In The Shop: Ugly Repairs That Do the Job

February 2, 2017 05:45 PM

It’s always best to use new parts and prescribed techniques when making repairs to farm equipment, but let’s be honest, there are a few times when new parts aren’t available, rain is in the forecast and “creative engineering” is the only option. I’m not confessing, but I’ve (ahem) heard of situations where the following tricks saved the day:

  • If a bearing has spun on a shaft and the new bearing won’t fit snug, use a center punch and hammer to “dimple” the surface of the shaft with dozens of tiny craters. The raised edges of the craters will increase the diameter of the shaft enough so the bearing will seat properly.

Gap-filling compounds, such as Loctite’s QuickMetal 660, can also help fill spaces up to 0.02" between bearings, shafts, keyways and other metal components. It’s not a quick fix—full cure time is 24 hours.

Another option is to weld the worn segment of shaft and then machine the weld to factory specs. Proper procedure prefers turning the shaft on a lathe to resize it. Some folks have welded, ground down the weld with a grinder and been satisfied with the crude, temporary repair. 

  • Holes in gearboxes, plastic housings and fiberglass components can be patched with JB Weld or other epoxies. However, the epoxy won’t be able to support significant weight or withstand much pressure, so it’s not recommended for repairing gearcase mounting bosses, or high-pressure hydraulic or hydrostatic housings. 

Traditional epoxies that require mixing a hardener and a resin can take as long as 24 hours to achieve full strength. Quick-setting epoxies can be “hard” five minutes after they are mixed and fully cured in an hour. Note: they aren’t kidding about “hard” in five minutes—be prepared to work fast.

  • Silicone sealants can substitute for paper or fiber gaskets but are not recommended for pressurized components. Cure-time varies from several to 24 hours, though gearcases can often be put back to use once the sealant has “skinned over.”

“More” is not better when applying silicone sealant—if globs of sealant squeeze outside of the compressed joint, then globs of sealant also squeezed inside the component. If they break loose it can lead to additional problems.

  • Cracked plastic or fiberglass panels can be “sutured” back together by drilling a series of ¼" holes on either side of the break. Use plastic zip ties to create an ugly but functional repair.
  • An aluminum beverage can, split open with the ends cut off, can be duct-taped over a small hole in an auger housing and last until the end of harvest. A plastic 5-gal. bucket is an ugly but functional temporary option for large diameter augers.
  • SKF’s “Speedi-Sleeve” isn’t a quick-fix, but it’s an alternative to replacing expensive shafts worn or grooved where the lips of radial seals ride.

Speedi-Sleeve is a thin-walled, 0.011" sleeve that’s installed over worn areas of a shaft to give radial seals a good surface on which to run. Instructions and an installation tool come with each Speedi-Sleeve. 

  • Have stripped threads in a casting? First, try a longer bolt. Bolt holes in castings are sometimes deeper than the bolt. Longer bolts can engage threads at the bottom of the hole and save the day.

Loctite 3967 Thread Repair Kit is a liquid compound that cures to form threads capable of holding up to 128 lb.-ft. of torque. Full cure takes 24 hours.

A Helicoil thread repair kit requires drilling out the stripped threads and installing a threaded insert but is considered a permanent repair on-par with the original threads.

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