Review: Hustler SF1250 silage wagon

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Hustler SF1250 silage wagon Hustler SF1250 silage wagon
Hustler SF1250 silage wagon Hustler SF1250 silage wagon

Mark Fouhy tests one of the first New Zealand-made Hustler SF1250 side feed silage wagons and says it ticks all the boxes. Even better, he’s added it to his wish list.

Amalgamations and mergers have been part of business growth and progression since business first began. This has certainly been the case in farming and agricultural machinery.

One of the latest mergers is the purchase of South Island-based Robertson Manufacturing by iconic New Zealand family business Hustler. And hot out of the South Island factory is the Hustler SF1250 feed wagon, a solidly built and simple-to-use machine that combines the best ingenuity from both companies.

The gleaming new Hustler SF1250 was delivered to Matamata for me to test, accompanied by Hustler marketing manager Brent Currie, who talked me through all the features.

Brent also brought a Hustler Swift Hitch, which made hooking up to the tractor a breeze with clear visibility of the tow eye and pin. The feature of being able to lock the tow eye for connection with a quick hitch is bound to save some frustration.

Once hooked on, we headed down the road to the maize stack.

The almost 3-tonne weight (empty) was noticeable when we hit the hills, but this is a positive, meaning it has plenty of steel and is built to last. The 95 New Holland was big enough for the task; the job just took a bit longer compared to if we had a bigger machine.

Photo of the Hustler silage wagon rear tray
More clearance makes feeding materials such as fodder beet easier

With a loading height under 2m, a standard farm size (80-120hp) tractor is quite adequate for loading duties. If operators are a bit blasé with loading, replaceable hungry boards along the edge of the bin are a feature worthy of noting.

While the SF1250 is the smallest feed-out wagon in the Hustler range (the largest is a whopping 20 cubic metres load level capacity), it still has a capacity of 12.5 cubic metres.

If you happen to be on a farm with small laneways and narrow gates, you will need to make use of your mirrors so you don’t remove the smart, bright green paint job.

However, these wagons do have strong tubular bars to protect the crucial elements of the machine – the side feed conveyor and mechanical drive – and, honestly, you will do more damage to the fence than the wagon should the two happen to meet.

The removable mudguards are made of the same strength tubular steel with tread plate.

Although we only had maize to feed out for the test, the SF1250 was simple to operate and fed well both in heaps and under fence lines to minimise wastage.

One important feature I forgot to test was whether you could drive over electric poly wires – a helpful time saver. Brent informs me it has the largest ground clearance of any machine here and can do so easily when fitted with a fence hopper kit.

Photo of the covered drive shafts of the Hustler SF1250 Silage Wagon
Covered drive shafts eliminate blockage

Operation

With only a double-acting hydraulic valve required to operate the floor, feed elevator and side conveyor, the system is hydraulic load sensing, making the entire operation refreshingly simple.

If by chance the operator does run the floor backwards with a full load, the spring latch system on the door will open before any damage is done.

The solid construction (with mesh opening for visibility) of the elevator set up does make it difficult to judge how much of the load you have left to feed if you were feeding to more than one mob of animals.

However, the scales option would overcome that issue and take the guesswork out of how much you need to load into the machine for starters.

Safety is important on farms and all Hustler wagons are fitted with safety chains in case something should go wrong.

The side-mounted ladder for access to the body of the wagon is mounted to the rear of the machine, away from the feed elevator to minimise the chance of mishaps here.

If you are feeding baleage and happen to drag too much over into the conveyor area, the front grill can be removed to clear the blockage without entering into the conveyor/elevator area with moving parts.

Photo of the auto release tailgate of the Hustler SF1250 Silage Wagon
Auto release tailgate

Design

The design of a machine is important, and being a little different certainly can offer some benefits. The Hustler SF1250 has a few design features that set it apart from other brands.

One of these is the side-feed conveyor rollers. The crowned rollers on this machine are almost twice the diameter of those on other machines, meaning belts don’t have to turn through as tight a corner. This means less belt wear and tracking off the rollers and adjustment.

Slippage of the belt is also minimised with the bigger rollers. These allow for the drawbar to fit between the top and bottom of the conveyor, and for the frame/chassis of the wagon to be built directly onto it.

This results in greater strength and ground clearance from the tow hitch point to the front of the wagon. This is particularly useful when used in undulating/hilly terrain.

The oscillation of the tandem axle also offers a great range of movement, aiding in stability in rougher terrain. Tyres can be chosen to suit your environment.

Photo of the jack and quick hitch foot on the Hustler SF1250 Silage Wagon
The jack design allows it to be used as a quick hitch foot

Construction

The use of a 3mm full steel floor is one of my favourite features of the Hustler SF1250 wagon. I also like the fact that the floor slats are welded to the floor chains, which run along the edge of the body, as opposed to more traditional bolt-on slats running through channels with wooden floors.

The latter tend to rot out and break over time, requiring extra repairs and maintenance.

The flat floor gives an excellent clean-out of feed with only a small bit being missed in the front just before the feed elevator. The feed elevator does have prongs at a 45-degree angle on the edges to help drag through the likes of long chop feed.

The top of the elevator feed drive axle has a cover and the bottom uses short stub axles to prevent things being wrapped around them.

The body or tub of the Hustler wagon is welded steel with only one rib half way up to provide extra strength. There are no bolts, rivets, or other fastenings to come lose over time or for feed to catch on, again ensuring a good clean out of feed material.  

Photo of the drive roller of the Hustler SF1250 Silage Wagon
Huge drive roller increases longevity

Servicing

There are no blades to change or replace like a mixer wagon, and the steel floor design means maintenance on these wagons is mostly limited to checking tyre pressure and condition, tensions for the floor, and elevator chains and conveyor.

Greasing is the main job, like many machines. Although not fitted on the test machine, the Hustler can be specified with central greasing point/s to make life easier. After discussion with Brent, I would agree that there is no substitute for actually making sure the grease goes in the point you want it to.

The added benefit of this is that you are doing a more thorough inspection of the machine, bearings, seals, etc, possibly preventing damage occurring that would otherwise go unnoticed.

With these jobs ticked off, and the Hustler two-year warranty, your local agent shouldn’t need to see the machine again for at least a decade when you trade it on a new one.

Photo of the clean bin design and tough steel floor of the Hustler SF1250 Silage Wagon
Clean bin design and tough steel floor

Options

As a base machine, you don’t get too many bells and whistles; just a capable machine equipped to handle the ins and outs of daily farm life. Hustler realises that no two farms are the same and offers a range of extras to suit individual needs.

If you were using your machine between different properties, the brakes and lighting kits may be options you would go for. The Swift Hitch and weigh scales would be my pick.

The wagons come load-cell ready and use a cylindrical load cell that handles changing ground contours and loads without being affected by twisting, side loads, or fatigue.

Weighing of the load is possible connected to the tractor or on the stand if the tractor is required for both loading and feeding.

Another option is the Comby Spread, which can hold 75kg of dry product such as magnesium, lime flour or minerals, and will dispense these directly onto the feed row, minimising wastage and saving time by not making another pass through the paddock.

Photo of the heavy-duty drive system protected by bumper bars of the Hustler SF1250 Silage Wagon
The heavy-duty drive system is protected by bumper bars

The bottom line

My conclusion after testing? I could find little to fault with the Hustler SF1250 wagon, which shows that good design stands the test of time.

I would have been more than happy to leave the Hustler Swift Hitch on my tractor, and the new SF1250 Hustler wagon in my shed. It is far superior to what I currently have in every way, and would save me quite a few hours work.

My wagon? For some strange reason, Brent didn’t want to swap. He said something about the scrap dealers not being open on Mondays!   

Specifications:

Hustler SF1250:

Capacity: 12.5 cubic metres

Tare weight: 2950kg

Loading height: 1780mm

Dimensions (LxWxH): 6555mm x 2750mm x 5970mm

Hydraulics: 1 x double acting, 30-60L/minute

Elevator/conveyor: 900mm wide

Floor chains: 2 standard, 4 as option

Jack type: 80mm Screw

Axle size: 70 x 6

Tyres: 11.5/80R 15.3 standard, options available

Floor type: 3mm steel

Other options: Scales, brakes, lights, mineral spreaders

Warranty: 24 months

HITS

  • Flat steel floor offers long service life with minimal repairs and maintenance like a wooden floor
  • A well-built, quality wagon made to last
  • Load cell/scales ready if you want to upgrade down the track
  • A great list of options to suit different operations.

MISSES

  • I thought the ladder could be mounted at the front, behind the feed elevator to minimise opportunity of damage on strainer posts. It is mounted at the rear to minimise chances of H&S mishaps with personal entering the feeder.

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