Used trailed mower
conditioners can be a
cheap source of cutting
performance. Here, Chris
Willner of Rea Valley
Geoff Ashcroft around a
two-year-old John Deere
JOHN Deere introduced its 3m-wide 1360 trailed mower conditioner in 1989 to compete in an expanding sector aimed at high mowing and conditioning productivity to match the demands of larger forage harvesters.
That the latest incarnation -the 1365 introduced in 2000 – is virtually the same basic machine with a few cosmetic changes and only slightly revised components says much about the longevity and the strength of the original late 1980s design. Even the same two-blade per disc, six-disc cutterbar remains. And since going on sale, Deere has sold thousands of 1360s in the UK, so there should be plenty to choose from.
Some models came with the optional Grouper swathing attachment and later 1360s could be specified with a linkage-mounted drawbar (now standard on 1365s) instead of a clevis hitch.
For the second-hand buyer, the JD1360 or newer 1365 for those with a larger budget, remains a simple, straightforward mower conditioner. Our example, a 2000 model-year 1365 which has covered two seasons in the hands of a dairy farmer, is in good working order and should fetch between £7000 and £8000 after being tidied up in the workshop, according to Rea Valley Tractors. And given the large numbers in which the 1360 sold, early models can now be found for as little as £1000.
"Unlike a tractor, theres no way of telling just how much work a mower has done, which makes a thorough inspection all the more worthwhile," explains Chris Willner, service director with Rea Valley. "It could be a clean and tidy looking machine that has been worked very hard or a much more neglected model that might have only mown a thousand acres."
Starting at the drawbar, a quick look at the pto shaft can reveal much about the life of the machine. "Battered guards are just the start of it," he says. "Pull the shafts apart and look for scoring inside. If not regularly greased, the shafts can lock together under load. And they inflict damage when the tractor makes headland turns if they wont slide."
A seized shaft can cause the front bearing casting to split, which means £123.21 for a replacement with a new bearing. Pto tubes can be replaced without needing to buy new yokes, but a matched pair will set you back £169.06 and new powershield guards add a further £137 to the bill.
Once past the pto shaft, key items to check while working through the mower include the main bevel gearbox, the six-disc cutterbed and the conditioner.
"The drawbar and main frame are very strong, though a quick look over will reveal any cracking that might need attention from the welder," says Mr Willner. "And all bearings throughout the machine are sealed and cant be greased – you just need to try and rock bearings using a lever to check for excessive wear. Only pto joints and axle pivots need to see the grease gun."
"The gearbox oil level plug is easy to remove to inspect the level and check the colour of the oil. It should be full, and clean," he adds. "Be wary of black oil and any leakage."
From the gearbox, drive is split into two – a vertical output shaft drops the drive into the cutterbed, while a side output shaft carries a triple V belt to power the conditioner rotor. A single bolt removes the guard covering the belt allowing a thorough visual check to be made. Any splits or excessive cracking could mean a replacement might soon be needed at a cost of £91.73.
Deeres conditioner on the 1360 and 1365 is a single rotor design carrying free-swinging V-shaped steel tines. All tines should be in place and not broken. Replacement tines cost £9.30 each, with retaining pins, if needed, adding £4.25 to the cost of each tine. While looking at tines, check the hood for excessive damage, which might indicate prolonged use in stony conditions.
"The drive shaft from the gearbox down to the bed contains two rubber donuts which cushion shock loads," says Mr Willner. "The play in this driveline needs checking by rocking the first disc to and fro to establish whether or not these donuts are broken or possibly perished."
From then on, potential purchasers need to make a thorough check of the mowerûs bed, looking for signs of abuse or damage from obstacles that might have been buried in the grass. As a guide, cutting discs should align at 90 degrees to each other and not rock, which might indicate excessive bearing or gear wear. Blade condition should not give cause for concern – a full set of 12 blades only costs £7.44.
"If theres no alarm bells ringing at this stage, it would be a prudent buyer who changes the cutterbed oil after buying the machine. It only holds two litres," he says.
Beneath the bed, wear skids are fitted. The outer skids are height-adjustable and alter the blade pitch. While these take most wear and are relatively slow-wearing items provided the bed pressure has been correctly adjusted on the mowers balance springs. However, if they are worn through, they will set you back £50.34 each. The two-piece skids used across the rest of the bed cost £48.54 each. *
This two-year-old example of a JD1365 could fetch up to £8000 after being tidied up.
Pto shafts and guards are often abused – if sliding shafts have not been greased properly, the torque loading can lead to broken bearing castings.
Main gearbox provides output for triple V belt, used to drive the conditioning rotor. If it needs replacing, expect to pay £91.73.
Inspection of the combined slip/overrun clutch requires the guard to be removed.
Some late model 1360s came with a three-point linkage drawbar. Its now standard equipment on the current 1365 model.
At £7.44 for a full set of blades, thereûs no excuse for not changing them regularly. Rock the cutting discs to check for bed wear and inspect conditioning rotor for missing tines.
Chris Willner, service director for Rea Valley Tractors.