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In the Shop

RSS By: Dan Anderson, Farm Journal

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.

First-day-in-the-field follies

Aug 24, 2008
 Without being snide, snotty or arrogant, here's a list of some of the things dealerships across the country will hear during the first week of harvest:

-"How do I calibrate my grain table so the automatic header height control works?"  Let's's in the owner's manual, under or behind the can either read the instructions and do it yourself, or we can have someone come out, you can pay for a service call, and we can do it for you.

-"None or only part of the electrical stuff in my cab works, and I'm getting error codes on the cornerpost." Is there a strong mouse odor in the cab? Did you put the combine away dirty, with a lot of grain and residue still in and on the machine? Mice have probably spent the off season dining on various wires in the cab and around the machine, and you're going to need serious re-wiring before you can go to the field.

-"My grain yield monitor is doing weird things/isn't accurate/isn't working right." Did you check to see if new software is available for your system, either through the dealership or by downloading it from the manufacturer's website? Have you changed any components or transferred components between planter tractor, sprayer and combine....? Settings required to make GPS systems work for planters and sprayers can make yield monitors go whacko.

-"I can't get my new combine to work as well as my old one." Did you read the manual or attend our combine clinic to learn the differences in how to set, adjust or operate the new combine? Even our mechanics are surprised that though the sheet metal looks the same, changes in serial numbers and model numbers can make huge differences in the way the machines are designed and operated. You'd be surprised at the number of mechanics who take home combine owner's manuals during the summer and spend their evenings studying the changes and learning how to make new models work. case these comments seem extreme and unfair to my readers and customers, here are some comments that frustrated farmers will hear from dealerships and mechanics during those first weeks of harvest:

-"Gee, I've never seen that bearing (shaft, belt, sensor, axle, main frame, etc...) break before." Why is it that every time a farmer breaks something,  mechanics have, "never seen that happen before..."?

-"Sorry, that belt (chain, circuit board, etc.) is a non-warranty part." So, is there ANYTHING on this combine that is under warranty...?

-"Sorry, we don't have that part in stock, but we can have it tomorrow (next week, next month, next year...) if you're willing to pay the freight."  Do you stock ANYTHING in your parts inventory for combines, and no, engine oil filters and steering wheel spinners don't count.

-"That's just the way the machine is built." So, this $200,000 engineering marvel has THAT big of an design flaw, and nobody caught it during field testing...?

First-week-in-the-field for harvest can be challenging. Most of the problems can be worked out with patience. A sense of humor helps. I'm sure you've got some favorite quotes, comments or sayings you can expect to hear from your favorite dealership personnel this fall. 

Isn't it nice, in a world that changes minute-by-minute, to know that there are things you can count on, year after year...?
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