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.
Aug 13, 2014
Unless you're one of the unfortunates who flooded-out or hailed-out last spring, you're probably looking at a bumper crop to harvest this fall. You're also looking at low grain prices, so there's a temptation to cut back on expenses in anticipation of lower profits. I've already seen customers scrimping on combine repairs and maintenance, but in view of the extra bushels combines are going to have to digest this fall, avoid the temptation to:
-scrimp on belts. If a belt has any cracks at all, if it has any burned, glazed or questionable areas, replace it. It won't make it all the way thorugh the upcoming bumper harvest.
-stretch augers and auger housings, "one more year." Any auger flighting that doesn't still have a square edge to its flighting, or has a "wobbly" pattern worn into the outer half of the flighting's wear-surface, is going to be completely shot by mid-harvest. Check all auger housings by tapping them with a small hammer. If they dimple easily it's a sign they're worn thin, and they're going to wear through by mid-October.
-ignore worn clean grain elevator systems. The entire clean grain system--from the lower clean grain auger, through the clean grain elevator conveyor chain, to the grain tank loading auger--is prone to "domino damage" because if one component fails it causes problems for all the others in that system. Don't replace a worn elevator chain without considering if the clean grain auger and loading auger also need attention.
-pretend you don't hear funny noises. Start the combine up and run it for at least 5 minutes at full rpms with the header, feederhouse, separator and unloading system engaged. Have someone sit in the seat while you walk around the machine. Don't assume any odd clanks, bangs or screeching will go away once the machine "gets warmed up." They won't.
No harvest is "easy," but this one is shaping up to be a challenge. Maybe, with some extra attention before you begin, it won't be any tougher than average.