REVIEW: Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus rotary rake

By: Tom Dickson, Photography by: Tom Dickson

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1884 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake 2 The new generation Swadro rake proves itself capable of working in even the toughest of conditions. 1884 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake 2
1880 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake hydraulic ramsh One set of hydraulic rams raise and lower the rotors into position while a second set alter working width. 1880 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake hydraulic ramsh
1891 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake rear steer Rear steer is standard on the new Swadro TC 880 Plus. 1891 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake rear steer
1893 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake new lift tines Krones Swadro rakes feature new lift tines with crooked ends that effectively lift crop off the ground. 1893 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake new lift tines
1895 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake 3 When completing turns on the headlands the first stage of the lifting process raises the rotors clear of the crop to about a third of their total height. 1895 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake 3
1898 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake working Only the tough survive in these conditions. 1898 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake working
1905 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake PTO speed Recommended PTO speed is between 350-450rpm/min. 1905 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake PTO speed
1908 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake rotor bars Stronger rotor bars have sealed bearings and run in a maintenance free dry cam track. 1908 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake rotor bars
1913 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake two guide wheels The new guide wheel design is stronger and more effective than previous models. 1913 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake two guide wheels
1914 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake width gauge The width gauge is a helpful addition and takes the guess work out of setting up. 1914 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake width gauge
1915 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake two point hitch The two-point hitch incorporates the rear steer mechanism into its design. 1915 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake two point hitch
1916 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake controls Total control from within the cabin. 1916 Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus hay rake controls

Last month, TOM DICKSON trialled the Krone extreme baler, built extra tough to withstand the rigours of contract work. This time around, he checks out another hardy product from the Krone stable.

So far, only a handful of Australians have seen the Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus rotary rake in action because only a few have been snuck into the country for testing in our tough conditions prior to the rake’s Australian launch in early 2015.

Glen Logan from Logan Contracting has been entrusted with one to put it through its paces, and he has told me I am more than welcome to look at it in action.

It will be a great opportunity to see how it handles tough conditions because it will be raking in a paddock at Lake Goldsmith in Victoria recently cleared of a blue gum plantation.

"It’s rough, full of potholes and littered with scraps of wood and tree roots left behind after harvest," Logan confirms.

Just past the Goldsmith Steam Rally site I turn off the main road and make my way up a long, dry, dusty laneway. Either side of me in the paddocks are thousands of round hay bales, which have replaced the blue gums that were harvested only a year or two ago.

As I pull alongside the rake I find the paddock conditions are exactly as Logan said they would be: hot, dry, rough and littered with debris from the tree harvest. The conditions look more suited to a stick rake rather than a hay rake.

 

Contents

Overview

Old vs new

Maintenance and start-up

Performance

Controls

Verdict

Specifications

 

Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus overview

1895_Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus Hay Rake _3

Like the Extreme baler the brand new Swadro TC 880 Plus rotary rake offers contractors and large scale hay producers the opportunity of purchasing a higher speced and more robust rake.

The heavier framed twin rotor, centre delivery rake is constructed from higher gauge steel, stronger rotor bars and a better designed guide wheel system under the rotors.

The new Swadro TC 880 Plus is driven by the tractor’s power take-off (PTO), opened into the working position and set to the desired width using the hydraulics. Electric servomotors, activated by the in-cab control unit, adjust the height of each rotor.

From the moment he or she enters the paddock, the driver can completely set up the rake and start work without leaving the comfort of the cab.

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Krone rakes: Old vs new

A young Irish bloke on working holidays was operating the rake on the property. Patrick Molloy, who is a two-stroke motor mechanic off a beef farm in County Galway in Ireland has used the preceding model Krone rake and reckons this new one is much more suited to rough going.

It’s got a much heavier frame and larger diameter rotor bars. In the event a rotor bar does get damaged it can be removed and because they run in a dry cam track the rake can continue to be operated.

It still operates with three PTO shafts but compared with the old model there is virtually zero vibration. Also included on the Swadro 880 Plus is a very prominent slide gauge that shows us exactly how wide, in metres, the rake is operating.

As the raking width widens from the minimum 7.6m to 8.8m so too does the windrow width so it is very easy from within the cab to create windrows that perfectly match the pick-up width of the baler.

Probably the best improvement is the addition of extra guide wheels under the front of the rotors to ensure the rotors follow the contours of the ground without biting in and causing tine damage.

Two-point hitch is standard on the Swadro 880 Plus and built into the two-point hitch assembly is the rear steer mechanism.

Rear steer ensures perfect tracking while raking and for manoeuvring through tight laneways and narrow gates. The rear tyres that carry the weight of the rake have increased in size to 11.5/80-15.3 also.

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Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus maintenance and start-up

1905_Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus Hay Rake _PTO Speed

A rotary rake is a fairly simple piece of equipment with a lot of moving parts so each morning Molloy spends about 20 minutes attending to grease nipples on the steering arms, pivot points on the rams, wheels and PTO shafts.

It’s a tedious job but time well spent and is reflected in minimal down time for Logan Contracting equipment.

Jumping into the air-conditioned cabin is a welcome relief from the heat. Pushing the hydraulic lever into float brings both rotors gently to the ground.

A sticker on the Swadro 880 Plus frame indicates the PTO speed should be between 350rpm and 450rpm. As we engaged the PTO and the rotors begin spinning we stir up one hell of a dust storm, which suggests the rotors are set too low.

Each rotor has an electromotor to adjust its working height, these motors are controlled from the in cab control box so we raise each rotor an inch or two, which lifts the tines out of the dirt and the problem is solved. It’s showing no sign of PTO shaft shudder.

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Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus Performance

1898_Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus Hay Rake _working

Away we go. The poor rake is being dragged through horrific conditions but doing a beautiful job. Every time the tractor drops into a pothole I look out the back to see the dolly wheels gently guide the rotors through. The front guide wheels lift the front of the rotor before it digs into the ground.

The hay has become extremely brittle in the heat but I’m not seeing too much damage to the crop. I suggest if we slow down the PTO a bit we might be a bit gentler on the crop but Malloy tells me the opposite is true.

The four double-prong tines on each rotor are designed with a bend in, which affectively lifts the crop up as it carries it across to the windrow rather than dragging it across the ground. The brochure refers to this as ‘the Krone lift effect’. Keeping the PTO speed up around 430rpm seems to help with this lift and carry process.

For this job, 7km/h is maximum speed and any faster would be just stupidity but Molloy says he has used the Swadro 880 Plus in good conditions and quite comfortably sits on about 15km/h.  

For about an hour we travel up and down the paddock dodging holes and weaving our way around tree debris left behind by the blokes whose job it was clear the paddock of branches and roots.

Thanks to the steering on its rear wheels, the Swadro 880 Plus tracks beautifully behind us, wherever we go it goes. Even in these rough conditions it’s doing a great job and leaving nothing behind.

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Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus Controls

1916_Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus Hay Rake _controls

At the end of each run I lift the rotors on the hydraulics and make the turn then drop them back down to float again. It’s all pretty simple really.

I notice the rotors will only lift about a third of the way up during this process, which is a built-in safety feature to prevent placing too much angle on the spinning drive shafts and rotors.

It is also possible to operate each rotor individually using the control box, so either side can be lifted over obstacles while maintaining a straight windrow.

To perform a complete lift and fold the PTO has to first be disengaged. Then while lifting the rotors on the hydraulics I hold a safety switch upwards on the control box.

The rotors will now lift fully up and lock in ready for transport. Even when folded the total height is still a fraction under 4m so the rotor bars can stay in during transport on the road. This means I can go from raking to road travel then back to raking again without getting out of the tractor.

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Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus Verdict

It’s so rough this machine shouldn’t be able to rake effectively, but it does. The rotors and tines should be smashing into the ground but they aren’t and it really should be falling to pieces but it isn’t.

In fact, Molloy says the only sign of weakness comes in the way of a rotor guard vibrating loose. If that’s the worst that these conditions have inflicted then I say it has more than proven itself as a safe bet for contractors.

Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus Hits

  • Rear steer
  • Stronger construction
  • Dolly wheel under rotors
  • Width gauge
  • Less aggressive drive shaft angles

Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus Misses

  • Guard rail shook loose

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Krone Swadro TC 880 Plus Specifications

MAKE/MODEL: KRONE SWADRO TC880 PLUS

MIN. WORKING WIDTH: 7.6m

MAX. WORKING WIDTH: 8.8m

No. OF ROTORS: 2

No. of TINE ARMS: 26

No. of DOUBLE TINES: 104

INDIVIDUAL ROTOR LIFT/LOWER FEATURE: STANDARD

ELECTRIC WORK DEPTH CONTROL: STANDARD   

TYRE SIZE ON RUNNING GEAR: 11.5/80-15.3

TYRE SIZE ON BOGIES: 18x8.50-8

TWO-POINT HITCH: STANDARD

TRANSPORT HEIGHT: 4m

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For the detailed test report, don’t forget to pick up a copy of New Farm Machinery magazine issue 18, on-sale February 2. Subscribe to the magazine to never miss an issue. 

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