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W. McKee Manufacturing

Manure spreading goes high-tech with Eaton products

“McKee was so impressed with the VMQ pump’s performance that it made a decision—almost on the spot—to standardize on it for new builds.”

Curtis Steele
HyPOWER technical group manager


Manure has long been known as a valuable organic fertilizer for soil. It promotes nutrient and water retention, enabling soil to become more fertile.

Although the nutrient value of manure is time-honored, machinery for spreading manure over farmland is anything but dated. Truckmounted, hydraulic manure spreaders made by W. McKee Manufacturing Ltd. of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, have come into a new age of efficiency with an increased lineup of hydraulic components from Eaton’s Hydraulics Group.

Joining Eaton Char-Lynn® motors on McKee standard and fully hydraulic manure spreaders are Vickers VMQ Series fixed-displacement vane pumps, a Vickers manifold with screw-in cartridge valves, and an EFX controller with CONTROL F(x)™ programming software. The Eaton products are supplied to McKee by HyPOWER Systems, an Eaton distributor in Calgary, Alberta.


Well-satisfied with the performance of Eaton pumps and HyPOWER’s customer care, McKee called on HyPOWER when it began experiencing delivery issues with a competitive pump supplier.

“We suggested Eaton’s new VMQ pump to drive the Char-Lynn motor that turns floor chains”, says Curtis Steele, HyPOWER technical group manager, “and a double-pump design on spreader models that also require hydraulic beaters. The newness of the VMQ, however, made the folks at McKee hesitant to give it a try. They said that in spite of delivery issues, the competitive pumps were well-seated in the Alberta marketplace as a reliable power source.”


Steele emphasized the VMQ’s performance strengths, including its 3,500-psi high-pressure rating and thick casting that makes the pump quieter and more durable than the competitive pump. He also stressed HyPOWER’s inventory support and commissioning services. After a thorough product study, McKee agreed to test the pump on a fully hydraulic manure spreader—a decision that resulted in quick orders.

“McKee was so impressed with the VMQ pump’s performance that it made a decision—almost on the spot—to standardize on it for new builds,” Steele says.

The VMQ turned out to be the perfect fit for aftermarket replacements as well. Since the shaft and mount are the same as the previously used pump, the VMQ pump was a convenient drop-in replacement. Adding to the pump’s functionality is the fact that it can be easily changed to left- or right-hand rotation to accommodate different chassis models.

“Standardizing on the VMQ for the aftermarket was a big benefit for McKee, since it no longer needed to inventory two pump styles,” Steele adds.


The VMQ pump led the way to more Eaton product installations on McKee manure spreaders. “Once the pump was in place, we started looking at the spreaders from a system standpoint,” Steele reflects. “We replaced a mobile sectional valve and several auxiliary components with Vickers screw-in cartridge valves in a streamlined manifold that controls all the spreader’s hydraulic functions, including a proportional floor speed control.”

Next HyPOWER went to work updating the manure feed system by replacing manual variable controls with modern HMI and GPS controls to facilitate variable application rates based on vehicle speed. Steele developed the sophisticated system by utilizing Eaton’s comprehensive F(x) electrohydraulic architecture. Along with Eaton proportional valves, he chose an Eaton EFX 1640 electronic controller, a VFX 100-m LCD display, and the standards based CONTROL F(x) programming suite to pull it all together.

Because of HyPOWER’s F(x) expertise, McKee spreaders now incorporate intuitive control screens, enabling end-users to easily control the rate of manure release as the spreaders traverse farmland.

“Even though manure is an organic substance, spreading it costs money,” says HyPOWER’s Glen Befus, HyPOWER technical sales, who is now managing the McKee account. “By employing a variable-rate dispersion system, electrohydraulic controls give the manure spreaders maximum efficiency by enabling operators to continuously monitor and control application rates.”