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.
The "Goat or Hero" Gamble
Apr 23, 2010
It was one of those deals where I was going to be either the goat or the hero: a customer's 30-year-old planter was mechanically sound, but its wiring harnesses were in sad shape due to too many winters spent under a snow drift. Right or wrong, the guy never got around to putting the machine in a shed, and all the wires and connectors were badly corroded and/or weather-checked. I told him it needed all new wiring. He only had six or seven hundred acres to plant, and politely asked me to, "fix it as cheap as you can." I started testing circuits, found bad connectors and wires, and methodically began splicing and repairing.
And I kept splicing and repairing, off and on, for three days. I'd get everything working, and he'd call in a couple hours and sadly report some other electrical component was acting up. Finally, my boss stepped in, went to the planter, took a quick look and declared, "we're done patching." He ordered three new wiring harnesses and associated connectors, I installed them, and the planter works like a charm.
Now the customer has a labor bill for the more than 12 hours I spent futilely patching wires and electrical connectors, PLUS nearly $1200 in parts for the new wiring harnesses and the time to install those new harnesses.
If I had told him on my first visit that the only fix was $1200 worth of new wiring harnesses, he would have tossed a fit, called my boss and complained that I was, "selling parts." I tried to be a nice guy and do what the customer asked, and it ended up costing him twice as much
I hope he parks that planter in a shed next winter.