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.
Include An Ash Or Oak In Your Toolbox
Jan 18, 2014
For years I had a shameful secret about how I once used a tree to straighten a bent cross auger on a soybean platform. The auger was bowed about 4 inches after a softball-sized rock got wedged between the flighting and the back of the platform. It was bowed badly enough so it rocked the combine at full throttle, so something had to be done.
I kind of glanced around to see if anybody was watching, then strapped an old fencepost to the bowed section of the auger, wrapped a log chain around the post and auger, and attached the other end of the chain to a convenient ash tree. I carefully and gently used the hydro handle to back the combine away from the tree, and in the end I got the auger within 1/2-inch of straight.
Being a "professional" mechanic, I was a little ashamed of have resorted to such crude repairs. Until I started comparing notes with other mechanics and farmers who I consider to be crackerjack mechanics. Come to find out, once I got the other guys to start confessing, there's a long list of things trees are good for:
-If an outside snout on a corn head is slightly tweaked, a skillful driver can snag that snout against a tree and turn the combine hard left or right and bend the snout back into alignment. Mostly.
-The same goes for the row divider snouts on the outer edges of soybean platforms.
-Bowed reel bat tubes can be pulled straight using a tree as an anchor, but the consensus is that this is a VERY delicate process.
-I've heard of one instance where a tree was part of the process to straighten a bent boom on a sprayer. It was a complicated procedure that used the tree as the fulcrum and a parked tractor as a "deadman" from which the farmer used a chain hoist to pull the end of the boom into alignment.
-And there are dozens of old-school tales of using tree limbs to support chain hoists to pull engines out of cars and trucks.
So, yes, I once used a tree to straighten the auger in a bean platform. I used to be embarrassed by the crude nature of the repair, but after comparing notes with other mechanics, I now realize such innovation is the sign of a creative mechanic not constrained by rigid adherence to traditional mindsets and rules.
Yeah, right. Whatever lets me sleep at night.