The LB4 square balers introduced last fall in Racine, Wisconsin, boast a completely new design and better performance than their predecessors
The sleek, streamlined exterior styling of Case IH’s LB4 Series large square balers creates the impression of speed, but according to Brett DeVries, product marketing manager for Case IH hay and forage, that suggestion of speed is no illusion. Engineering improvements built into the LB4s are designed to make them work faster — and better.
“This new baler is helping producers maximize their baling window,” he says, as he stands beside an LB334 in Racine, Wisconsin, while walking a small group of farm journalists around it. “How we’re doing that is through efficient high-speed baling. This model here has about 20 per cent more capacity than our previous models. In today’s environment the baling window is only about two to five hours (per day). It’s important to get as much done in that short window as possible.”
To get the LB4s to gulp down hay much faster, engineers sped them up, literally. Plunger speed has been increased from what was used in the previous models. “We went from 42 strokes per minute to 48, so we can push that material through quicker,” explains DeVries.
Adding to that is a high-inertia flywheel that has grown is size by 19 per cent. “The flywheel is kind of the heart and soul of this baler,” he continues. “It keeps everything going smoothly. Some of our competitors have gone to just putting more weight in the flywheel. We’ve used physics. Number one, we made it a little bit wider; and number two, we changed the shape just a little bit. The bottom line is we get 21 per cent more inertia than our previous design.”
To match that internal efficiency improvement, the LB4s now have to lift windrows much faster. That meant making changes to the pickup as well. In fact, it meant totally redesigning it. The frame and most of the components are now beefier. The improvements were meant not only to allow it to do its job much better, but to make it more durable as well.
“We can make that plunger go as fast as we want, but if we’re not picking it (hay) up any faster down below, it’s not doing us any good,” says DeVries. “So, there was a big emphasis on making sure we get that material picked up.”
New pickup design
Incorporated into the new pickup design is a roller wind guard and an upper feed-assist roller to ensure the crop mat flows evenly into the baler. “Instead of pushing that crop when you get into light conditions, (the feed-assist roller) goes up against the crop mat and helps feed it in quicker,” he adds.
Up top, the LB4s’ knotters are what DeVries called a “tried and true system.” They tie a double knot in the twine and are driven by a gearbox instead of a chain drive. That prevents chain wear from causing problems and eliminates the need to oil and service it. “We haven’t really changed anything on the knotters, just because it’s a good thing and it works,” he explains.
The LB4s can be controlled by Case IH’s Pro 300 and Pro 700 monitors, which are integrated into the Magnum and Puma tractors. But because it’s ISOBUS ready, it should just plug and play with any brand of tractor using ISOBUS architecture. “It’s just a matter of plugging (an LB4) in to the tractor,” DeVries says. “It’s ISO compatible.” Learning how to operate the system is easy for new drivers. “It’s a very intuitive design and easy for guys to use.”
And that streamlined look I mentioned earlier isn’t just for appearances; it also happens to be one of the updates engineers intentionally designed into the LB4s to make servicing them a much less dirty job than working on some others. With the shape of most balers, dust builds up in a variety of places and some of it often ends up down the neck of anyone doing maintenance on them. The curved shape of the sheet metal on LB4s is meant to help prevent that.
“A lot of that dirt and debris falls off the baler, versus collecting,” says DeVries. “In the twine box, there are no ledges for that stuff to build up on.”
The LB4s are also two feet narrower than the previous models, making it easier to see to the rear of the tractor.
Says DeVries: “We are very excited about the performance of this new baler series.” †