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.
A New Approach To Field Repairs
Aug 18, 2013
There was a fad a couple years ago where farmers set up or built super-duty service trucks to make field repairs. They'd buy an old pickup truck or dually, build or add tool boxes, a welder/generator, an air compressor, maybe a fuel and oil tank, and it would be their repair shop on wheels.
Lately I'm seeing a trend where farmers put together a repair "pallet" that they slide in and out of whatever pickup truck is available to go to the field for repairs. One farmer simply took a wooden seed corn pallet, reinforced its surface with a sheet of 3/4-inch exterior plywood, and bolted an air compressor, welder/generator, and a large toolbox to that pallet. Another farmer used thin-wall boxed tubing and sheet steel to make a pallet to which he welded brackets that allow him to temporarily bolt a welder, air compressor, toolbox, etc. to the pallet. Either design allows the farmer to use a forklift to slide his repair kit into the back of a pickup truck during fieldwork so the essentials for repairs are readily available. During the off-season, the pallet is removed and the truck is available for normal farm abuse.
There are dozens of variations on the design. Some are carefully thought out and provide easy access to tools, spare parts and utensils used for repairs. I've noticed the designs evolve year after year, as each farmer customizes which tools are easy to reach and which ones require crawling into the bed of the truck to access.
There are local farmers who stil have dedicated service trucks, but they tend to be large operators with a full-time mechanic who makes repairs at multiple locations throughout the year. Those guys make good use of a truck with a utility box, a hydraulic boom and the benefits of having all their tools and many extra parts constantly loaded in what effectively becomes a rolling repair shop.
But for an average farmer, it makes good sense to have the basic tools and devices commonly used for field repairs set up so they're self-contained and easily loaded and unloaded from whatever pick-up truck is available. It's cool to have a full-time service truck loaded with every possible tool, but slide-in, slide-out field repair pallets are a better "fit" for farmers who don't make all their repairs out of the back of a truck.