Reviews

Hay & silage: Joskin silo space cargo

Jaiden Drought tests a wagon that’s versatile, has phenomenal capacity and, weirdly enough, takes him back to his university days.

This month’s machine reminded me of my university days. In between lecture halls and pub crawls, my friends and I would bandy about terms to describe some of our classmates fashion statements. These included ‘sneans’ — a word used to describe the wearing of sneakers and jeans. Now, as we had too much time on our hands and often a light alcoholic beverage in one of them, we came up with some other names for clothing items worn in conjunction with sneakers, generally used to take the mickey (I am cracking myself up remembering it). So came ‘snorts’ (sneakers and shorts), ‘snacks’ (sneakers and track pants) and, my personal favourite, ‘snargos’ — used to describe sneakers and cargo pants. How is this even remotely relevant you might ask? The editing team will be thinking the same thing. This month I am testing the machine version of snargos — the Silo Space Cargo from Joskin. It’s a versatile machine that really is a two-in-one.

Now, there will already be contractors out there running specific forage trailers, where the workload is such that these machines pay their way through grass and maize harvesting without the need to whack the bins off and use them to cart metal through the winter, like your standard bin trailer.

It’s a balancing act with these sorts of machines, as the outlay cost (for obvious reasons) is more than an RHS tip trailer with some box section and corrugated iron for a bin, and yet the versatility is lower given you cannot cart metal.

However, with capacities as high as 40m3 on the 20/40 Joskin Silo Space Cargo test machine and the stability, speed and safety at which these loads can be carried, it will more than make up for the difference in price and its versatility is phenomenal.

As you will discover, the second part of the test focuses on the trailer’s Cargo concept that set it apart from the stock-standard Silo Space. I will explain in more detail later but essentially it is a separate chassis with twist locks and the same chassis can be used for the silage trailer, a dumper, a solid muck spreader and a tanker. Told you it was versatile!

Who will it suit?

This question is quite hard to answer as everybody has slightly different operating environments with different demands and requirements. In my opinion, the two different concepts in this machine (forage trailer/Silo Space vs Cargo) will individually suit different operators. We tested this machine with John Austin of John Austin Contracting in the Waikato, where he already runs a number of forage trailers due to the high volume of silage work he carries out between October and April. The forage trailer/Silo Space system suits him but in my opinion, the Cargo system will not. If he needs a slurry tanker, then a completely separate machine is a more viable option due to the scale of his business. In addition, Austin would need to complete both jobs simultaneously, rather than having to head back to the yard, drop one body off and hitch up another. This, however, will suit a small to medium-sized contractor perfectly, where the saving of up to 25 percent over buying the machines separately will allow the company to diversify with a reduced cost and, after some practice, 15-20 minutes to completely change bodies will suit their operation perfectly.

Like all the Joskin gear we have tested over the years, the Silo Space lives up to its almost flawless reputation with both build quality and ingenuity, again, right at the front of the pack.

Silo Space body

The body is made up of a set of vertical posts supporting side and rear walls made of profiled sheets. The walls are galvanised on both sides and covered with plasticised paint on the outside to prevent corrosion from both the elements and the often nitrogen-rich silage. The bottom of the body is also entirely galvanised and it is supported by a set of cross-pieces linking the vertical posts to each other. The side and rear walls are profiled in the unloading direction, limiting friction on the body and, like the tip trailer I tested last month, the machine is 5cm wider at the back than at the front.

For unloading, the tail door swings 40cm above the body and also includes integrated control of the moving floor — a sensor will only allow the moving floor to start when the door is sufficiently open wider than one metre, or will automatically stop if the door is accidently closed. Once the door is closed it is held in place by a locking spring system to stop you accidently burying the car behind you.

A hydraulic headboard is standard for opening up a paddock following the chopper. This can be folded easily from in the cab, because we all know how much contractors hate to get out of the cab! The beauty of this headboard is it has skirting on the side as the board is folded down to help ensure all the silage goes in the trailer isntead of spewing out of the sides. The front wall is made of galvanised punched steel sheet, which offers both strength and the ability to see exactly how much silage is in the trailer at any one time.

Silo Space floor

One of the key features of these trailers is their stability on the stack. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out most bin trailer rollovers occur when the bin is raised, so to make these forage trailers competitive in terms of turnaround time, there needs to be serious arsenal in the unloading department. The moving floor on the Joskin is made up with two sections (four chains) and is driven by two hydraulic motors (with a lateral box), which improves the strength and power of the whole machine.

The two hydraulic floor motors are well protected under the floor and are fitted with two speeds. The first gear makes it possible to set the moving floor in motion and increase its power, while the second gear makes it possible to unload the silage trailer quickly and evenly. The various functions of the machine (rear door, moving-floor speed, etc.) are operated by the in-cab control box, which is even made of aluminium so it won’t break. I told you they go the extra mile!

The profiled slats on the chains are alternately placed in order to guarantee an even load distribution without the need for rear beaters (although they can be spec’d). To stop that awful fingernail-running-down-the-blackboard sound, there are two sets of Ertalon (very hard plastic) on both sides of the body to prevent the moving floor and the bottom from scraping each other.

Silo Space cover

The cover on the Joskin has been dubbed the ‘telecover’, which I’m sure will make most truckies happy. The cover did exactly as it should and kept the contents of the trailer contained, although the mechanism controlling this feature, I felt, was a little too complicated. The door cannot be raised unless the cover is retracted as there are sensors talking to each other to prevemt this happening, which is a great safety feature. The problem is the catch that holds the cover on the right-hand wall of the trailer to trigger the sensor to tell the door to open. It isn’t wide enough to catch the retracting cover perfectly every time and, as a result, can be a little tedious. This isn’t a deal breaker or a huge problem and, to be fair, some skilful swings with a well-appointed hammer will be sure to fix the problem — although, like I said, there must be a better way.

Cargo

As I mentioned earlier, the Cargo concept is relatively new in machinery circles and given the versatility, could save some contractors thousands but, like most things, it will not suit everybody.

Our test machine also had the PTO gearbox etc., which wasn’t actually used for this specific body but, depending on the body placed on the chassis, you can use the PTO for the pump of the slurry tank, the tipping pump of the tip trailer, the beaters of your solid muck spreader, or (if fitted) the shredding beaters of the Silo Space body we tested. If you have the tip trailer body, the chassis will have to be fitted with the same five-stage ram that was on the Trans KTP I tested last month, giving the same tipping angle and stability. If you have the slurry tanker body this can be fitted with rear linkage to support either the dribble bar applicator or the disc direct injection system.

Cargo axles and suspension

The rollover bogie axle is fitted on the standard Silo Space trailer, while on the Cargo spec machines they are all fitted with a drawbar featuring hydro-pneumatic suspension and hydraulic suspension on the axles. The combination of hydraulic rams and nitrogen ball dampers offers a much more comfortable ride and has the added ability to change the slope of the tanker for faster unloading if you have this set up.

This machine also has a free steering rear axle with hydraulic locking, although like most things Joskin, you can get almost any setup in terms of steering and ball and spoon couplings, aiding steering, and any tyre configuration you could possibly dream of.

Verdict

Like I said earlier, this concept is excellent and the cost savings can be significant but it will suit a select few. If you want to go for a singular machine — for example, a Silo Space or a slurry tanker — and that is all you can ever see your business needing, then save your money and don’t go down the Cargo route. However, if you can see expansion in years to come, but only need one machine now, then the Cargo is the machine to future proof your business and save you money in the long run.

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Photography: Jaiden Drought

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