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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My NH488 is just too nice of a machine and mows too nice for me to justify going to a discbine with all the more acres I cut. It's basically in almost-new condition. Right now it has standard guards that are in perfect adjustment, and a new knife. It doesn't plug up too bad in first cutting but in finer, shorter second and third cut it plugs up more. I am first wondering if underserrated knives would help this instead of overserrated.

Second, I have read enough about stub guards that look like they'd make it a better mowing experience. I also hate leaving the mow-hawks in the field from not being able to mow over material already cut.

I can't find any kits for a conversion to stub guards for a 488 9' machine, short of going to Messick's and ordering everything individually, and Webb's doesn't have anything. I'd also like adjustable hold-downs.

I know this is obsolete tech to most of you, but is anybody aware of something like this anywhere?
 

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Jeff says you don't want to go to underserrated, well he didn't want to but can't tell you what to do ;) He bought a blade that was top serrated at a special price and when he learned what it was he took it back to swap for underserrated but it wasn't on special so he kept it. After using it he was convinced, never went back to others. Top serrated don't have to be sharpened.

Definitely a stub guard fan, not going back to regular ones. Have IH 1190 has New Holland guards with John Deere adjustable hold downs on part of it. I can get you the JD # if you want to compare. Most don't use hold downs on first 2 or 3 sickles on the knife end. We put A&I ones on the IH 8840 when we got it.

Also, strongly recommend bolt on sickles so you don't have to pull blade out to change.

We've always done the individual pieces, don't recall any kits.

Shelia
 

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Use good quality top serrated sections and NH guards. NH guards are strong and they are narrow and that makes a big difference. If the corner of the guard under the section gets rounded the sickle won't cut as well, then it's time for new guards or if you are a tightwad or in a hurry take a hand grinder to the side of the guard and square that corner up again. My brother ran NH sickle machines for nearly 2 decades and figured out what worked and what didn't.
 
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Don't use an under serrated section as you'll have to sharpen those. I agree with Gearclash about using NH guards. They are narrower and do a better job. Our Rowse mowers with IH heads come with IH guards which are wider, when the IH guards are shot we put NH ones on as it cuts better and less plugging if the sickle gets a little dull.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Use good quality top serrated sections and NH guards. NH guards are strong and they are narrow and that makes a big difference. If the corner of the guard under the section gets rounded the sickle won't cut as well, then it's time for new guards or if you are a tightwad or in a hurry take a hand grinder to the side of the guard and square that corner up again. My brother ran NH sickle machines for nearly 2 decades and figured out what worked and what didn't.
Are you talking about the standard guards or stubs? My mower currently has NH standard guards on them. I would be surprised if this mower has seen 300 acres.
 

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Just an FYI, you can get the stub guards from Shoup Parts for a fair bit cheaper than NH. I've cut a hundreds of acres with Shoup guards and sickles and seem to last just as long as NH. They usually have a discount around the time of the National Farm Machinery Show in February as well.

They don't have the adjustable hold downs though that I could find.
 
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Are you talking about the standard guards or stubs? My mower currently has NH standard guards on them. I would be surprised if this mower has seen 300 acres.
Standard guards. My brother was convinced that having that tab on top of the guard aided cutting. He cut everything from alfalfa to bluegrass.
 

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The top plate does help with cutting cleanly, but you have to get the hay to the ledger surface before the hay can be cut. Since there is nothing in front of the section with stub guards, then hay can get where it needs to be. The down side to stub guards is you need to maintain minimal clearance between the guard, section, and hold down clip to get a clean cut.

48 years ago when we started selling NH, the haybine was a godsend when compared to a mowing machine. That lasted to the late 70's when the haybines could no longer handle the increased tonnage being grown on the hay fields. There was wet undergrowth that would plug the front of the guards. Installing stub guards brought new life to the haybine for a few years, but it was short lived. By the mid 80's the ever increasing tonnage brought the haybine to it's knees. The cutterbar could cut the hay, but you could not get rid of the crop fast enough to prevent roll wrapping, even when crawling ground speed wise. Enter the discbine and we have not looked back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Just an FYI, you can get the stub guards from Shoup Parts for a fair bit cheaper than NH. I've cut a hundreds of acres with Shoup guards and sickles and seem to last just as long as NH. They usually have a discount around the time of the National Farm Machinery Show in February as well.

They don't have the adjustable hold downs though that I could find.
For some reason I missed the stub guards there the first time I was looking for them. They just had a sale a few weeks ago I think that I missed out on.

They do have these adjustable hold clips, they look fairly universal:

https://www.shoupparts.com/SH866780-Adjustable-Hold-Down-Kit
 

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Questions on the stub guards:

  1. high arch or low arch guard clip (I'm using bolt on sickle sections)?
  2. Is there a spacer AND shim that goes beneath each arch? How do I know what size/how many shims to buy?
  3. Will these linked adjustable hold downs work?
  4. Should I reuse spacers and shims from my existing hold downs?
  5. How are the guard clips adjusted (or are they even?)
  6. What about the guards for the end knives? Are these any different?

https://www.shoupparts.com/SH866780-Adjustable-Hold-Down-Kit
 

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I started copy/paste of the combination we use but figured somebody would see it on the internet and not totally understand and create havoc in the forage world :).

If you want to give Jeff a call sometime he can tell better than I can type it out.

Shelia
 

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Second, I have read enough about stub guards that look like they'd make it a better mowing experience. I also hate leaving the mow-hawks in the field from not being able to mow over material already cut.

I'm going to go out on a limb here, it's been a long time since I had a sickle bar machine, but if my memory serves me correct here a couple of thoughts (remember I'm older and the limb is ????).

  • I would always try to cut out of a point if possible verses into (I know not always possible).
  • I would have my rear shields in some so that I would have some 'bare' area to be able to run the cutter bar without re-cutting the hay. If I would have had my tedder then, I would have made my swath as narrow as possible, but didn't. Hadn't discovered HT and the wisdom located here, yet. ;)
  • I would take less than a full swath in places so I didn't end up with a narrow strip (eg wanted 3'-4' of standing hay, so the previous round I would take only 6'-7' verses a most 9' cut, leaving a 1' un-cut hay, (I know clear as mud).
  • I would shift down to 1st gear verses 4th gear when cutting in or out of these narrow areas (using a Ford 5000, so could be similar gear speed to your tractor, maybe less than 0.8 MPH).
  • Now to go way out on the limb, IIRC, you can adjust both the reel location and the reel speed (which most folks probably don't), for different crop type/amounts. I know I didn't adjust mine but maybe once. (I had a NH479 and a NH1430 machines, so yours's could be different).

Doing these things, reduced my plugging a lot and I was cutting hay at 6am with lots of dew most of the time (day job requirement it seemed). My worst plugging would be old dead OG sticking on the end of the guards, if I cut too fast with wet hay (heavy dew). :angry:

Go ahead and push me off the limb now. :eek:

Larry

PS I don't know if you have woodchucks in your neck of the woods or not, but wouldn't this be a consideration?
 
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Questions on the stub guards:

  1. high arch or low arch guard clip (I'm using bolt on sickle sections)?
  2. Is there a spacer AND shim that goes beneath each arch? How do I know what size/how many shims to buy?
  3. Will these linked adjustable hold downs work?
  4. Should I reuse spacers and shims from my existing hold downs?
  5. How are the guard clips adjusted (or are they even?)
  6. What about the guards for the end knives? Are these any different?

https://www.shoupparts.com/SH866780-Adjustable-Hold-Down-Kit
The way the NH parts are is there is an end guard for each end, half stub and half regular guard. The hold down clips straddle two guards starting at the end guard. On the NH setup, you have 3 higher hold down clips at the knife end of the cutterbar so the knife head clears. Shimming hold down clips is a trial and error job. You will also need longer bolts since all the guard bolts will have a hold down clip.Here is how I setup the installation procedure.

I install the end guards using the one bolt outside of the cutting area, the hex head bolts.

I install one guard in the center without a hold down clip. I tighten these bolts.

Either install a new knife, or, a knife with new sections. Trying to shim the hold downs with old sections will make you go to church after you are done. It may not look it, but some sections will be bent up or down at the tip. or worn so when you shim the hold downs to an old knife section you will not be able to install a new knife or section because the gap between the guard and hold down will be to narrow. Makes it very difficult to pull or install a new knife.

Install the knife and in essence the knife is now supported by three guards.

Now loosely install the rest of the guards and hold down clips. I usually install two thick and one this shim under each hold down clip. The first three high clips will require more shims. Do not tighten at this time.

If you have a knife where the bushing can be slid up and down in the knife head, loosen the clamp bolt and raise or lower the knife head until the first section rests on the ledger surface of the first guard. Tighten the clamp bolt. NOW, since the bushing has been tightened at the end of the knife stroke, move the knife back to the center of the knife stroke and loosen the 1/2" bolt enough for the bushing to reposition itself and then tighten the grade 8 nut to 85 ftlbs.

I start at the knife head end and tighten the first hold down clip. I then see if there is a gap between the section, guard or hold down. If there is a gap, remove shims. You will find that one tip of the hold down will be tight and the other tip loose. In those situations, I cut the shim or shims and shim each hold down tip individually. The whole stack does not need to be cut only enough to do the job. You may end up with two complete thick shims, two complete thins shims and 1 cut thin shim on that hold down clip mounting as an example.

After the first hold down is shimmed, then go to the next hold down in line and just work your way down the line.

A good way to tell if you have shimmed the hold downs too tight is to grab the reel at the bottom, where you will be working, and pull towards you. Pulling the reel towards you will cause the knife to move back and forth. Watch the tips of the hold down clips. If the tips move up and down as the section passes, then the clips are too tight.at that tip. You can also grab the tip of the section and try and pull and push the knife front to back. If the section can be move back and forth, you are not too tight.

When tightening or loosening the guard bolt nuts with a wrench, always pull towards you. That way if the wrench slips your arm is being pulled away from the section. A slip in the wrong direction will send you to the emergency room.

Some times the hold down clips just will not adjust or will take a pile of shims. The NH hold down clips are very hard and will not bend easily on the machine. I take them off and clamp the base in a vice and hit the tips with a heavy hammer. You can slightly raise the hold down clip by hitting the top of the hump. Impossible to lower the tip with a hammer when installed on the machine..

You will find that on some the guard tip may be low or high. I made a tool to pull the guard back up or down into position. I believe I have this in my NH repair thread under tools I have made. Did not check, but I think it is there.

What you are attempting to do, is not force the knife in a position it does not want to go. Before installing the knife, I place the knife on the floor and point the sections up and look down the knife. If there are any bows, I lay the knife flat and hit the high area with a hammer to straighten the knife.

Sound like a lot of work, but once shimmed correctly, the machine will cut as well as a standard guard machine.

It is a good idea if you have mud build up on the cutter bar to remove the mud before it becomes concrete. The mud will get under the hump of the clips and harden around the rivets or bolts.

The trick to doing the job is patience. Do it right the first time.

https://www.haytalk.com/forums/index.php?app=core&module=attach&section=attach&attach_id=42497

.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I started copy/paste of the combination we use but figured somebody would see it on the internet and not totally understand and create havoc in the forage world :).

If you want to give Jeff a call sometime he can tell better than I can type it out.

Shelia
I was just thinking that. I'll give you guys a ring.
 

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Thank you as always for this wealth of information. You don't have to--but you do--take the time to write out a very long and detailed explanation. Everything was crystal clear and makes a lot of sense.

Because each guard has clips, the hold down clips like you have on machines with standard guards are now required then?
 

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Sorry to bring this up from long ago, but I am in the same position. 488 going from standard to stubs. I just can’t get the wet downed grass cut with the standard guards. Any tips from your conversion?
 

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Sorry to bring this up from long ago, but I am in the same position. 488 going from standard to stubs. I just can’t get the wet downed grass cut with the standard guards. Any tips from your conversion?
Hayjosh can give you specifics from his conversion; if you want any details from ours, message me and I'll give you Jeff's number (see #12 above)

Shelia
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Sorry to bring this up from long ago, but I am in the same position. 488 going from standard to stubs. I just can’t get the wet downed grass cut with the standard guards. Any tips from your conversion?
Here you go. My mower has been absolutely flawless with the stubs. I think this is my third season with them now. It's such a different machine and mowing is no longer frustrating.

 

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Awesome, thanks. I have them on my 477 and my new to me 488 has standard guards. This is my first, and probably last, experience with standard guards. Picked up the new hold downs, stub guards and 2” bolts today. Crossing my fingers that the stack of shims on my shelf is going to get me down the road on this project. I fought the 488 for two afternoons, so I pulled the 477 out to get the field done and cleaned up. The manual calls for 3 high and 15 standard hold downs. The standard NH versions are plenty tall enough to cover the knife head end of the sickle bar - 18 total - plus the half hold down for the right side. 17 of the stubs, 1 left and 1 right.

Looking forward to this making the 488 perform the way it should.
 
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