In the Shop
As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.
Most Annoying Equipment Design?
Oct 14, 2009
Before I dive into a rant about how engineers design farm machinery without consideration for making repairs, I must acknowledge that in many cases engineers actually do an excellent job designing components to make repairs easier.
BUT. There are times when you're lying upside down, twisted at a 45-degree angle with both arms extended over your head at different angles, that you sincerely wish the engineer who designed the machine could be there with you to share the experience. Or at least show you how to get the #&$! thing apart.
Aside from comfort, safety and sheer convenience, it's also annoying when designers choose to use fasteners or components that require special tools. There's nothing worse than being deep into a complicated repair project only to discover a critical bolt or fastener is a special design that requires an odd-ball tool that even the local Snap-on tool dealer has never heard of. (But he'll gladly order you one for $150.)
Electrical harness connectors are especially bad for that. I have a small box crammed at last count with more than 25 different "pin-pushers" to remove individual sockets or pins from electrical connectors.Yet I still cringe every time I have to take apart and repair a big electrical connector because there's a good chance I won't have the correct tool.
I'm not the only one intimidated by the myriad types and sizes of pins/sockets used in modern farm equipment electrical systems. One of our parts men, with more than 20 years experience and an encylopedic memory, has been known to hide underneath the counter if he sees a mechanic come toward the parts counter carrying a frazzled wiring harness connector.
I'm sure engineers do the best they can to make equipment not only durable, but repairable. But there are days when I imagine a group of engineers sitting around a computer, saying to each other, "Wait till they try to take THIS one apart....!"