Ferobide takes the bite out of deep till

The opener on the right  was hard surfaced on the nose and wings ran for 160 acres, was hard surfaced again and after 160 acres is too worn to fix, as the tip no longer digs into the soil and wings are worn thin. At left, Ferobide tiles have protected the wings and nose for 1,500 acres.  |   Huber Ag Equipment

Farmers loose 90 percent of their expensive tungsten carbide tools due to wear of the supporting steel shanks

Tungsten carbide cultivation points and associated wear parts fall off mounting shanks as if falling off is the only reason they were manufactured and installed to begin with.

Farmers typically loose 90 percent of their expensive tungsten carbide soil-engaging parts because the supporting steel fails, according to Tenmat Advanced Materials of the United Kingdom. All those tips are out somewhere on your fields.

If tungsten and carbide were essential micro-nutrients, it wouldn’t be so bad. All those broken tips in the soil would serve a purpose. But instead it’s a big cost in terms of money and wasted time replacing tips.

Producers are doing more ripping and deep tillage as awareness grows of the negative impact compaction has on crop performance. Soil-engaging wear parts become an ever more important part of the farm financial picture.

For years, manufacturers and farmers employed the easier yet slower process using standard hardface welding wire. However the resulting soil engaging tool was not abrasion resistant.

Over the decades, metallurgists in the U.K. applied their talents to develop soil-engaging tungsten carbide alloy wear parts with protection that exceeds standard hardened steel. Tungsten carbide alloy became the optimum material for preventing wear on cultivation points and associated wearing parts.

After 220 acres, the hard surfaced nose tip is worn, prompting the operator to add weight trying to keep the tool working in the ground. | Huber Ag Equipment photo

Initially, the abrasion-resistant plates were fastened to the shank using a specialized brazing process requiring expensive equipment. However, when brazing tungsten carbide, the hardened steel carrier needs to be heated, causing it to lose much of its previous hardness. The steel is softened by extensive brazing.

Tungsten carbide is highly wear-resistant. Therefore the path of least resistance through the soil results in the supporting steel body to wear away much more rapidly than the tungsten carbide. This results in premature failure through wear and breakage of the supporting steel.

Almost every user became frustrated because they were throwing away 90 percent of the expensive tungsten carbide.

The supporting steel of the cultivation point wears in different ways on each farm. Some fail due to side wear, some wear on the face of the tine, some wear below the tine.

Only the farmer knows the right place to add tungsten carbide. But too many of those plates were being lost each year because of the application process.

That changed four years ago when Tenmat introduced Western Canada to Ferobide. Ferobide is a tungsten carbide plate that any farmer can install with conventional welding equipment. The tiles are highly resistant to abrasion and they stay put once they’re welded to their shank using normal rods or wire.

These tungsten-carbide steel composite tiles have similar wear rates to the brazed tungsten carbide tiles, but the farmer can weld them on exactly where he sees wear happening. The welding of composite tungsten tiles to complement the brazed tungsten carbide point tiles has been proven over three seasons in Western Canada.

It appears that Tenmat Ferobide tiles may have the potential for a farmer to get three to five times the working life from tungsten carbide points.

Huber Ag Equipment in Coronation, Alta., is the Canadian distributer for the Ferobide plates.

A close-up view of the ferobide shield on the wing of this ripper tool shows how it protects it from wear through soil engagement. | Huber Ag Equipment photo

In a phone interview, Marlin Huber said Tenmat Advanced Materials is a world leader in specialty alloys. Tenmat began shipping plates to Huber four years ago. In that time, Huber says, farmers who have installed the plates say the real-world wear is as good as the company’s claims.

When asked what the specific ingredients are in the plates, Huber replied, “When the factory rep was over here from England, all he’d say is that it’s tungsten and carbide and dragon’s blood. He wouldn’t give any secrets.”

Huber says there are different thicknesses and different face measurements so a farmer can buy just what he needs for his own machine. But the alloy is the same for all the tiles.

Available thicknesses are four, six or eight millimetres. Surface sizes start small at four by eight mil. Then all the way up to 10 by 25 mil. The entire inventory is on their website. Prices range from eight dollars for the smallest tiles up to $30 for the biggest tiles.

“You apply them with your MIG wire or 718 rod. If it’s on the leading edge, the cutting edge, you’re going to want to stick it down so you can weld it on the backside. That’s because your welds are going to wear off before anything else. Everything wears out eventually, but the wear characteristics of this Ferobide are just amazing.

“It’s very strong. A chromium carbide tip is brittle. Take a hunk of that and drop it on the concrete and it shatters. That’s what a lot of the cultivator manufacturers put on their tips. As for this tungsten carbide, I have never broken one yet in four years. I’ve had guys talking to me about putting the tiles on cultivator shovels, but I think that’s too much surface area.

“For subsoiler tips, you can weld on $40 worth of these tiles and quadruple the lifespan. Shilo Farms over at Brandon subsoils about 3,000 acres a year. They had been getting barely a hundred acres on a set of points. About 200 acres with hard facing. Then they welded on these Ferobide tiles and got over 1,000 acres.”

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