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.
Tarp Straps, Duct Tape and Zip Ties
Jul 30, 2013
I recently had an encounter with a customer who felt I wanted to fix his equipment "too good." He felt I was trying to rack up extra repairs by pointing out every little missing pin, bracket and safety latch. He was a master at using tarp straps, duct tape and zip ties to keep machines running, and felt "factory repairs" were an unnecessary waste of time and money.
I confess that on my own vehicles and equipment I can be creative in making temporary repairs. I'm not too proud to use tarp straps, duct tape and zip ties to finish a job or limp home. Anything to get me by until I've got the cash or time to fix things right.
But there are farmers all across this land--and you know who you are--who take secret pride in using tarp straps, duct tape and zip ties for permanent repairs. I am sympathetic--I understand the reasoning behind using duct tape to patch upholstery on a chore tractor. I support the use of tarp straps in place of broken access door latches. I've zip-tied a lot of wiring harnesses and hydraulic hoses in place after their wiring looms or hose clamps mysteriously disappeared.
But when I run across machinery where creative repairs impinge on safety, I draw the line. I've seen hydrostatic cable linkages attached to hydrostatic transmissions with duct tape and baling wire. I've seen batteries vaguely held in place in a combine's engine compartment with a single over-length tarp strap. Then there was the brake linkage on a tractor that was missing a pivot pin, and the owner had wrapped a chunk of baling wire around and through the linkage yoke to hold things together.
For me to berate farmers for being creative in the way they make temporary repairs would be a case of the pot calling the kettle black. I feel a little more comfortable taking a stand on permanent repairs that are related to safety. I occasionally bump heads with customers about such repairs--sometimes they don't want to spend the money to fix things "right." In that case, I often hide behind the excuse that, "I can't legally send the machine out with a known safety issue..."
I admit that's the cowardly way out. But it lets me sleep soundly at night, and offers up lawyers and bureaucrats as targets for the customer's ire for having to spend money on a safety issue even though, "...the duct tape was working just fine."