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Equipment Hub: Actuator stalling

Mike Seckinger for Progressive Dairy Published on 17 April 2020

Note: This information applies specifically to the New Holland BR Series balers.

Actuator stalling can occur when inserting the duckbill or on retraction of the duckbill.



We will deal only with actuator stalling on retraction since the net would not start if the duckbill stalled on insertion. If the actuator stalled, determine in what part of the cycle the stalling occurred.

If the duckbill is fully inserted when the duckbill stalled, the duckbill is wedged in the frame. This is caused by a problem with the calibration of the duckbill potentiometer or manually extending the duckbill past the point the stop bolt contacts the frame. If the calibration is off, the actuator will try to force the duckbill farther after the duckbill stop bolt has contacted the frame. The duckbill will twist slightly in the frame and not retract.

To free the duckbill (Figure 1), hold the head of the bolt (No. 3) with a wrench so the bolt does not turn.

To free the duckbill

Take a second wrench and turn the lower (No. 2) nut toward the bolt head. Do not turn the top nut. Once the lower nut turns freely, the duckbill can be retracted. After the duckbill is retracted, turn the bottom nut back up against the angle, locking the bolt back in the bolt’s original position.


To calibrate the potentiometer, press and hold the open book button, below the on/off button, until the alarm sounds. There will be a 1 displayed on the left side of the screen. Press and release the open book button until 13 is displayed on the left of the screen. Extend the duckbill actuator until the stop bolt lightly contacts the frame. Press and hold the plus (+) button until the alarm sounds to calibrate the potentiometer.

If the actuator stalls after partially retracting, the most likely cause is: The tailgate was sensed to be opening. If the system sees the tailgate opening, even if momentarily, the system stops the movement of the duckbill. The solution is to move the tailgate sensor as close to the tailgate pin as possible. I try for around a 1/16-inch clearance when there is no bale in the chamber and the tailgate fully latched. To achieve this clearance on BR balers with a two-piece tailgate latch, you may need to lengthen the slots of the “Z”-shaped mounting bracket for more adjustment, and then you may even need to bend the bracket some. On BR balers with the one-piece tailgate latch, the sensor was bolted to a tab with slots. Loosen the screws and slide the sensor closer.

The tailgate latches should not be tight against the tailgate pin. There should be approximately 1/8-inch clearance between the tailgate latches and the tailgate pins when the bale chamber is empty. If the latches are tight against the tailgate pins, the tailgate latches may not fully engage the tailgate pins after a bale is ejected, which could allow the tailgate to open partially. With the 1/8-inch clearance, it is normal for the tailgate to move back and forth as the bale rotates. Over time, as the tailgate latches wear, the tailgate pins can move far enough away from the magnetic sensor for the sensor to lose contact with the pin.

Inserting the duckbill

Another cause for the tailgate pin to move out of the range of the sensor is operator fatigue. I have seen many customers immediately reach for the remote lever when the full bale alarm sounds. It does not take much movement of the remote lever to open the tailgate by relieving the hydraulic pressure.

If your baler was manufactured in the first two years of production, the software did not always return the duckbill to the home position if an error occurred. The early counter rollers were made of aluminum with a magnet glued into the roller. The magnet could fall off, which caused the system to stop counting the length of net being applied. This would stop the duckbill from returning to the home position. Later versions of the software corrected this issue. Update the controller software to the latest version to eliminate this problem.


It is rare for the duckbill to be in the home position and the net not being cut. After the duckbill inserts the net and the net starts, the duckbill will retract to a precut position. If the precut position is set too close to the knife activation point, the duckbill slot could slow the knife linkage down to a point where the net will not be cut. To set the precut position, press and hold the open book button until the alarm sounds. Press and release the open book button until 13 is displayed on the left. Using the extend and retract buttons, position the duckbill so the duckbill’s lower spiral spreader roll is parallel with the front stationary spiral spreader roll. Press and hold the #wraps button until the alarm sounds.  end mark

Mike Seckinger has over 44 years experience as a farm equipment mechanic in southern Indiana and says, “What I write is not intended to represent the only way to solve a problem, and it may not always be complete. If you choose to follow some of my procedures, remember to always practice safety first. Wear the correct clothing and safety equipment, and use the equipment’s safety devices.”