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Top Shops: Precision lube center

Agriculture.com Staff 07/06/2010 @ 4:27pm

When it comes to maintenance chores, David Mitchell wants it low maintenance. "I do not hire any outside help and do all of my own service and repair work," the Houghton, South Dakota, farmer explains. "I need to work as efficiently as possible to get everything done."

That's why Mitchell took extra care designing and equipping a service bay in his 60_104-foot shop. And his efforts paid off when he earned top honors in the Best Lubrication Center category of Successful Farming magazine's Top Shops(tm) Contest sponsored by Lincoln Industrial.

The heart of Mitchell's service bay, and certainly one of the most unique features you will find in any farm shop in the country, is a bulk oil dispensing system that employs two 71/2-gallon volumetric tanks that Mitchell purchased from a farm chemical dealer.

Engine (15-W40 diesel) and hydraulic oil are held in the individual 140-gallon bulk containers mounted in a storage loft. Each bulk container is plumbed to its own volumetric tank via 1-inch-diameter, clear and braided hose. Oil flows from the respective bulk container through the hose and past a 1-inch valve that is part of a three-way valve junction Mitchell located at the bottom of each volumetric tank (see page 48).

After oil is measured in the respective volumetric tank, Mitchell closes the fill valve from the bulk container. To release the measured oil, he has the option of opening one of two valves in the three-way junction. One valve feeds a 1-inch braided hose that Mitchell unwinds to reach waiting vehicles.

Or, he opens a third valve that drops oil down into a storage cabinet and into a waiting funneled fill can. "I'll use this method when doling out smaller amounts of oil such as for a small gas engine," he explains. "Otherwise, when servicing trucks or tractors, I almost always employ the hose."

To assist in that effort, Mitchell plumbed air lines to the top of each volumetric tank. He can then charge the respective tank with air to push lubricant from the tank and through the hose. "I put a regulator at the air control valve to keep pressure down to 10 psi. Experience has taught me that more pressure than that could cause things to blow apart."

Beside the two large volumetric tanks, Mitchell has an additional handheld measuring tank he uses to dole out smaller volumes of fluids. "This tank (which hangs on a bracket on the wall between the two larger tanks) has its own diaphragm pump to suck fluid into the tank for measuring or to propel it out," Mitchell adds.

Besides measuring fluids with precision, Mitchell's engineering helps keep the service bay clean. "It makes the job of measuring out and transferring oil fast. And it's completely contained, which greatly reduces spills."

Additional specialized lubricants, fluids, and supplies for the service bay sit on shelves on the wall next to the measuring tanks. "I used shelves to store these items vs. cabinets with doors so I can glance over and quickly take inventory of supplies," Mitchell explains.

When it comes to maintenance chores, David Mitchell wants it low maintenance. "I do not hire any outside help and do all of my own service and repair work," the Houghton, South Dakota, farmer explains. "I need to work as efficiently as possible to get everything done."

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