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.
Annual Critter-In-The-Combine Alert
Jul 18, 2012
Combines are starting to come out of storage in preparation for whatever harvest we manage to salvage this year. And as combines come out of storage, dealerships across the country are experiencing their annual bonus to their budgets as farmers pay for expensive repairs due to critters getting caught in the machinery.
I spent several days last week replacing the radiator, intercooler, cooling fan and other components in a combine. The bill gagged the farmer nearly as much as the dismembered raccoon did. The sad thing is, the farmer took the recommended steps before he got the machine out of the shed--he banged on the sidesheets, made as much noise as possible, and did everything possible to scare critters out of the machine before he started it up.
But a yearling 'coon decided it was safer to hunker down in the radiator shroud, between the radiator and the cooling fan--until the engine started to crank over. Its futile attempt to dive through the blades of the fan was fatal not only to itself, but to a lot of expensive components in the engine compartment.
At the dealership our grizzled veteran mechanics always bang on a combine, honk the horn, "bump" over the engine once or twice, and do everything possible to chase critters out of combines that have been sitting overnight in our shed or on our lot. After we start the engine we are careful when engaging the separator to "bump" it into motion just a little bit, to encourage any passengers to exit before we fully engage the separator or feederhouse. And--once it's time to fully engage the machine, we go to "full throttle" as soon as possible, so that "clogs" get fully shredded and distributed rather than merely wound around shafts, gears and augers.
It's inevitable that some stubborn critter will stay in a machine somewhere in your county or region and create messy havoc. It's just part of farm life. The only question is whether it will be your machine or somebody else's.