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: Sensor-tivity Training
Apr 21, 2011
I got "burned" twice this week by sensors and switches on planters. Both times I over-reacted and spent too much time analyzing and testing circuits and systems when I should have checked the easy, simple stuff first. For the rest of this spring I vow to always:
-check that any switch or sensor associated with the problem I'm trying to diagnose has free travel, isn't plugged by a corn stalk or mouse nest, and that the wiring harness running to it is in good shape. Then I'll check it again.
-check seed tube sensors first by running a long zip-tie up and down the seed tube to see if it will trigger the seed monitor in the tractor cab. If I have doubts about the sensor I'll take the time to plug my hand-held seed sensor tester into the individual seed tube to test it. If I don't have my tester with me, I can do the farmer-trick of switching the questionable sensor and its seed tube with another seed tube on another row, to see if the problem follows the questionable sensor when I move it.
-check the planter wiring harness connectors at the back of the tractor. Those connectors need to be firmly pushed into place, and if they have a ring that locks them into place, I'll make sure that locking ring is twisted clockwise until I feel it "click" into place.
-double-check all wiring harnesses inside frame tubes for gnawed wires if I even get a whiff of "mouse" odor. Even if the farmer swears he has no mice in his machine shed.
I tell customers the best way to start diagnosing a problem is to think, K.I.S.S.--Keep It Simple, Stupid. For the rest of this spring I need to take my own advice.