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: Random Mid-Summer Mechanical Considerations
Jul 10, 2011
Some of you are spraying crops, some of you are putting away your planters, some of you are thinking about digging out your combine for pre-harvest maintenance. Here are some random, odd-ball things to consider (or not):
-I've seen a couple photos on the internet of high-clearance self-propelled sprayers mired in mudholes this spring. A couple of the photos showed tow chains, cables or straps attached to the main frames of the sprayers. Engineers say it's best to rig those towing devices to pull from the area of the lower "legs" of the two front wheels. I've had to replace on sprayers both front "legs" and sliding axles that were bent when the operator pulled on the main frame. It's not fun digging into the slop to get chains and cables attached to the lower legs, but the stress of pulling on the main frame while the wheels are mired in the mud can cause significant damage.
-If you're replacing disk openers on your planter, it can be a minor irritation to get the disk off the threaded stud after you remove the nut from that stud. The spring tension at the front of the two disks pressing against each other "loads" them so it's sometimes tough to get the first disk to slide off its stud. Rather than beating on that disk to jar it loose, or using a crowbar to pry them apart, take the butt of your fist and give the disk on the opposite side a couple pops. Eg--if you're removing the left disk, smack the right disk. That tactic uses the impact, combined with the existing spring tension between the disks, to pop loose the left disk. Nine of out ten times, anyway.
-If you're thinking about working on your combine, think "varmints" when you first pull the machine out of the dark back corner of your shed. We had an entertaining episode at the dealership last week, where an irate 'coon chased George, our washbay guy, for a couple laps around the wash area. George's high-top rubber boots now have some impressive holes gnawed in them, and George has learned why we mechanics always pound on the sides and "bump" over the separator and feederhouse before pulling combines into our shop.
Which reminds me of the number of critters that have made the trip to our shop inside machinery or our trucks. Lots of 'coons and possums have made the trip, along with lots of litters of kittens. And I've learned that the open doors of my enclosed service truck are a magnet for curious cats when I'm working on farms--more than once I've had to return to a farm and release a cat that started yowling in the back when I was three or four miles down the road. I once had to return to release a free-range chicken that had hopped into my truck when I wasn't looking. Trucker Bob, who drives our beavertail semi-truck to haul combines and tractors, once couldn't figure out why people were honking when they passed him while he was hauling a machine 100 miles to our dealership--until he arrived and discovered that the farmer's Australian Blue Heeler had happily made the entire trip, standing on the deck of the trailer, barking at passing cars.