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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.

What's That Smell...?

Aug 08, 2012

 It used to be that any combine cab more than a couple years old was guaranteed to smell at least a little "mousey." There were just too many holes and cracks that allowed the little varmints to get into cabs. Modern cabs are better designed, and as long as somebody hasn't drilled a hole to route a CB radio wire or grain monitor wiring harness--or left an access panel loose--it's rare to find evidence of mice inside cabs.

But if the little critters HAVE managed to get into a combine cab while it was in storage, they can cause all sorts of problems. Aside from cosmetic damage to upholstery, they can wreak havoc on wiring harnesses. Maybe it's hunger, maybe it's boredom, but mice enjoy gnawing the insulation on wires. Locating and repairing mouse-gnawed wiring can lead to pricey repair bills.

It's expensive to repair the damage from mouse-gnawed wires and upholstery, but perhaps the most annoying consequence from mice getting into combine and machinery cabs is the odor. It permeates the upholstery and is extremely difficult to eliminate. Removing all damaged (as in "stained") upholstery helps. Cleaning with fabric or upholstery cleaner will diminish the stench. Hanging a traditional air freshener like you use in your pickup truck will mask the odor, but not remove it. Products like "Febreze" or "Malodor" actually neutralize foul flavors in the air. My wife lights scented candles when there are stale smells (usually associated with me) in our house, and says the flame helps clean the air, but I've never tried that trick in a machine's cab. 

Sunlight has been my best weapon to remove mouse odors from farm equipment cabs. Pick a hot summer day, park the machine outside and open every door and window. It takes a long time, but sunlight and fresh air seem to eventually minimize the clinging, pervasive, unpleasant odor left behind by mice. Of course, leaving the door open may allow more mice to get into the cab, but...if there are so many mice scurrying around your farm that they're getting into cabs in broad daylight, your barn cats need to be fired.

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