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    BROUGHT TO FRUITION: SheerSpeed owner Steve Hein, with his daughter Laura Barrie, won innovation of the year for his Woolmaster handpiecce and counter. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

AgLife: Innovation awarded at Wimmera Machinery Field Days

By Abby Walter

It was tough competition for site award judges at the Wimmera Machinery Field Days this year.

Fossey’s Distillery won best Country Lifestyle site, Agrimac won best agriculture machinery outdoor site, Before You Dig Australia and Energy Safe Victoria won best Moore Exhibition Centre site, Horsham Lawn-mower Centre won best general outdoor site, John Shearer won machine of the year with the MK 4 Seeder bar, and SheerSpeed won agriculture business innovation of the year for its Woolmaster handpiece and counter.

SheerSpeed owner Steve Hein won the award in his first Wimmera field days.

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“For the past 110 years shearers had to pull a cord, but now all you do is press a button and away the handpiece goes,” he said.

“It’s connected to a counter to tell you how many sheep you have shorn.

“It works on a radio wave so it’s only on-off, same as a TV remote.

“The transmitter talks to a receiver, which talks to the overhead motor.”

Mr Hein said it was safer and more efficient.

“If you have someone, for example, doing a 150 run and there’s 150 on the counter, it’s 150 you don’t have to count out,” he said.

“With crutching, a lot do 600 a day, so, in an eight-hour day you have to pull the cord 1200 times for four seconds. It amounts to 40 minutes and when you take into account time to push the button, it’s about an extra 40 a day.

“If it falls over, nothing will get broken. If it gets kicked out of your hand you can still pull the cord to stop and start it.

“You’ve also always got control of the sheep with one arm, whereas before to pull the cord you had to let go of the sheep.

“If you get out of position or anything goes wrong, you can switch it off straight away.

“When I was learning to sheer I cut into my finger and hand down to the bone, which put me out of action for the rest of the year, but if I had the cordless it wouldn’t have happened.

“I got out of position, I couldn’t reach the cord so I tried to keep shearing and the handpiece went into my hand.  I’ve still got the scar – it happened 40 years ago.”

Mr Hein said as a retired shearer and after his son began managing his farm, he had a lot of time to think.

“I sat in my armchair in 2017 and came up with all these ideas within three months,” he said.  

“A lot of this was in my mind anyway because I used to be a shearer, but I did nothing because I had a young family, I didn’t have the money and I didn’t have the patience.

“Another invention, magnetic grinding papers, took about five years to get them right because I’m pretty fussy, so they’re made to my standard and they had to be good.”

Mr Hein said previously grinding papers to make combs and cutters sharp had to be glued to discs, but he had created magnetic papers to stick to steel discs. 

“You put the magnetic papers on in 30 seconds, whereas normally to glue a paper on it takes about two hours of messing around,” he said.

“With its safety washer, you can grind right up to it without fear of hitting the nut and the comb flying in your face and you utilise the full width of your paper, which means you’re going to get a good cut on your comb and cutter. They’re factory made so the glue is rock hard, and it won’t get bubbles or come off – it’s better than the glue for other papers because we don’t have to worry about getting it off the disc when it’s time to put a new paper on.

“It’s centrifugal force, the nut and magnetism that keeps them on the disc.”

Broad range

Fossey’s Distillery owner Eddie Timmis said 2024 was the first time the business had a stall at the Wimmera Machinery Field Days.

“We have enjoyed it, and we will be coming back again,” she said.

“We were happy to win the award – we were meeting people, and we were set up on the corner so it was a great spot. The field days have a great set-up.”

Agrimac sales manager Horsham Justin Beugelaar said the award was a reward for the staff’s effort.

“Last year everything we displayed belonged to customers already, so our stock is slowly catching up and we were happy with everything on our full site,” he said.

“Crowds were steady, which was good, and we had good conversations.

“The field days gives us the ability to show current and new customers the broad range and it’s great to have everything here.”

The entire March 27, 2024 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire March 27, 2024 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!