Our greens harvester (by Jonathan Dysinger of Farmers Friend, LLC and sold through Johnny’s Selected Seeds) cut almost 4,000 lbs of greens this season. By October it desperately needed some love. When I took it apart to thoroughly clean, I noted all the bits that looked worn and needed replacing, and contacted Johnny’s and Jonathan for help. The following photos and suggestions are considered yearly maintenance on the harvester, especially when used frequently.
Jonathan is working on a new design – 2.0 is lighter (by a 1.5 lbs!) and simpler. I look forward to seeing it in action and trying it out. Keep an eye on Farmer’s Friend and like Jonathan’s FaceBook page for updates.
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HANDLE / ROLLER BAR
The first thing that started to slip this fall was the macramé roller. It would pop out of its holes and sit spinning on the shaft during harvesting. It was easily fixable (just pop it back in), but annoying when it happened three or four times each harvest day. The cause, it turns out, is not the roller itself, rather the harvester handle. Over time, the upright supports creep inward on the handle, making the space between them smaller, and allowing the roller to move in and out of its designated hole fairly easily. To keep the roller in place, all I needed to do was push those uprights back out to their proper position with good knock on the support while the protruding end of the handle rested on the work bench. Once the handle bar is flush with the outside of the support again, it’s recommended (by Jonathan) that you drill a hole through the support and insert a screw to hold the handle in place.
There are two discs that are supposed to be attached to the macramé brush, keeping it contained. They detached early on and have been loosely spinning around on the brush bar almost all season. They’re not detrimental to the harvester that way, but it’s an easy fix – super glue them back in place (Jonathan recommends JB Weld for a stronger hold).
Early this fall, our cutter started running rough. It sounded choppy (har har) instead of nice and smooth. The culprit was probably the cam bearing. Ours had lost the rubber ring in the middle of the bearing and was knocking back and forth on the cam. This is another easy (and cheap) fix. The cam bearing is on Johnny’s website for $10.
To replace, remove the 7 large screws on the bottom of the cutter, then gently pull the bottom down to expose the cam and cam bearing. The pin that the black cam roller sits on is loose and rests between the bottom of the cutter and the top piece, so be careful not to lose that. Undo the screw holding the bearing to its pin, and pull it off. The inner ring can get stuck on the pin – it’ll slip off with pliers and force. Replace the cam bearing by sliding the new on onto the pin and put everything back together.
BLACK CAM GUIDE
While you’re at it, replace the black plastic cam guide ($5 from Johnny’s). Ours had worn down to almost half its original size, another reason the machine was running roughly. Just pull the old one off, and put the new one on while you have the bottom of the cutter removed.
If your cam looks worn and stretched, replace it. I chose not to replace ours. The cams are expensive ($30) and while the entire thing will run smoother with a brand new one, I figure we can go another season without it. This is another replacement to be done while the bottom of the cutter is off and you’re replacing the cam guide and bearing.
Replacing the blades on the greens harvester is obviously advisable as needed. New blades are expensive ($65) and this is another replacement that we’ll live with for the next season or as long as we need to. Replacement instructions are in the booklet that comes with the cutter.
I’ve been sharpening our blades with an 8193 dremel grinding stone fitted into a cordless drill. Sharpening is simple but requires a light touch – these instructions are also in the booklet. Rotate the Lovejoy coupling until the blades are lined up perfectly. Fire up the drill on its highest speed setting and run the stone on each scallop of the serrated blade, at the approximate angle of the scallop. Use light pressure and grind until each scallop has a clean, sharp edge. Do the same for the bottom blade. It doesn’t take more than a couple seconds per edge. When you can feel small barbs on the flat side of the edge, you’re blade is sharp.
BLADE LOCKING PIN
Finally, the blade pin. It holds both blades in place on the left side of the harvester (if you’re looking at it from the front). This little guy got worn out by July and I replaced it with a pin and clip from the ag supply store. Not ideal, but functional.
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Click here for a review of the Quick Cut Greens Harvester from June 2013.