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The Problem with Clipper® Wire Hooks

Why do I have so many problems with my Clipper® wire hooks?

We often hear complaints about the performance and longevity of Clipper® Wire Hook fasteners from hay producers. While there are much stronger, longer lasting baler belt fasteners on the market today, we believe the wire hook fasteners are not as bad as some people may think. In many cases, we think it is your best option on your baler. Here’s why…

Your baler was designed to use Clipper® Wire Hooks

Your baler’s design and development was based on the use of a particular type of belt with a particular type of fastener. When you change the belt type or fastener type, you may be inadvertently trading in one problem for another. Often times the problems producers may be experiencing with wire hooks can be solved with some troubleshooting.

Clipper Wire HooksClipper on AG Belt Baler BeltClipper Labels

So, why are you having so many problems with the wire hooks failing if your baler was designed to use them? Here are some of the most common problems we encounter:

Incorrect hook size:

Not just any hook will do. Some hooks reach further back on the belt giving it more holding power. In other cases, your roller diameters could be small enough that this hook reach can become a problem. You want to make sure you select the hook size that is appropriate for your baler and your baler belt.

Belt ends not skived/squared correctly:

Preparing the belt ends prior to installation is an important part of the installation process. If your belt has some sort of tread or profile on the top cover, it will need to be removed in a process known as skiving. Too much material will prevent the hook legs from being clinched parallel.

Belt ends not being square will cause your belts to mistrack or “walk” from side to side. This will wear the belt edges and increase the likelihood of your splice hanging up on a belt guide or walking on top of neighboring belts.

Improper belt lengths:

If your baler belts have been shortened enough they will produce smaller bales. This can lead to producer’s overfilling the chamber beyond the belts’ capacity. This typically leads to the fasteners pulling out and the splice or splices failing.

Another source of splice failure is when all your belt lengths should be the same but are not. A significant enough difference in length will either cause splice failure in the shorter belts or will cause longer belts to mistrack.

Connecting pin replacement:

Regular belt maintenance can be as easy as replacing the connecting pins on a regular basis. Use only nylon covered cable for replacement pins. When the pins are not replaced regularly the hooks will wear through the nylon covering and abrade on the stainless steel cable. The nylon covering will collect grit from the field and begin wearing your hooks.

Too much tension:

Over tensioning your belts will cause splices to fail. It may be that your belts are too short, you’re overfilling the bale chamber, or you are baling silage with a baler not designed for silage baling.

Aged baler belts:

Belts can become aged based on time or based on their working and storage environment. Many times it is both factors that leads to a reduction in fastener retention. The fabric plies in your baler belt are what give fasteners their holding power. The plies in aged belts begin to break down and are not as strong as they were when new.

Baler maintenance issues:

Proper maintenance on your baler is essential to protecting your belts and your baler. Replacing connecting pins often, keeping bearings and rollers in good shape, and avoiding debris in the field can dramatically increase the life of your splices and your belts.

Incorrect installation: Wire hooks that are not installed properly are much more likely to fail prematurely.

Installing your hooks

Here is what you want to look for when installing your hooks

  1. Hook legs are parallel. Loop should not have a light bulb shape
  2. Hook points slightly penetrate opposite side of belt (.005"-.015")
  3. 1/3 - 1/2 of the wire diameter is embedded into the belt
  4. When installed, the 'knuckles' of the hook should not be higher than the legs

Good Clinch, Over Clinch, Under ClinchGood Clinch: Hook legs are parallel, half of the wire diameter is embedded into belt, and hook points have penetrated through belt.

Over Clinch: Functional, but not an optimal splice. Try to avoid over clinching in the future.

Under Clinch: If belt is still in lacer, embed fasteners further. If belt is out of the lacer, reinsert splice in the hook retainer/face strip, and embed fasteners further.

Proper installation:

  1. Clipper Direction of Travel (One Less Hook)Leave 1/4" on each edge of belt unlaced. This guards against end hooks being pulled out.
  2. Use one more hook on leading end than on trailing end.
  3. Chamfer trailing end.
  4. Hooks should be uniformly embedded across the entire width of the splice.
  5. Edges of the belt should line up when the laced belt ends are connected.
  6. Run fingernail across loops of splice; loops should not move.