In The Shop: Parts Is Parts, And Other Farm Memes

March 4, 2017 02:33 AM
 
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The farmer’s grapevine—the complex communication network that shares vital farming information via social media, coffee shops and near-telepathy—is like the internet. It’s full of ideas and rumors, some of which are actually true. Here are some farming memes that might or might not be trustworthy, in my opinion:

Parts is parts. The idea that parts for farm machinery are interchangeable, with price being the only difference, is wrong on many levels. A field cultivator sweep from Manufacturer A might look like one from Manufacturer B, but the two items can have dramatically different metallurgy. Only a farmer who has tried both sweeps over thousands of acres, can tell the difference.

Specifications might vary between manufacturers. It’s merely an aggravation if the mounting holes in an aftermarket field cultivator sweep aren’t perfectly matched to the shank on the field cultivator. A couple whacks with a hammer will usually bring things into alignment.

But when it comes to replacing diesel fuel filters, we’re talking about replacing thousands of dollars of diesel fuel injectors if the discount store diesel fuel filter is designed to stop “chunks,” but Tier IV engines require fuel filtered to less than 2 microns. Both filters look the same, but are built to different specifications.

Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey. True, 95% of the time. Every spring, though, I help customers who forget that on many planters the left disk opener stud/nut and the left closing wheel nut/bolt have reverse threads. If a nut or bolt refuses to loosen, it never hurts to “test” it in the opposite direction. 

Never walk past a grease zerk without greasing it. It is possible that farmers can over-grease machinery. Lubrication engineers tell me that jamming a bearing or housing full of grease actually prevents the grease from circulating enough to transfer heat and keep components cool. The grease intervals recommended in owner’s manuals are reliable guidelines on how often to grease specific zerks and keep them both lubricated and cool.

The “thicker” gear oil is, the better it is. Again, one of the functions of gear lube in a simple oil-bath gear case is to circulate between the heat-producing, oil-slinging rotating components and the cooler gear case housing to transfer heat. If gear oil is too thick, it can drain back to the sump so slowly that those components end up starved for lubricant. Especially in cold weather or just after start-up.

Left-handed drill bits are magic. There is no magic in machinery repairs, especially when drilling out broken bolts. But left-handed drill bits come close.

You can get it cheaper at a junkyard. Yes, you can, but whether cheaper is better depends on the used part.

If the part is a high-wear item such as a combine auger housing or a planter seed meter the salvage part might have as much or more wear as the part you’re trying to replace on your own machine. 

Used gearcases and engines are a pig in a poke. How used they are, how worn their internal components are, is anybody’s guess, and the price usually reflects that uncertainty. Or it should.

Less risky salvage yard purchases are items that, “are what they are,” such as: cab doors, seats, body panels, wheels and other components that can be examined and judged on their visual appearance. If fresh paint and the smell of “new” isn’t important, tractor junk yards can offer significant savings to observant shoppers.

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