Attempting to lift the mixing screw out of the mixer with the skid loader.
Attempting to lift the mixing screw out of the mixer with the skid loader.

From Ethan:

            This week was pretty uneventful once again, all but one day I should say. Monday was a long one!

I was doing online school in the morning and my dad just left to go out to finish chores after breakfast. Normally after I’m done with school in the morning I go help finish up, but in the middle of class I got a phone call from Dad. He needed me to help him get the TMR mixer going because the mixing screw inside wouldn’t spin. I went up there and we tried turning it on a few times and spinning it by hand but we couldn’t even get it to spin a tiny bit. First, we thought something got jammed inside the mixer under the screw, but of course it was full of 1,300 lbs of hay, corn, and silage. So, I had to pitch it all out of there into the skid loader bucket, while my dad was on the phone with the mixer guy.

After I got it all cleaned out I looked for anything wrong, but I didn’t see anything wrong with it. Then we narrowed down the issue to being inside the gear box that connects the shaft to the screw. Dad and I decided that if we unscrew the mixing screw from the shaft that we could tell what the issue was. If we take out the bolts and the shaft spins, that means the gear box is fine or if we take out the mixing screw bolts and it still doesn’t spin, then that means the problem is the gear box.

After an hour of struggling with the rusty bolts we finally got them out. We had a short sigh of relief when the shaft finally spun, so we knew it wasn’t the gear box. Then we were sure there was something jammed under the mixing screw. There isn’t any thing holding the mixing screw on so it should lift right up out of there easy, right? Wrong. We hooked up a chain to it and lifted on it with the skid loader. It picked up the whole mixer by the mixing screw that wasn’t even bolted down! At this point we had no more ideas. We tried beating on it, putting a bar in it and trying to spin it. Nothing worked. We needed to stop and think of what could be wrong. Because we still needed to feed the cows, we took a break from working on the TMR and fed cows. We did it all by hand. We wheeled out silage, then corn, then protein, then lastly the hay.

After feeding cows, we tried a bunch of our new ideas but none worked. Eventually we thought of the best idea, to put a bottle jack underneath the mixing screw. At that point it was either going to pop out or break. We cranked and cranked on that jack until it got as tight as it was going to get. Finally, it popped off with a loud bang. Turns out the mixing screw was packed full of frozen silage. It’s still weird that the shaft spun in there, but hey, at least its fixed now!  Fingers crossed that it doesn’t happen again, but at least we’ll know what’s wrong with it!