaf spring suspension to follow ground contours and give a smoother ride on the road) is often a better option.

As the specification tables show, tandem axle undercarriage is mostly offered on the biggest one or two models in a range, though Marston extends this almost across the range for its AS, Griffiths and Salop-branded machines, as does Agco on its Marston-built Massey Ferguson models.

As far as the mainstream spreaders are concerned, then, its in the details that differences are mostly found. For such a simple device, however, there are some innovative ideas for making the most of this proven spreading mechanism.

Marshalls partitioned large capacity barrel, for example, speeds up the distribution process by creating four "ends" from which spreading starts. Its available on the companys 8 and 11.8cu m (10.5 and 15.5cu yd) models.

KB Designs Bigmuk has an expanding barrel which gives a lot more capacity without increasing the power requirement of the machine. Originally developed for high output working with contractors, the manufacturer now produces smaller versions aimed at farm users.

Hillams novel rotating barrel spreader also gives more capacity, size-for-size, than a conventional flail machine, especially for slurry. But it also adds the convenience of loading from either side which, in some yard layouts, is a handy facility.

Fraser achieves the same either-side loading feature with its fixed barrel spreader by having an optional lid that can be opened in either direction.

And for extra utilisation of these spreaders, especially where they are used for set-piece spreading work rather than year-round, Frasers Muck-Master, the Marshall Rotary Muck Spreader and KB Designs Bigmuk can be kitted out with feeder hoods to dispense silage to feed barriers. &#42

Partitioned barrel on Marshalls larger spreaders speeds up emptying.

Tandem axles and large tyres spread the load on Frasers larger models.

Economical Teagle Tornado still has hydraulic lid as standard.

Slurry anti-splash plate on Marstons spreader should help keep the tractor a bit cleaner.

KBs Bigmuk has an expanding barrel giving more capacity without increasing pto power demand.

Redrock uses 6mm steel plate for barrel and end plates.

Fill-in plates between the barrel and chassis on the Tullow spreader add strength.