Machinery breaks down. I used to think that if you had new machinery you didn’t have any breakdowns — a theory propagated by the fact that I’d never owned any new machinery and I always saw the new stuff sailing down the field while I was patching up our old stuff. I was deeply disappointed to learn that even new machinery breaks down. So whether your machines are new, old or ancient (like ours), here are some tips and things to look for before you head out seeding.
Take a look at the bolt in photo 1. Notice that the bolt is just about worn through. This is what you want to find before you go to the field, not in the middle of the highway when a section of your seeding implement drops to the ground. Luckily we found this in the field before it had a chance to cause a lot of damage. (I had just driven the hoe drills through a spot where Ben told me “Don’t go through there!” You know, it looked dry on top and I was seeding just fine until I hit the soggy spot. It took at least 10 hours of tugging, taking apart and putting together to get it out.)
But, back to that bolt. No matter what type or age of machine you have take time to check it over carefully before you hit the field. Old stuff will have worn out parts. Even new stuff has problems. My uncle Palmer advised to check every bolt on a new machine because there were likely a few that weren’t tightened properly. Sometimes things are even put together wrong.
Here’s a list of a few to check:
1. Wheels, tires and bearings These things go round and round so jack them up and give them a spin and a shake.
Any roughness or grinding is not good. Take it apart and check it out.
If has a grease fitting, grease it. If it doesn’t have a grease fitting think about taking it apart and repacking it if it hasn’t been done lately.
Give it a shake side to side. A few thousandths of side to side movement is OK for most wheels if they have Timken (tapered) bearings. Anything more than that should come apart and be checked and adjusted.
Replace the tire if it’s getting shabby. Check the air pressure. Get a spare tire and rim if you can. It’s a lot easier to take a half an hour to put on a spare than spend four hours or more to run and get one fixed.
2. Hydraulic hoses
Check for spots where they have been rubbing and replace as needed.
Fix those irritating leaky fittings. It’s a lot more pleasant not to have those oily patches on your equipment.
More things that go round and round. Make sure they go round and round easily. Lube as needed. Check for wear in any bearings that might be attached.
While you’re at it check out any chains and belts that need attention. Lube and adjust as needed.
4. Grease fittings
Make sure you know where all the grease fittings are on your machinery. I bought a machine once and the owner made the point of telling me of a certain grease fitting. Apparently he didn’t know it was there when he bought the machine and it cost him hundreds of dollars in repairs when it dried up and wrecked the bearing and housing.
Make sure all the grease fittings take grease. If not take them out and fix them. Often they are packed with dirt behind the fitting. Dig out the dirt and it works fine. Other times you have to do some serious cleaning, wiggling and mumbling to get it to take grease. It’s better than having some vital part seize up and fall off when you’re on that chunk of land that’s as far from your yard as you can get.
5. Pivot bolts and mechanisms Just like that bolt, things wear
out. Have a good look at all your pivot points, etc. If they look a little questionable get a bar and see if you can find any problems with them. Be careful that you’re in a safe position while doing this. You don’t want something falling on your head. Replace parts as needed.
While you’re driving down the highway I’m sure you’ve seen the odd gouge in the pavement. Likely caused by some farmer who didn’t check the above items.
6. Seed compartments
Usually you don’t have a lot of problems with these except for the odd leaky lid. We’ve got a few stress cracks in ours we have to fix this spring. Check yours for any spots that the water can get in. Often a bit of silicone and a tin patch will fix you up.
Lube up the lid mechanisms so they open and close easily.
We don’t have any air-type seeding equipment but I’ve heard these air drills and such have lots of hoses on them. Likely you should give them a wiggle and replace anything that looks like it might fall apart in the field.
You have hundreds of horse power dragging these things through the field. Check out the pivots and hitch mounts. If they’re getting worn fix them or replace them.
9: Points and openers
Check openers for wear. Last year we had to repair a lot of our hoes where the points mount. For some reason after 20 or so years these can wear out.
Check the springs or other parts that adjust the tension. At times they will need re-adjustment. If you don’t know the correct tension adjustments read the manual or find someone who can tell you the correct tension and settings.
Check the alignment as well. Are they still in line or have they wiggled out of place?
Check all the packer bearings. It’s easier to change them in the yard than in the field.
Check the packers for wear. Replace or repair as needed.
11. Changes and Modifications
Our Versatile 2200 Hoe drills are adjustable for spacing. Right now we have it set at eight-inch spacing. Ben’s been talking about changing it to 10-inch spacing for better trash clearance. This might be the year we do it. It’s likely going to be wet and on some fields we have a lot of trash. Maybe it will go through the wet spots a bit better as well.
Can you do any modifications on your unit for wet conditions? This might be the year that it makes sense to change or modify it.
This is another thing our old hoe drills don’t have. However, I imagine there’s a bit of it on the newer units. Check for bare wires, cracked insulation and corroded connectors. With all the wiring on machinery it might be time to invest in some good wire crimpers and a kit to take apart those nasty new terminals.
13. Spare parts
When we bought our latest “new to us” hoe drills we kept the old set which was the same model but smaller. Slowly we borrowed a part or two for the new drills and pretty soon the old one was mostly stripped down. This saved us a lot of money in repairs and many hours and days were saved by having our own parts supply in the yard. This might not work for you but it’s something to consider if you’re running older equipment. Often there’s some stuff sitting in your neighbour’s yard or at an auction that can give you many useful parts.
There’s a few things for you to check out once the snow melts and you find your equipment again. I’m sure I’ve missed a few things but this will give you an idea of what to look for.
Enjoy the thaw and here’s to a great spring!