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.
Fantasy Revenge of the Combine Nerd
Mar 07, 2012
I've spent the past week or so in intermittent correspondence with some computer geeks, trying to do some computer-software stuff that is way over my head. They're losing their patience with me; I lost patience with them a LONG time ago. But we forge ahead, individuals from different worlds who all speak English but can't understand each other. I have a fantasy that one of the computer geeks is actually a full-time farmer who's working part-time at the computer help center during the winter. In my fantasy, that farmer/computer geek calls and asks my help in repairing his combine. My response:
"Okay, are you in the combine? Good. Get out of the combine. You're going to have to remove the feederhouse. Just unhook the hoses, unbolt the upper clamps, and it will come right off. Then remove the straw chopper. Where is the straw chopper? At the back of the machine where all the straw spits out the back. Just loosen the belts, take out whatever bolts seem to be holding it in place, and it will drop--I mean, come right off. Then I want you to go up into the engine compartment, and at the bottom of the engine oil pan there's a drain valve. Trace the hose that comes off that valve and find the end of that hose. Okay, this next step is critical. As soon as you open that valve, get to the end of the hose as fast as you can and look up inside it to see if you can see light from the oil pan's interior light-emitting diode array. Call me back with what you see."
Later that day...
"Okay, did you remove the feederhouse? Yes, but...Oh, that doesn't sound good. You probably forgot to put jackstands under it. You must have one of the beta-models that didn't have self-deploying jackstands. How 'bout the straw chopper...? You did. It did. Was anybody hurt? You'll probably have to upgrade to a new chopper housing, since it sounds like that system crashed. What did you see when you checked the engine oil pan's light-emitting diode array...? You couldn't see any lights because engine oil kept running into your eyes. Oooooh--that's not good. I think you've flooped the muffler diode and ginzled the turbocharger/crankshaft interface. That's going to require a complete out-of-frame engine overhaul. Say, I'm sorry, but it's my lunchtime and besides, I'm bored with your problems, so I'm going to escalate your ticket to my supervisor. Hold please...
And that's when I put my phone next to a cassette recorder playing an endless loop of Debbie Boone singing, "You Light Up My Life," and walk away...