Harvest is going well. You’re unloading grain and you notice a small pile on the ground under the auger. You look up and find that the flighting is worn through in one spot about 15 feet up right next to a bracket. What do you do? Once you’re unloaded, you rush out to the field to find someone driving the combine who might have an idea how to fix it. When you get the combine stopped you see a little pile of grain trickling out of the combine where some evil internal part has worn through the metal. Yes, it’s a bad day, but don’t run away screaming.
Grab a tube of silicone, a clean wire brush, some old galvanized heater duct or other light metal, good tin snips, a roll of mechanic’s wire and some sticks or pieces of wood to use as shims.
Shut off the machinery. Then clean around the leaking area with the wire brush so it’s not greasy or dusty. A can of parts cleaner spray might help. Make sure to wipe it with a clean paper towel. Cut a patch of metal the right size to cover the hole and fit in the area around the hole. Test fit the patch. Bend it as needed. You’ll wrap wire around the auger to hold the patch in place, but the tubing likely has brackets on it so the patch won’t be held tightly to the hole unless you use something to shim up the patch. This is where you use the pieces of wood.
Once you’ve got the patch to fit tightly, take it all apart. Cover the patch and the area around the hole with silicone and smear it around so that all the metal is covered. Don’t use too much. You want both surfaces covered and just a bit squishing out when you put the patch on. Now put the patch on. If you’ve cut and shaped it correctly it should stay on by itself. Wrap it with wire and shim it up as needed to hold it tightly in place. Resume harvest.
Make sure to use a good quality silicone such as a gasket type that is a bit friendlier to contaminants than the cheap stuff. We use windshield urethane, but it has a very limited shelf life once the tube is opened. You might want to use rubber gloves and make sure you have a good set of tin snips or you’ll be very unhappy. You can take off the wire and shims once the silicone has dried.
How long will it last? Years and years. We’ve got patches like this that have been around for 10 years or more. Trim the silicone and paint it if you want that “new machine” look.
Ron Settler, his wife, Sheila, and their sons Ben and Dan farm and run a repair and salvage business at Lucky Lake, Sask.