The following commentary does not necessarily reflect the views of AgWeb or Farm Journal Media. The opinions expressed below are the author's own.
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.
It's an electrical problem most common to planters, specifically to the small 3-wire cable that runs from the main frame down to each row unit's seed tube sensor. It's not unusual for that wire to get caught in the pivot points for the parallel arms that support the row unit. Generally it's easy to find the cut or frayed wires, but on rare occasions the wires get broken inside the cable's sheath, but the sheath stays intact. The only visible damage is that the sheath--usually a smooth gray or black rubberized sheathing material--is flattened in the damaged area. If you carefully slice open the sheathing in that flattened spot you often find the wires inside all mashed together, which shorts-out the system.
A customer was trying to diagnose problems with his planter's seed monitor system. I recommended that he inspect each wire going to the seed tube sensors on each row, with special care to look for flat spots that indicate internal damage. I could see he was doubtful that the internal wires could be broken without visible damage to the sheathing.
Knowing that he had raised cattle since he was a kid, I asked, "Have you ever "pinched" bull calves to neuter them?" He winced, nodded, and said, "Okay, now I see what you mean."
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