FARGO, N.D. — Jay Mercil had to tighten up his thinking cap two years ago when Ron Sylte ordered a 3,100 gallon sprayer with a 150 foot boom.
Mercil, who co-owns Sprayflex in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, said his family has built truck style sprayers since the late 1990s, and Sylte has been buying their truck sprayers since the first one rolled out of the shop.
“But we had never tackled anything this big,” he said.
“Our biggest sprayer up until then had been the 120 foot model with a 2,000 gallon tank and single rear axle. It’s a regular item in our product line.”
Sylte had just bought one of the Sprayflex 120 foot, single-axle truck sprayers with a 2,000 gallon tank.
“But 120 feet wasn’t big enough. Ron wanted to cover more acres per day and get out of each field as fast as possible so he can get on to the next one, ” said Mercil.
Custom building the one-off giant sprayer in time for spring spraying was a challenge, he added.
Mercil said there are critical factors to consider when building a 150 foot boom and a 3,100 gallon tank. The water alone weighs 26,000 pounds.
“You have to look at the leverage factors associated with such a big boom: how will it react to things like bounce and turning? You don’t just build things bigger,” he said.
“We didn’t go to school for engineering. We’ve been building sprayers long enough that now we can just figure these things out for ourselves. Our whole background is building bigger and better sprayers. That’s just what we do.”
The company was known as Mar-flex when it was started by Mercil’s father, but Mercil and his brother changed the name to Sprayflex when they took it over in 2010.
International trucks have been the basis of their sprayers since day one. Mercil feels International has the strongest chassis, with frame wall thickness of 7/16 inch.
They started Sylte’s project with a new International powered by the standard 330 horsepower Maxforce diesel. Mercil figured the truck would be shy on power with that engine, so they increased it to 390 h.p.
They installed a heavier transmission because of the extra power and payload, stretched the frame by 12 feet and installed twin screw differentials. The first differential stays in the normal location and the second differential is 10 feet back.
The 150 foot boom uses the same unique box design employed on the smaller Sprayflex aluminum booms. The formed boxes bolt together to form a light weight, rigid arm.
Sylte took delivery in mid-April, just in time for spring spraying. The sprayer worked well throughout the 2012 season, racking up 25,000 acres.
However, he had trouble matching the unit’s 150 foot spray swath to his quarter section fields in a manner that didn’t result in wasted partial half-mile passes as he finished the fields. So the next step for the Sprayflex team will be to build the 165 foot sprayer that Sylte wants for this coming spring.
Mercil said many producers don’t understand that a truck sprayer can carry a bigger payload and handle bigger booms because the machine is lighter than a high wheel sprayer.
This weight factor translates into less compaction in susceptible soils.
The twin screw configuration further aids in distributing the load over a larger area.
The twin screw setup is outfitted with lockers and combined with the mechanical driveline it helps keep the machine from burying itself in the mud.
Mercil said the price tag for a new sprayer like the one they custom built for Sylte would sell for about $325,000.
For more information, contact Jay Mercil at 701-360-3544 or visit www.sprayflexsprayers.com.