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Your 10-point plan for a hassle-free harvest

Agriculture.com Staff 07/27/2010 @ 11:00pm

Time spent this month sizing up your harvest armada for replacement, repairs, expansion, or streamlining can boost your capacity to bring in the crop before winter sets in. Here are 10 plans you can employ in the next 30 days to eliminate harvest hassles.


1: Examine Feeder House

The feeder house is the workhorse of the combine. It toils for seasons, often without complaint. This reliability is often the feeder house's undoing since farmers tend to overlook this dependable section when it comes to the preseason inspection, observes Earl Knuth.

He should know. Knuth has worked on untold combines during his 30-plus-year career. And for the last seven years, he has headed up MachineryLink's combine maintenance program, overseeing the inspection of over 2,500 harvesters by a crew of certified technicians, who follow a 350-point inspection checklist Knuth created.

That experience has taught Knuth to treat the feeder house to a little preseason tender loving care so it can "present crop for thorough threshing," he says. "If the feeder house delivers crop in bunches, that crop will be threshed and separated in bunches boosting grain losses."

Here is Knuth's checklist for feeder house care:

  • Examine Slats. Replace worn and bent slats. Also make sure the slats are operating parallel to each other.
  • Check Chains. Sagging chains accelerate wear, eventually leading to chains jumping on sprockets. "It's normal for the center chain to sag a bit because of the weight of the slats and upward force of the crop material," Knuth says. "On the other hand, don't overtension the chains, as this can lead to shaft and bearing failure."
  • Examine Eye Rollers, Pins, And Keepers. Look at all these chain bits for wear. "And make darn sure the keepers are secure and won't come loose," Knuth cautions. "If that happens, you'll have a section of the chain flopping around in the feeder house."
  • Look For Cups. Worn valleys and teeth that are cupped back on the feeder house's top sprocket are sure indicators that a replacement is overdue.
  • Feel The Drive Belt. Handle the entire length of the drive belt while looking for cracks, missing pieces, burned spots, and belt separation. Any of these ailments warrants a new belt, Knuth advises. "Don't reach for belt dressing to get by. It only offers a temporary remedy to slippage and often shortens belt life." Watch the belt rotate to determine if it is out of balance or wobbling.
  • Take The Drive Apart. Knuth believes in taking the variable drive on John Deere combines completely apart to inspect the internal cams (shown left) for rusting and galling. "Lube surfaces before reinstalling.

Then grease the drive with the pulley in the 12 o'clock and 2 o'clock positions. Cycle the cams to spread the grease by accelerating and slowing the engine several times," he says.

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