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Combine care

A combine's cleaning shoe is often overlooked when prepping harvesters for the season, observes Earl Knuth, who is in charge of MachineryLink's ( fleet of over 300 combines. “A faulty cleaning shoe can cost you big-time in grain losses,” he warns. Knuth, a 30-plus-year veteran of combine maintenance, shares tips for getting your cleaning shoe clean.

● Chaffer and sieve. Remove both frames from the combine and clean thoroughly. “Don't assume residue caught in their elements will drop off when you start harvest,” Knuth warns. “A cob stuck in the elements can remain all harvest, impeding crop flow and cleaning.”

Closely inspect both assemblies. Look for cracks in their side frames and especially in frame corners. “Stress cracks can lead to a corner of the frame to drop down during harvest. It doesn't take long before it will self-destruct. You can literally be throwing parts out the back of a combine at that point.”

Check the condition of tall crop dividers (on combines with sidehill kits) to see that they are tight and not wobbling around. Look at the deflectors on the chaffer to see if their fasteners (often rivets) have come off, resulting in the deflector flopping around on the chaffer.

Make sure assembly bolts go in and out freely. These bolts must be tightened to a specific torque. When reinstalling the chaffer and sieve, make sure to torque their fasteners to specification.

● Shoe cavity. Crawl inside the cleaning shoe area and inspect the metal for cracks and bending or twisting of the frame. Inspect the pan for holes and rust, “which retards crop flow to the auger and can load up your shoe area with residue,” Knuth explains. Finally, thoroughly clean the entire cavity.

● Cleaning grain augers. Examine flighting for rolled or sharp edges (both signs of wear). The augers should not be bent or bowed. “Take a look at the bearings and drive gears at both ends of the augers,” Knuth adds.

● Cleaning fan. A fan today turns at a high rate of speed, moving tremendous amounts of air. For that reason, a fan can be damaged if residue is sucked in.

Always inspect the vanes for bending or breaks. “If only one vane breaks, it doesn't take much for it to destroy the entire fan assembly.”

Finally, check the fan for balance and condition of the bearings.

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