Taege Feed-Out Wagon
Jaiden Drought heads south to learn a thing or two about Taege Manufacturing’s feed-out wagon, discovering it’s built tough and is fit to handle even Southland’s harsh conditions.
It all gets a bit confusing this whole Taege business, as there are all sorts of machines out there branded with the Taege badge, but constructed and run by three different companies, two brothers and a brother-in-law. Confused? Understandable if you are, but I can assure you it's simpler than it sounds as there is no overlap of machines; they all stick to their key products and no matter what outfit you purchase from, my observations are that the build quality will always be the same – excellent.
So for this month's test I went south to Gore, where of course I gave many of the locals an update on the travel itinerary of the shield, and after driving around a fair bit of the countryside I decided it's not a bad place to visit after all.
The "Destination Gore"; website presents a much more upbeat sales pitch on the place, with, and I quote, "Altitude and soil type are variable but the climate is generally moist"; and among other things, it refers to the area as "the gateway to the south and the adventure capital";. A tad optimistic maybe, but to be fair they have good taste in machinery, if the McCall family who recently bought a 14m3 Taege wagon are anything to go by.
My chaperone for this test was "Slim", Taege Manufacturing's travelling salesman/technical support/assembly chief/ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, and is the epitome of a jack-of-all-trades. His work ute is literally a travelling workshop and he insanely tries to cover Christchurch to Bluff and everywhere in between every month, but to be honest, if I was Graham Taege and I had a man like him on the ground I would try and have him everywhere at once, too.
Slim and I made our way to the McCalls' farm in Tapanui, where they milk 650 cows, and like most South Island farmers, they demand a lot from their gear.
The McCalls 14m3 Taege Manufacturing wagon replaces a three-year-old wagon of another brand, which by the looks had a very hard life. The McCalls have great expectations for the Taege and are hoping it will last considerably longer. Looking at the construction, I would say it's a better bet than putting money on any of the donkeys running at the local New Year's Day races.
One thing I have learnt from testing some of the Taege machinery is that not only are they built strong but cleverly, too, which is the reason people either buy another Taege or get their existing one rebuilt because, apart from wearing parts, they just never seem to deteriorate.
Looking at Adam McCall's old (three-year-old) wagon, deterioration has definitely hit it hard; with the benefit of hindsight, the McCalls now wish they had stumped up and bought the slightly larger Taege SF1400 wagon three years earlier.
Six months ago they had had enough of straightening floor bars and jumping chains back on so they bit the bullet and traded to a Taege and have not looked back.
Rather than bore you to tears over 50mm shaft this and gusset that, I will just give you a brief overview of the feeding components, build spec and quality of the machine, and if you are still reading with bated breath (highly unlikely) I would encourage you to have a look at one yourself – if you are in the side-feed wagon market, these machines should not be overlooked.
Wide side-feed belt
The SF1400 had the standard (although massive) 1200mm belt. However, a 1400mm belt can be spec'd if the customer requires. The reason for having such a large belt and discharge hole is because the belt needs to be able to clear the material as soon as it hits it, as the elevator chains are continuously bringing more feed over and if it is not cleared it either sucks it back around the chains or gets stuck. When dealing with Freeman 4x3 bale biscuits, it is not a fun task to have to clear the belt.
The wide belts' ability to clear such a large amount of material allows for faster ground speeds to achieve the desired feed pattern, which in turn means it doesn’t take an eternity to clear the wagon's contents.
The belt has a tracking strip down the centre to make it run straight and true, which allows the sides of the rollers to be tapered to stop the build up of silage wearing both the bearing and the mat. The side-feed belt and drive motor are both well protected, front and rear, from the obstacles that mysteriously seem to jump out and hit the wagon while your workers are driving.
Design of the floor chains
The McCalls' SF1400 had been up spec'd to the four-chain design (three-chain is standard) simply to give them more strength. This lowered the risk of breakdowns as the wagon is on the move for majority of the year. The floor chains are driven by a heavy-duty gearbox via hydraulic motor through a pressure-compensated control block. This gives priority to the elevator, with a sequencing valve that controls flow to the floor. This allows the floor speed to remain constant and the floor will not speed up as the load is fed. The valve also allows the floor to pause if the load is putting too much pressure on the elevator. Once the pressure drops, the floor continues.
The floor bars are not joined with your standard chain links: the bars are bolted over top of the chain but still sit firmly on top of the tongue and groove floor, so no feed has the chance to build up under the bar. This would cause significantly increased drag. The beauty of this design is that the weight is pulled directly through the middle of the chain at all times, reducing the tendency to jump the cog from sideways pressure, and with four chains the likelihood of these coming off, or even breaking for that matter, are very remote. Slim reckons the boys at Taege have only seen two lots of broken chains from their wagons back in the workshop, one set was from ejecting posts and the other firewood, so I guess it’s fair to say if you use them for just silage chances you are in for limited downtime from the Taege.
The elevator chains are built in a similar fashion, with the bar-over-chain design, for the same reason – all the weight is centred in the middle and doesn’t pull one way or the other. The elevator has a chain drive reduction from the hydraulic motor to the elevator shaft, allowing for more torque over direct hydraulic mounting to the shaft. Also on the elevator, the bearings are mounted onto 12mm plate. This is incredibly strong but it needs to be because of the clever drive so providing the tractor has enough hydraulic power, it will haul just about anything over the elevator – it is built that tough.
The stainless steel sides are held on with one-piece pressed channel steel so there are no welded corners, which is the most common place for the sides to crack and break from rough tracks when the wagon is empty. The uprights are then gusseted to the floor cross member. Combined with the heavy channel top rail, this ensures a solid compartment. The tail door is bolted and R-clipped on, which stops it bouncing open on rough tracks, but it can just be held with the R-clip if ejecting stuff (not posts of firewood) out the back. Also, for maize users, the tail door can be made with a finer mesh than on the test wagon to contain all the finer material.
Axles and tyres
Supporting the tare weight of 4220kg (of which roughly 20 percent or 900kg is transferred onto the drawbar), this particular wagon is on a tandem-axle, with 70mm hubs and stubs. The McCall's up-spec'd the tyres so it's sitting on 15/70x18's. They also opted for the mudguards with mud flaps and LED lights (options), as they are often carting down the road so safety is key.
The bigger tyres also help the wagon travel smoothly and are easy to drive, allowing the family to get away with the machine being on their smaller 90hp tractor. As the wagons originate from Canterbury, the walking beams have plenty of travel so they can ride up and over the border dyke irrigation mounds no troubles.
Although our test wagon wasn't spec'd with the scale option (as they had scales on the loader), Taege offers this in the form of a two-chassis with four-point weighing system. Two weigh cells are located behind the axle and the other two are under the front cross member. The benefit of running two chassis is the minimised amount of unsupported drawbar: if the area behind the feed mat to the tractor is unsupported, there is a lot of flexing and, in time, it will give way. The disadvantage of running the two-chassis system is it adds additional weight, cost and loading height to the machine. However, being able to know exactly how much your stock is being fed or splitting the feed for different herds cab be invaluable.
The beauty of these machines is not only their excellent build but also the clever little design ideas combined with strength that make them such reliable pieces of machinery to own. Graham Taege is often the one to finish the buffing and grinding before painting, to ensure there are no imperfections. This attention to detail really shows in the finished product. Another key benefit of dealing with a small company is that it doesn’t have the ability to carry large amounts of stock, which means it can practically custom build your machine with the specific features you want. Sure there may be a small wait but it will be well worth it in the long run.
- Huge, wide belt for easy clearing of material
- Clear view of the elevator chains
- Clever and strong elevator drive system
- Excellent build quality
- Side-feed belt is well protected
- Four-chain floor design reduces break downs
- Uprights are one piece with gussets for extra strength
- Quick-hitch stand was too low
- Loading height was about the tractor's limit. If the wagon was equipped with double chassis scales, the load height would also increase.