Scannell 12m3 universal feeder

By: Jaiden Drought, Photography by: Jaiden Drought


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Jaiden Drought spent some time in mid Canterbury recently, testing the impressive and very robust Scannell 12m3 universal feeder.

Scannell 12m3 universal feeder
Scannell 12m3 universal feeder

On a recent trip to mid Canterbury – the home of large-scale hydroponics (the centre-pivot type that is, not the 'Switched on Gardener' variety) – to test Scannell's universal feeder, it dawned on me that judging by the amount of steel used in the feeder, Scannell clearly didn't get the memo that steel prices have been going up recently. The good news for farmers is that this beast is not going to break, bend or twist. Honestly, it is a very simple machine and built like a tank – coincidentally, Scannell makes stuff for the army, too.

Apart from the amount of steel used in the 12m3 Scannell universal feeder, what's really noticeable is how massive it is. When I first saw it, I thought I was looking at the 20m3. Instead I was told it is apparently a 'real' 12 not a 'pretend' 12. When I compare this to the 12m3 McIntosh 800 wagon I also tested this month, dimensionally the McIntosh would sit inside this machine if the Scannell was 10cm wider, not just the tub either – I am talking about the drawbar and all.

The beauty of the 12m3 feeder is that it is built the same as the 20m3 but slightly narrower and shorter (in height, not length), with the end result being a bloody tough machine, although the tare weight is 3300kg so by the time it is fully loaded it is no featherweight.

BJ Scarlett is the company that actually manufactures the Scannell brand and why this is important is the fact that the company is comprised of industrial engineers. They make real tough stuff, like rubbish compactors, container handling equipment and recycle material sorters, which can withstand massive amounts of work or abuse, whatever way you look at it.

Why this is of significance to you is that the same methods and thinking are applied across the company's agricultural range. Engineers haven't just thrown more steel at the machine because they like welding. In fact, they have produced intelligent, high-tech machines that are strong and built to last.

The main dealer in the mid Canterbury region is Robert Wilson, who also coincidentally owns an engineering shop. If he thought he was going to clip the ticket both ways, his repair business will be waiting a long time to see these machines, as I've seen a 15-year-old mechanically-sound Scannell, with no cracks, that has never been touched with a welder. To be honest, it looks like it's been to the moon and back, which is really a true compliment to the company.

Maintenance

So, we know it's built tough but how effectively does it work? Well I am happy to report it works very well and not by coincidence either. The main attraction of these machines is their ease of use and limited maintenance requirements, which will be music to most farmers' ears. For the universal feeder (both the 12m3 and the 20m3) there are only eight grease nipples on the entire machine and better still they only need greasing once a month. But it doesn't stop there: the bottom roller on the side elevator is a simple piece of round pipe that the roller chain simply rides over and with just a top sprocket that goes in between the rollers as the top drive, this gives the chain its self-cleaning properties.

The axle looks like it could be the undercarriage of a 20 tonne digger, but aside from the actual strength of the walking beam itself, the pivot is line bored and fitted with bronze pivot bushes giving the machine its hard wearing and longevity characteristics. The axle pivot is also offset slightly allowing the front tyres to carry less weight to stop them digging in and sledging in real muddy conditions.

Wheel hubs are also fitted with shields as standard to protect seals from hay, twine and netwrap and simply allow no foreign particles in there to compromise the bearings seal resulting in fewer breakdowns particularly with long road carts.

Testing

During the test we fed a load of maize out for a local farmer and the overall performance of the machine was pleasing. To be fair, just about anything will feed maize but I did like the accuracy of the side elevator and it left a clean and tidy row well away from the wheels, so the feed wasn't run over. On a pad it will feed into bins, but for fine materials such as maize and PK really side feed wagons are a better alternative.

The joystick in the cab was easy to use and the rocker switch to turn the elevator on and off is key, especially if you are feeding beside the fence and come to a water trough for example. The other thing I liked is that the rear pusher is controlled straight off the tractor hydraulics allowing for unrestricted flow (and speed) with most modern tractors pumping in excess of 100L/min. This means that the pusher can be moving forward and because of the flat floor, the cross conveyor can be moving all at the same time giving you a constant stream of feed, allowing faster unloading and even distribution around the paddock.

Also, having a straight floor from the rear of the machine onto the cross conveyer means that bales can be loaded from the rear (with the folding tail door) and pushed forward by the bales with the loader, and because it is all one level, the bales don't topple over making feeding more difficult and harder on the machine. To aid in this form of loading, the stand has a bear claw at the front so that it digs in and allows you to push the bales forward without the wagon sliding all over the show if you only use one tractor.

Scales

Scales can be fitted to the machine which then is equipped with braces that are attached to the drawbar and the front of the axle so that the machine is not pulling against the load cells which reduces strain on the whole machine.

Most manufactures use round cells, but Scannell uses flat-plate cells from a company called SI-lodec New Zealand. This means they are easier and stronger to mount as the axle cells sit firmly between the walking beam and the chassis. The front cell is between the drawbar and the hitch to give an accurate reading either on the stand or on the tractor.

Verdict

This machine is built with simple, uncompromising strength and user-friendliness in mind, but by no means is it the cheapest machine on the market. However, one of my favourite sayings sums it up, really: 'quality remains long after price is forgotten' – and that is definitely true in this case.

Is it expensive? Yes. Is it cheaper than two wagons? Yes. There is your answer, and if you add feed-out ability and lifespan into the equation, it becomes a no brainer.

Likes

  • Large capacity means less loads
  • Heavy-duty construction
  • Level floor means no messy transfers
  • Large hydraulic pusher means you can have food moving while feeding to give a constant stream
  • Pusher run directly from SCV which means you can vary the flow rate from the tractor
  • Low loading height
  • Clear view of feed during the whole feed out process
  • Folding rear door to allow for rear loading
  • Lack of moving parts
  • Easy maintenance
  • Elevator swings under the cross conveyer when tilted to bring it closer to the feed

Dislikes

  • Large overhang at the rear which limits reach of loader for rear loading
  • Draw bar design means machine must be used on a hitch

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