A few years ago we bought a new-to-us Versatile sprayer which was quite an upgrade from our old sprayer. The only trouble is it had those little wheelbarrow wheels on the booms which always seemed to give trouble. I’m sure they work fine on wheelbarrows, but on the end of a sprayer boom rolling along at six or eight miles an hour the water runs and rocks take their toll.
I’m sure Ben, my son and our farm’s main sprayer guy, could change those tires, wheel bearings and spindles in his sleep. It became so bad we were buying the wheel bearings by the 10-pack and after a few years of this, we got tired of the hassle. When they were new the sprayers might have worked well and perhaps had better wheels and bearings but by the time we bought it 20-years later, they were a pretty poor system.
We checked around and there didn’t seem to be a ready-made solution. One of our neighbours said he had had some success by replacing the wheel bearings with brass bushings. Ben tackled the project, and after some trial and error he got them all changed over to bushings. The result? An entire spraying season without a wheel bearing problem. We still have problems with the light duty wheels breaking, but hopefully we can find some heavier wheels. This repair should work well for any light duty wheel as long as you can get bushings the right size.
Here’s how he did it:
1. First make sure you have a good wheel. Lots of ours were worn from having the bearings turn in the wheel. The wheels are relatively cheap and easily available, but they are only the light duty wheels. We haven’t found a supplier yet for a heavier version of the eight-inch wheel. (Does anyone know where to get the heavier eight-inch wheel? If you do, let me know.) Check the inner diameter of the wheel where the wheel bearing goes. Our wheels were 1-3/8 inches (1.375 in.) inside the bearing area.
2. For each wheel you need: 1 6 x 3/4 bolt (6-1/2 might be
needed for some applications)
2 3/4-inch flat washers
2 3/4-inch nuts to fit the bolt or one self locking nut
2 bushings 1-3/8 inch outside x one inch inside and one and a half inches long
2 bushings one inch outside x 3/4-inch inside and one-and a half inches long
(We weren’t able to find a single bushing for the job so we had to use two bushings on each side)
3. The wheel should have a grease fitting on it but the bushing will cover the opening where the grease goes. Therefore, you have to cut a groove in the outer bushing to allow the grease to get to the inside of the wheel. Use a small grinder or something similar but try not to cut through to the inside of the bushing.
4. Press the two bushings together.
5. Press the bushing assembly into the wheel making sure the groove lines up with the grease fitting.
6. Pack with grease and install. I prefer to use two nuts on the bolt and to tighten them against each other. A self-locking nut also works but they wear out in time and they’re a bit harder to install.
There you go! Lube regularly and they’ll last a lot better than the bearings.
We had a couple of other problems with the sprayer wheels. The only tires we could get in town were really light and looked suitable for wheelbarrows and not much else. They didn’t last too long. We ended up going to Canadian Tire and getting 4.80 by eight-inch trailer tires for around $28 each. They lasted much longer.
The other problem we had was the spindle that holds the wheels. These had been broken and welded innumerable times and needed replacement. There was nothing available for Versatile sprayer parts through the dealer network but we did find that Agritech in Nobleford, Alta., makes them. We ordered a couple and they worked fine.
Now that the sprayer wheels don’t fall off every hundred or so acres Ben is enjoying the job a lot more.
RonSettlerfarmswithhiswifeandtwosons atLuckyLake,Sask.Contacthimat:306-858- 2681orat [email protected]