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.
Wrenching In The Dark
Oct 30, 2013
Harvest is delayed in many parts of the country, Daylight Savings Time ends this weekend, and we're going to spend far too much time fumbling around machinery after sunset as we wrap up this year's harvest. Here are some options to prevent cursing the darkness:
-good old D-cell flashlights. They work, they're cheap and we've all got one rolling around under our pickup's seat. But unless you're an expert at clamping one of them in your armpit while you make repairs, they're pretty much an inspection tool.
-120-volt or battery-powered "trouble lights" come in dozens of sizes and designs. Some have incandescent bulbs, many have flourescent bulbs, and the latest versions have LED lights. Depending on the design, they may have magnets or hooks or small stands to position them to shine their light on specific parts of the machine. Good for repairs and maintenance, a little bulky for quick inspections.
-pocket flashlights now come in a variety of designs. Pencil-style flashlights with LED bulbs can provide surprising illumination and are easy to carry in a shirt pocket. I use a variation that is about 4-inches long, an inch in diameter, and admittedly clunky in my shirt pocket---but the little rascal puts out a lot of light. Probably best used for inspections and quick work after dark, but I've used mine for a lot of repairs and maintenance work, to the point where it would be wise for me to buy the optional rubber sleeve that fits around the barrel, so my teeth aren't biting metal when I hold it in my mouth to free up both hands. No kidding--some of the pocket lights have rubber sleeves just so you can comfortably hold them in your teeth if necessary.
-"hat lights" come in a variety of designs. Some are the traditional coon-hunter headbands, that use battery packs and LED lights mounted on a headband so that wherever you look, that's where the light is aimed. There are smaller units that clip or clamp onto the brim of baseball-style caps. A third option is a baseball cap that has two or three LED lights built into the brim. They aren't obnoxiously large bulbs, and you simply squeeze a button or slide a switch to turn on the lights. I've never used them, don't know how bright they are or how long the batteries last, but...any light is better than no light when the combine, grain cart, bin auger or trailer brakes are making funny noises in the middle of the darkest field you farm.