Review: Bergmann TSW A 19 universal spreader

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Tom Dickson heads to Trafalgar, in Victoria’s Gippsland region, to try out a Bergmann TSW A 19 universal spreader mounted on a highly versatile Vario 440 multipurpose chassis

Unlike many European-made products that are designed on the lighter side to work on perfectly prepared soils that have been farmed for hundreds of years, the German-made Bergmann TSW A 19 universal spreader is, if anything, overspecced and well suited to the rigours of work in Australia.

I recently headed to the Victorian town of Trafalgar to check it out.

There’s only one Bergmann universal spreader chassis combination currently in Australia but, if importer and distributor Steve Deppeler’s confidence in the brand is anything to go by, it will be the first of many.

The multi-purpose German-made spreading unit is a combination of a Bergmann TSW A 19 universal spreader mounted on Bergmann Vario 440 multipurpose chassis using a quick-release chassis system.

A locking mechanism on each corner of the bin – the same that is used to lock down shipping containers to truck chassis – is used to secure the spreader to the Vario 440.

The letter A indicates that the body is detachable. The Universal TSW range is also available as an all-in-one unit that cannot be separated.

Extra-heavy-duty steel spinners are built strong to handle even the hardest of objects coming through
Extra-heavy-duty steel spinners are built strong to handle even the hardest of objects coming through

The Vario 440 multipurpose chassis contains all the suspension, braking, weighing and steering componentry and forms a solid base on which to mount a variety of spreaders, tanks, chaser bins and silage carts.

As you can imagine, this can equate to massive cost savings.

Agricultural contractor Steve Deppeler’s first experience with Bergmann was using one of the company’s silage wagons which, in his words, epitomised German manufacturing quality.

"I was after a multi-purpose spreader so when I found out Bergmann had a variety of spreaders on the market, I thought I’d try and get my hands on one," he says.

"The trouble was, there was no-one in Australia dealing them, so I was forced to travel to Germany to get one for myself."

The purchase didn’t end there, though, because he realised that if an experienced contractor like him recognised its quality, then so too would other contractors in Australia.

With this in mind, he and his wife founded the company Megahire for the purpose of importing and distributing Bergmann products here.

Walkaround

The horizontal beaters and the spinners have an overload clutch to prevent overloading the gearbox
The horizontal beaters and the spinners have an overload clutch to prevent overloading the gearbox

The 19-cubic-metre universal spreader’s body measures 6.9m long, 2.05m wide and 1.25m high, and is capable of spreading dairy feed pad and calf pen residue, lime, gypsum and chook manure.

The spreader body is completely sealed so it can even spread the thick sludge from dairy effluent ponds.  Optional extensions increase the carrying capacity up to 25 cubic metres.

Straight sides on the bin are the key to its ability to handle a broad variety of material – they help eliminate bridging above the dual conveyors and allow a wider conveyor floor to be installed.

The hydraulically operated rear sliding door has a working range from fully shut to a maximum opening of 1.7m. It controls the flow of material to two horizontal beaters and two heavy-duty spinners.

The beaters and spinners are PTO driven, while the rear door and floor have hydraulic drive.

It should be noted that the spinners are not your everyday lightweight aluminium or stainless steel types; they are built from heavy-duty steel.

That’s very important because when you’re loading the leftover material from feed pads, you inevitably get the odd bit of concrete going in, which would destroy a lightweight spinner on the way out.

The dual floor conveyors are driven by two 25-tonne chains which provide a total of 100 tonnes of force.

Dual floor conveyors have far less stress placed on them than single floor conveyors, which only have one chain either side with the bars having to span the full width of the floor.     

The chassis

Impact protection is fitted to the top of the bin sides to prevent damage while loading
Impact protection is fitted to the top of the bin sides to prevent damage while loading

Drawbar

The drawbar has hydraulic suspension built in to cushion the shock of the load on the tractor and allow the operator to change the angle and the height of the drawbar to match the height of the tractor’s tow hitch.

Deppeler says the K80 ball hitch used on the spreader completely eliminates any movement within the hitch, reducing machine wear and doubling the life of the bearings in the PTO shaft.

The chassis has a hydraulic support stand that is operated from inside the cabin to aid the attaching and detaching process. It means the spreader can easily be removed from the tractor even when it is completely full.

Suspension

The Vario 440 is a tandem-axle chassis using Bergmann hydraulic suspension.

Hydraulic rams on all four wheels allow load transfer sharing between the front and rear axles, each with up to 300mm of travel. There is no load sharing between the left- and right-hand side wheels as this can cause instability on hills.

 ADR axles and suspension are fitted as standard. BPW axles are available upon request but add an extra $6000 to the purchase price. 

The suspension rams are connected to the chassis and axles using tight rubber bushes without grease nipples. Wherever a grease nipple is used, there has to be a gap to allow grease to get in and that gap immediately creates a wear point. This rubber bush design allows some give without wear and has been proven to be effective on Kenworth truck suspensions.

Bergmann TSW A 19 universal spreader

Brakes

The Vario 440 has air-operated anti-lock brakes with automatic load sensing to help maintain control.

With this system, the brakes receive hydraulic pressure readings from the suspension system and adjust their sensitivity according to the load.

Basically what this means is that when the bin is full and at maximum weight the brakes apply full pressure. As the weight in the bin decreases, the braking system automatically decreases the braking pressure to prevent the breaks from locking up.

Steering

The spreader follows behind the tractor without too much cut in thanks to its self-tracking mechanical steering system.

When the self-steering function is engaged it allows the wheels to float freely and follow the path of least resistance, which in this case is following the directional pull of the tractor.

Out on the road, when you want the machine to be more stable at higher speeds, you disengage the self-tracking system and hydraulic rams lock the wheels in a fixed position.

Forced steering is available as an optional extra to provide an even tighter turning circle and forces the unit to follow the towing vehicle more precisely. 

Removing the spreader

Removing the bin is a simple operation that takes no more than about 10 minutes. First you unlock the four truck locks and pressurise the suspension to extend the rams to their maximum 300mm of travel.

With the spreader bin lifted to its full height, four leg stands can be slotted in – one each corner.

To complete the detachment of the spreader, a few hydraulic hoses and the PTO drive must be disconnected. The chassis is now lowered by decreasing the pressure on the suspension rams and driven out from under the bin ready for another unit to be installed.

My view

Traction management, automatic levelling, roll stabilsation and the weighing unit on the Vario 440 chassis can be operated with the CCI 200 terminal
 

As I walked up to the Bergmann TSW A 19 universal spreader, my first impression was that it looked a sturdy piece of equipment.

Loading it up with a dense clumpy mixture of hay, straw, wood shavings and cow dung piled up beside the dairy feed pad was a fairly basic process.

This is the most common time for damage to occur from loaders smashing into the sides during filling. To help prevent damage, the Bergmann spreader has a protective rubber bumper attached to the top of each side.

Once in the paddock, we raised the rear door to the recommended height. A scale attached to the spreader gave an indication of where the door should be set to achieve the desired rate of application for a variety of different products.

However, the marker is about 10cm wide and doesn’t clearly indicate at which point along its width it is pointing at the numbered scale.

Engaging the PTO to 1000rpm started the beaters and spinners in motion. The machine was now ready for operation and only required forward movement to start the double floor conveyor.

Bergmann TSW A 19 universal spreader

A short test run allowed the spread width to be measured and recorded into the monitor along with the desired application rate. The monitor uses this information to control the speed of the conveyor floor to achieve the correct application rate.

I found the ISOBUS-compatible terminal’s large display screen was very easy to navigate. It has backlighting for night operation and offers various interfaces such as USB, Wi-Fi access and video input.

Our thick clumpy wet mass was smashed down into small pieces no bigger than a tennis ball and spread very evenly across the paddock.

A rear skirt dropped down so that the degree of spread was reduced and prevented spreading onto neighbouring paddocks on the first pass around the boundary fence. The spread was much better than I would have expected.

The dual horizontal beaters did a good job of tearing clumps off the face of the pile but it was the high-speed heavy-duty steel spinners that really smashed it down to pieces that will quickly break down back into the soil.

Weigh scales in the chassis allowed precise application rates by continually providing information to the Bergmann control terminal.

My gut feeling on this machine is very good and I am sure you wouldn’t be disappointed if you had one of these in your fleet.

I really like the fact that you can buy one chassis then add various units to it. 

HITS      

Multi-purpose chassis

Dual floor conveyor belts

Load-sensing braking

Quick locks for attachment to chassis 

K80 ball hitch

Hydraulically adjustable drawbar

ISOBUS Terminal

Hydraulic suspension

MISSES

Clear mark on sight gauge to identify rear door opening height          

Bergmann TSW A 19 universal spreader Bergmann TSW A 19 universal spreader
The door-opening height gauge has no clear reference point marked on its sliding indicator The door-opening height gauge has no clear reference point marked on its sliding indicator
Bergmann TSW A 19 universal spreader Bergmann TSW A 19 universal spreader
Bergmann TSW A 19 universal spreader Bergmann TSW A 19 universal spreader

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