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.
Feb 21, 2010
There are many learning opportunities for farm equipment mechanics. Some are tool-related, some are situational. For example:
I will never buy another electrical extension cord or trouble light that is less than 25 feet long. I'm tired of walking across the shop with a cord that pulls me up short like the dog on the end of a short leash. Fifty-foot cords are now my minimum.
I will never use WD-40, JB-80 or another penetrating fluid as a stop-gap lubricant for an air tool, such as an impact wrench, die grinder or air-powered drill. Penetrating fluids are oily, but they aren't oils. Nothing but air tool lubricant in my air tools, from now on.
I will never (again) carry two 50-pound bags of Oil-Dri on my shoulder at the same time. I might have been able to do it when I was younger, but that was then, and this is now.
I will never again weld overhead while sitting. If I do, I'll stop welding at the first scent of burning cloth, hair or flesh and immediately identify and extinguish the source.
I will never again use a parts washer without wearing rubber gloves. A friend and fellow mechanic has blood cancer. His doctors say frequent exposure to parts washing fluid may have been a contributing factor.
I will never again go on a service call--no matter how fast and easy my boss or the farmer says it will be--without at least a bottle of drinking water, Band-aids, $10 in cash, a roll of duct tape, and at least one big hammer and a pair of 9-inch Vise-Grips.
I will never again work on a large piece of machinery below a mechanic who chews tobacco.