A decade ago, grain bin manufacturers were reporting 3,500-bushel, hopper-bottom bins as the most common on-farm storage units demanded by farmers. Today, however, things are very different; bins with capacities of 10,000 bushels or more have become hot sellers.
Filling these giants at harvest requires big augers with performance to match. Buyers also want augers that fit into tight places and can be moved easily by only one person. Calling that a tall order is an understatement.
One manufacturer currently offering augers capable of meeting those requirements is Farm King. The company’s “Backsaver” line offers the greatest lengths and highest capacities of all its available models.
Backsaver augers equipped with swing-away hoppers are available in 10-, 13-and 16-inch diameters. Those high-capacity sizes are becoming the norm in the industry. Pressure to keep harvest operations going during good weather is driving demand. The quicker a truck can unload and return to the field, the less likely a full combine will sit waiting.
Farm King’s 10-inch models are available in lengths from 50 to 80 feet, while the 13-inch designs stretch from 70 to 95 feet. But for maximum reach and capacity, the 16104 has a 104-foot length with 16-inch diameter. That puts it at the head of the pack. This giant can clear more than 77 feet at the spout, and reach 36 feet from the wheels. If you plan to use very large bins, this is the auger you’ll need to fill them.
“A comment I keep hearing from customers is ‘it sure moves a lot of grain’,” says Lorne Enns, Farm King’s sales manager. “It’s the largest on the market.”
Moving large augers from place to place isn’t always the easiest chore. Some are difficult to transport, and that’s a problem. If you have to shut down the combine and get everyone together just to relocate an auger, that eats into harvest productivity. So it isn’t only the discharge rate of an auger you need to consider; it’s the overall design.
Farm King’s 16104 is one auger that doesn’t require a team of helpers to move. Even though it has a very long reach, it folds down far enough to offer 14′ 10″ of clearance in transport position. And with a wheel track width of 14′ 5″, it’s stable and easy to move, even on secondary roads.
The 16104 feeds from a 48″ x 60″ inlet hopper, which makes it easier for drivers to line up a truck for unloading. That’s a significant timesaver. When a driver has to keep up to multiple combines or travel long distances to unload, saving even small slugs of time can make a big difference.
But the larger the inlet hopper, the more difficult it is to swing in and out of position. Being able to move a hopper mechanically isn’t a luxury. Reaching and straining to do the job manually can take its toll on a driver at the end of a long day.
A 16104 operator can use two hydraulic motors to position the inlet hopper by just moving a lever while staying well away from moving parts. A hydraulic winch is also available on the 10″ and 13″ models to lift the hopper into transport position. That further reduces the likelihood of workplace strains.
When changing to a different crop or at end-of-season clean-out, some augers are difficult to fully empty. That can lead to grain mixing in the auger’s next use. But Farm King Backsavers have an optional reverse kit and underside access panel, which makes clean-out a breeze.
Aside from being easy to use, augers have to be durable. Their most common problem is bearing failure. To address that, Farm King augers have a tapered thrust bearing at the top. Torqued to reduce pressure on the bottom-end bearing, it distributes the load equally and maximizes drive system life.
Square drive couplers connecting the flighting and drive mechanism are another Farm King feature that can reduce downtime. Some competing brands use only round couplers. If a shear bolt fails on those designs, it can be replaced only after manually cleaning out the auger. Square couplers on Farm King augers allow the flighting to keep turning and easily empty for repair.
“One thing that sold us (on Farm King augers) was simplicity of design,” says Abe Penner, co-owner of Little Morden Service, a Farm King dealer. “It’s simple but durable.” And Penner was pleased with the price tags. “They’re very cost effective,” he adds. “They’re reasonably priced.”
Also available in the Farm King auger line are the 8″, 10″ and 13″ conventional models. Lengths run from 31 to 61 feet. They can be equipped with self-levelling mounting positions for small gasoline or electric motors, or even PTO drive.
“Lift and reach are second to none because of the undercarriage design,” adds Enns.
Gearboxes are positioned to give these augers a long reach for deep penetration into bins. That reduces the amount of shovelling required to get the last load of grain out.
The design of an auger can also significantly affect how much power it takes to run. Power loss just from the drive mechanism can be significant on some types. The more power lost this way, the larger the motor required. And, of course, the more fuel used.
The gearbox design on Farm King augers has a lower power loss than many competing brands. And top-end drives are housed in a sealed oil bath, which keeps them properly lubricated and protected from damaging dust.
Penner says his dealership has had to perform few warranty repairs on augers they’ve sold. “It’s been very minimal,” he says. And the few times a repair has been required, Farm King has stood firmly behind their product. “They’re a very good company for after-sales support.”
To fully meet a farm’s auger needs, Farm King also offers short utility and transfer models that can reach under a hopper or into other tight places to aid in loading or unloading.
To find out more about Farm King augers, visit www.farm-king.com.