Our 20 foot unloader is shot. Here are the options from the local supplier. New chains and arm for ours, $14000. Trade ours in for a reman one, $22,500. New alliance unloader without chain oiler and auto ratchet control, $43,000. New alliance with bells and whistles, $52,000. I thought the first option was crazy, and it got worse from there. This is used for alfalfa silage, 300 head beef. The reman does come with some warranty. Any body else been in this situation? Looking for good advise or better options. PS, the harvestor is full so we do need to get the stuff out.
Posted 6/11/2010 18:44 (#1233325 - in reply to #1233317) Subject: Re: Harvestore unloader
we have used several rebuilt unloaders in the past and got along fine with them. Everytime you turn around its another $10,000 for something on these things. Ours is all but empty and we are going to change it over to a dry structure this summer.
Posted 6/11/2010 19:19 (#1233352 - in reply to #1233330) Subject: Re: Harvestore unloader
Would whoever is taking down your Harvestore be interested in another? Also, that is very nice of you to offer the Goliath unloader. The Goliath unloader in my silo is not anything to write home about but it's available as well.
Posted 6/11/2010 19:28 (#1233362 - in reply to #1233317) Subject: RE: Harvestore unloader
Dad got a rebuilt Goliath II when we put up our 25x90. I forget if we got it dug out once or twice. The second year, guys said the unloader was done, had to buy a new one. *&$#%@
So, Dad got an Alliance with all bells and whistles, thinks "The Big Jim lasted 35 years, this should last for 50" 6 years down the road, $7000 for new chain. And it never did feed out worth a crap, the spring seems to get out of adjustment all the time so it won't advance. On and on it goes. If anything wasn't running it was the brand new Alliance. The 1975 Jamesway Big Jim? Never problems that a bolt or a hammer wouldn't fix.
Honestly, I hate Harvestore with a passion. See if you can't throw up a used Patz unloader to get it empty, get the holes cut as you go down. Then put in top-drop-down-the-hole-in-the-middle-bottom unloader, (the style like the Big Jim or the Quantum, like one from ValMetal. I hate Patz unloaders too). Compared to the Harvestore, major trouble is simply not possible. Sure you are going to lose the 'air-tight' structure, blah blah blah, but that is a load of crap. We unloaded hay from a 20x70 cement silo that had been there for 10 years. It was put in nice, it fermented nice, it packed nice, it stayed nice for a decade. 6 inches of surface rot and then as good as gold.
Posted 6/11/2010 20:15 (#1233404 - in reply to #1233362) Subject: RE: Harvestore unloader
Sumner GA, Located in southwest GA,
Be a dumb question on my part I'm sure, but do you have to climb the silo still for the hole in the middle unloaders or can they be handled from the ground for everything except maintenance? (I hate hieghts)
Posted 6/11/2010 22:15 (#1233549 - in reply to #1233404) Subject: RE: Harvestore unloader
North Shore, O`ahu
You probably have to climb it a few times during filling to open and close the hole former, unless you have the electric version of it, plus you have to shift the auger closer to the silo wall before you start to feed out (and grease it once while you're up there). After that you only have to climb if you plug the hole or the motor capacitors burn out (This usually happens on a Sunday morning or late at night during planting season).
Posted 6/11/2010 23:23 (#1233706 - in reply to #1233549) Subject: RE: Harvestore unloader
lol. Yeah. Been there, done that. The worst thing that happened was the electricians told us the motor was done, 50ft left in the silo. So pulleys in the chute and dropped her down. Annnnnd, twit put the wire in wrong place. Grrrr.
We climb up and down on the inside chute so I at least don't notice the height. It is on the outside (especially if there is no cage) that I start feeling weak.
Yup, exactly as Haleiwa says.
We have buried the unloader with a couple loads of hay before too when filling because of inexperienced operators (I think I did it the worst. But it only happened once).
Had the hole blocked a number of times, made the tunnel underneath 3 ft high, 4ft wide for better access, this helped substantially with preventing blockages in the first place.
But despite the trouble, I still find it less trouble overall than Harvestore or Patz. Most of the trouble we have is because we were rushing and didn't fix something right.
Posted 6/11/2010 20:42 (#1233425 - in reply to #1233317) Subject: Re: Harvestore unloader
I am currently running 6 Harvestores for silage. 2 Hercules unloaders, 1 Goliath model 70, and three Alliance unloaders. I do all the maintenence and rebuilding myself. I bought a set of chains, paddles, hooks, sprockets and arm for around $7000 last year from our genuine Harvestore dealer. I did the work myself, so that may be why your price is so much higher.
Last year I also bought some chain, hooks and sprockets from Les at Quality Parts Inc ( http://www.bluetubeparts.com ). I highly recommend his Samurai hooks and his rubber paddles. I like his new cast chain for haylage. I would call Les and talk to him about your options.
You can also talk to Dave at Better Bilt silo. He has good chains and parts. However, I do not like his hooks. Harvestore's "chisel" hooks or QPI's "samurai" hooks are much better.
If you decide to go with the Alliance unloader, I would delete the oiler option. It has not helped make the chains last any longer on my farm.
Posted 6/12/2010 12:43 (#1234265 - in reply to #1234190) Subject: Re: Harvestore unloader
I use the Herc's for ground corn. I have not put any money in the Herc's for at least the last 15 years. They seem to last forever in ground corn. My dealer tells me that there are many obsolete parts, but I have a couple spare's in the shed. I will run them until they are gone and then I'll replace with rebuilt Goliath's when the time comes.
Posted 6/11/2010 21:08 (#1233451 - in reply to #1233317) Subject: Re: Harvestore unloader
SCIL, (South of 16)
Throw the Harvestore stuff away. I quit dairying 18 mo. ago due to a split in assets between family, but 10 years or so ago we got sick and tired of the amount and cost of maintenence of harvestore unloaders. We had every one from Hercules to Goliath to Goliath II to Alliance, they all were a drain on the pocketbook wether you did your own work on not. Plus they fed slower than he!!. In 2001 we switched to a big jim quantum and never looked back. In the first six years or so the only major repair we had due to wear was the auger which was 1/3 the price of new chains on a GoliathII at the time, and we turned the 90 foot structure over 3 to 3.5 times a year with haylage and corn silage. Not only is the maintenence cheaper ,but the unloading rate was 3 to 4 times faster. I remember at the time our quantum dealer telling us that they had recently (in 2001) replaced a bottom unloader with a quantum when the harvestore was 1/2 to 3/4 full of corn silage. I'm not sure if it was their machine or the company's ( Jamesway at the time), but they used some type of machine to bore the center hole in the structure. The dealer was Unverfurth Inc. in Centralia, Il.
Posted 6/11/2010 23:19 (#1233698 - in reply to #1233317) Subject: Re: Harvestore unloader
We have to Goliath unloaders, have been in for about 30 years. Put new backbones in a few years and new chains every 10 years. We are on our second set of chains from some dealer in Wisconsin, i can't remember his name. He sells excellent chain that is heavy and knives that last. Both of them have had liners put in the front part. They work great for feeding 150 head of yearlings and cows every once in awhile. If anything the rest of the system needs more work than the unloaders. Keep your harvestore dealer happy so when you break a chain at a 90 degree angle they might come out and help you. Don't have to spend a lot there, but some.
Posted 6/12/2010 00:34 (#1233807 - in reply to #1233317) Subject: Re: Harvestore unloader
We have an Alliance and an XL unloader, each in 20X80's that previously had the Goliath 74's. The new XL has chains that are twice as strong and built much heavier all the way through, has a 25 horse variable speed motor. The 10 horsepower Alliance has a 30" trough and that makes a huge difference in feed out speed. My XL is the 24" version and wish it had the 30" trough, the Alliance with a 30" trough will usually keep up with it. The 24" trough really limits your capacity. I figure you will spend the same $ per ton rebuilding unloaders or buying a new one in the long run, like the saying goes "pay me now or pay me later". I was planning on rebuilding each of the old ones again, but got talked into the new ones and looking back do not regret it. Yes, I had sticker shock too. I know Harvestores aren't popular with some people, but Dad put these silos up in '76 and '82 and they have been used every day since, with relatively few problems. I feel 50-55% moisture haylage works best for the unloaders and the cows. We share an oiler with both unloaders and grease at least once per week. My advise is if you plan on using the silo long term, go with the rebuilt/warranty or the new Alliance(with auto ratchet control). That way you have warranty coverage and avoid spending nearly as much on parts and still have an "old" unloader, especially if your backbone, tank, ratchet and ratchet bushings are worn. I wouldn't recommend the XL unless you have a 30" trough. The oiler does seem to help make those expensive chains last a little longer. We buy 5 gallons of vegetable oil at Sam's Club a couple times of year. Also make sure you check condition of your floor when you get the silo empty, the only digout we had in 35 years was when the arm got stuck on a badly worn spot on the floor. Also, never put in haylage over 65% moisture, will cost extra $ in unloader wear and tear and slow you down.
Posted 6/12/2010 13:40 (#1234328 - in reply to #1233807) Subject: Re: Harvestore unloader
I fully agree on the moisture. We put some 65% corn silage in last fall, probably some of the best feed we have ever had, but the acid in it was sooo much worse. Seemed to wear things out a little quicker. We like putting 40% alfalfa haylage, so the unloader will feed better. About 5-8 years ago we took out the steel floors in both silos, the cutter chain was peeling it up, and put in an epoxy floor. So far its worked great. Can a guy put an auto oiler on a Goliath unloader? I've always thought them would be handy.
Posted 6/12/2010 11:13 (#1234181 - in reply to #1233905) Subject: RE: Harvestore unloader
When I was younger I was always trying to talk Dad into bunks, but I am starting to change my mind again. We do silage with 2 or 3 people. So between mowing, merging, chopping and unloading, we are understaffed. I honestly can't imagine going faster with a bunk, all the time saved unloading the hay needs to be spend packing a couple inches at a time, no? Was wondering, isn't there a kind of a tipping point? You know, 400 head or less - tower silos, 400 or more - bunk?
Posted 6/13/2010 00:19 (#1235018 - in reply to #1234181) Subject: Bags
A bagger will do everything that a Harvestore will do and more without the ridiculously high maintenance costs and the painfully slow unloading.
With the numbers stated above I would guess that a brand spanking new bagger could be had for less $ than the new Harvestore unloader. You can put a whole lot more than one silo worth of silage through a bagger in a years time.
Posted 6/13/2010 09:03 (#1235213 - in reply to #1235018) Subject: RE: Bags
Kettle River, MN
It does make a huge difference to have a slab under the bags that youll be feeding out of when it is muddy. The only advantage I think silos have is in sh!tty weather. I've always liked bagged feed, if you put something good in it something good will come out of it.
Posted 6/13/2010 11:05 (#1235387 - in reply to #1235213) Subject: Re: Harvestore unloader
We have both silos and bags. The silos are easier clean up after filling, providing you have someone that like heights. The wrong moisture alfalfa doesn't blow up the silo very well, but with a bagger is doesn't matter. Raccoons like to get into bags of corn silage, so that is one major downfall. If it is cold and snowy, the conveyor belt that goes into the pens like to freeze down and not run so you have to use the feedtruck anyway. But it is nice to be out of the window.
Posted 6/12/2010 15:33 (#1234435 - in reply to #1233317) Subject: RE: Harvestore unloader
build a bunker........ the repair bills on your unloader will make the payment on mantainence free cement bunker. we built a 60 x 160 bunker will 10 foot walls for 50000 we did the labor, this is big enough to hold 2500 ton of silage . in 5 years it will be paid for, in 5 years your unloader will be shot again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!