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.
Kind Words For Engineers
Sep 06, 2012
I have occasionally voiced frustration with the way an engineer designed a piece of equipment I was working on. This evening I want to give credit to some anonymous mid-level engineers, stuck in cubicles somewhere, who took time to design things "smart."
-kudos to the engineer who, when designing a large diameter pully on a clean grain elevator, realized it would be difficult to get a gear puller spread wide enough to grasp the outer edges of that big pulley. So he designed a 1/2-inch by 1/2-inch groove around the outer edge of the pulley's center hub. I was able to lock the jaws of my 3-jaw puller into that groove and remove that pulley with ease. Somebody buy that engineer a beverage of his choice.
-I'll bet the engineer that designed the chain tensioner for feederhouse drive chains on a certain series of combines grew up on a farm. To tighten that chain tensioner, you have to slide the idler sprocket sideways in a long groove. The designing engineer included a series of 1/2-inch holes the length of the backside of the tensioner's slot. Put a punch or pointed pry bar into one of the holes and it's embarrassingly easy to lever the sprocket sideways and give that chain the exact tension it needs. Only a farm boy would think ahead and provide pry-holes to tension a chain.
-If you don't adjust conveyor chains equally, they can run off to the side of their sprockets and wear unevenly. So it was nice that an unknown engineer specified that small notches be punched along the sides of the adjusting slots on tailings elevators. It only takes a glance to see if one side of the tensioner is ahead of the other--makes keeping that chain evenly tensioned very easy. Thanks, Mr. Anonymous Engineer!
I still get annoyed when I try to add engine oil to a fill tube that's behind an engine deck support, or when a tractor's engine air filter is 1/2-inch longer than the space under the tractor's hood the engineer allowed for removal. I've been known to question the morality of an engineer's mother after wrestling with engine fuel filters that require--according to the engineers themselves--250 pumps on a hand primer. But it gives me hope that there are still a few engineers out there, probably farm boys or farm boys at heart, who think about the mechanics and farmers who actually have to work on that equipment.
However, I still want to have a talk with the genius that decided running hydraulic hoses and wiring harnesses INSIDE planter frame tubes--and their folding hinges--was a good idea.