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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.
Unusual things are happening during harvest this year. I've posted several times over the years about problems with raccoons and other varmints (feral cats included) causing problems when combines are taken from storage in late summer early fall. This year, for the first time in my experience, we're having problems with varmints in combines that are already in the field.
We've had two instances in the past couple weeks of 'coons causing significant damage to the fans and/or radiators of combines sitting in the field. The machines were left overnight, or over a period of days due to rain, and when the operators started them there were major damage to both the 'coons and the combines' cooling systems. In one case the $3000 radiator needed to be replaced, along with the cooling fan. The other operator got off cheaper and only had to replace the fan.
There's no real pattern or reason we've suddenly had problems with 'coons in combines in the field. One of the combines was parked in the yard of the customer's farmstead. The other was parked in a field across the road from a farmstead. About the only advice I can offer is to never simply get out of your truck, hop in the combine and fire up the engine. Spend some time banging around the machine, crawl up and check the engine oil, and do all you can to encourage varmints to get out of radiator shrouds, cleaning fans and lower sieves.
I don't know why they're so fond of sleeping in radiator shrouds. Sure makes a heck of a mess and unpleasant repairs.
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