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.
What's The Point Of Keeping Extra Parts?
Mar 20, 2014
I'm in the process of switching to a different service truck. That means I have to transfer all my tools, along with an assortment of spare parts, to the new vehicle. The good news is that I've found several tools I either thought I'd lost--or forgot I had. The bad news is that I'm faced with deciding how many spare machinery parts I really need to keep on the truck.
It's wonderful when I'm out in the country to have the exact part I need stashed on the truck. It saves the time and cost of driving back to the dealership for parts. At one time I thought I could use my years of experience to predict which common parts I should keep on-board. My experiences today of excavating from the depths of my "old" service truck a hundred or more dusty, rusty parts that I've carried for more than 10 years without ever using them hints that maybe it's useless to try and predict which parts I should carry.
The challenge of predicting and carrying critical parts is two-fold for me. First, the manufacturer is constantly changing and upgrading parts, so it's not unusual for a belt or bearing to go out-of-date or be replaced in a year or less, leaving me with a stock of parts on my truck that's not the "latest and greatest." And second, I flat out can't remember what parts I've got stashed, and where I stashed them.
My co-worker, the Great and Mighty Sparky, has a photographic memory, and knows exactly where on his truck every nut, bolt, and gasket is, and can burrow through his boxes and containers to find exactly what he needs. Heck, he even remembers what parts I've got on MY truck, and where I stashed them. I have, in desperation, been known to call him and ask where I should look on my truck to find misplaced parts.
Which raises the question, how do farmers keep track of all their extra parts and pieces? I've seen a few farmers who have professional-grade bins and cabinets with parts categorized under alpha-numeric system that allowed them to know exactly where things were. Most farmers, however, have a memory-based filing system that relies heavily on standing in front of cabinets and bins while muttering, "I know I bought an extra one of those last year, and I remember putting it in a special place so I wouldn't forget where I put it..."
We all know how well that system works...