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.
Concerns About Combines
Jul 26, 2014
We've still got to get through August, but things are looking good across the Corn Belt for a mega-corn crop this fall. There are pockets of hail damage and flooding, and we sympathize with those folks, but many of us are looking at the potential for a huge corn crop.
That means combines are going to handle a LOT of bushels. High yields magnify weak and worn points in combines. To minimize breakdowns, here's a quick list of wear points common to all combines, that should be checked before harvest:
-Feederhouse floors and conveyor chains. Tap the sheet metal of the floors from the bottom with a hammer and replace/repair if the metal dimples. Replace conveyor chains if there's more than 1/16-inch of "slack" between links when they're squeezed together with slip-joint pliers.
-Check feed flights on threshing rotors, rasp bars/threshing elements, and concave thickness. Even though those components aren't worn beyond replacement recommendations, consider replacing them if they're "close" to replacement, to maintain good feeding and threshing all the way through the end of this mega-harvest.
-High yields put extreme stress on clean grain loading systems. Make sure the lower clean grain auger is at full diameter, that the clean grain elevator chain paddles are full size, and that the grain tank loading auger is in good condition. If each of those clean grain handling components is slightly worn they allow grain to back-feed to some degree, and that back-feeding multiplies drag on the system and increases wear which increases back-feeding...and things go downhill rapidly after that.
-Straw chopper knives need to be sharp. Many people have a, "who cares as long as it spits stuff out the back" attitude toward choppers. Two things to consider: dull knives are a huge drag on horsepower, and dull knives don't chop and spread residue well. One engineer told me dull knives can steal 25 to 50 extra horsepower. And an agronomist told me that uneven residue distribution in the fall is a major factor behind uneven emergence of next year's crop.