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.
In The Shop: Making The (Electrical) Connection
Apr 13, 2011
Modern planters and pulled implements often have one or more electrical systems that connect to the tractor via plugs on the back of the tractor. Since some computerized electronic systems on planters and implements operate on as little as 4 volts, those plugs or connectors can often be the source of problems. If you're having trouble with electronic systems on planters or implements...
-turn on the warning flashers on the tractor and see if the warning flashers on the planter/implement work. If warning flashers don't work, check both sides of the 7-pin connector at the back of the tractor. That's the round push-in connector with 6 smaller pins encircling a larger center pin. The top pin is ground. The center pin is 12-volt power. If no power is present, check under the rubber boot on the back of the tractor's 7-pin socket--it's notorious for drawing moisture that corrodes the connections.
-disconnect other electrical connectors between the tractor and the planter/implement and inspect each of the pins or sockets to make certain they're all seated to the same depth in their respective plugs. If one pin or socket is deeper than the rest, re-seat it to ensure optimum electrical contact.
-if your planter's seed monitor uses rectangular connectors with flat silver blades, those blades must be silver. If they're showing copper or dull metal, it's time to replace them. Sanding or scraping those blades to improve contact actually degrades conductivity and speeds the need for total replacement of the connector.
-don't wrap connectors in tape to keep out moisture. Moisture will always somehow get in, and if you've taped the connector that moisture can't get out. It sits there and corrodes the connector's insides. Most connectors are designed to connect "dry" and without any moisture-excluding measures. If you feel the need to keep out dust and moisture, dielectric compound, available at most auto parts stores, is a petroleum jelly-like ointment that you smear in female sockets that can both lubricate the pins and help exclude water and dust.
-if disconnecting, checking and re-seating electrical connectors doesn't fix the problem, carefully trace the wiring harnesses and check for pinches or cuts near the 3-point hitch or any folding hinges on the planter or implement's hitch. If the problem isn't in the harness connectors or at harness pinch points...it's time to open a large can of patience and start checking voltages to find the problem.