What should I look for when buying a used manure spreader?

Answer: When you are purchasing a used manure spreader, look for these things:1. General appearance. Is it beat up from misuse? Look at the sides. Are they rusted? Is the bottom made of wood with a poly cover? Avoid metal beds, even the Cor?Ten steel ones.2. Is the frame twisted?3. Rock the wheels. Is the bearing play correct? Not too loose?4. Are the apron flats bent? Are they perpendicular to the box sides?5. What type of apron chain links does the machine have? In my experience, the strongest are the square ones. Avoid the links that look like roller chain. How good of shape are the links? It is best to check and see if you can get replacement links. Confirm this by buying two to four. They are not very expensive and you may need them in the future. The same goes for the apron flats.6. Check the lube level in the gearbox. Is it at the correct level? This can speak volumes for the care the spreader has been given.7. Is the apron chain adjusted correctly? Are the two sides of the chain in equal tension? If they are not, it is possible for the looser chain links to skip a link as they goes over the drive cog, misaligning the accompanying apron flat and bending it as it goes over the spreader end.8. Are the beaters all present? If one is missing, it will cause the beater cylinder to be out of balance, causing undue bearing stress.9. Check the bearings and universal joints. Have they been greased regularly? A good way to check this is to note excess grease that has spun out. If there is no grease at all around the bearing housing, I would be wary.10. Check PTO. Nearly all small spreaders are 540 RPM. Make sure it matches your tractor PTO RPM.11. Slide the PTO shaft in and out. Make sure it slides easily. If the shaft has been dropped and a dimple is in the guard tube, the shaft will not slide easily. This is a real pain. Also check that the universal crosses have been greased. Does the PTO latching mechanism on the shaft work securely?12. If there are any hydraulics, such as for an end gate, check the hoses. Are the hydraulic fittings compatible with your tractor’s? They do make different tips, so it is best to check. These tips are easily changed out.13. If the gear box needs work, most bearings and gears should be stock. A machine shop can rebuild the gearbox for you.To learn more about topics related to compost and manure, check out the resources on ATTRA’s Soils & Compost page at https://attra.ncat.org/soils.html.