This article will prove the top ten common-sense steps most farmers use to avoid combined breakdowns, according to Potter and two agricultural extension machinery experts:
1. Begin With A Pre-Season Inspection
According to Purdue University Extension ag engineer, Dan Ess, breakdowns can be avoided by farmers giving their combines thorough pre-seasonal inspections. This is, undoubtedly, step number one. The most obvious places to inspect include the belts, bearings, and chains.
2. Review The Operator’s Manual
Mark Hanna, the ag engineer at Iowa State University Extension, states that a person should review their machine’s manual to determine the appropriate settings for the concave clearance, fan speed, and rotor or cylinder speed. Hanna also pointed out that the farmer needs to check the settings for screens in the machine’s cleaning shoe.
3. Inspect And Clean The Combine Daily
Hanna stated that bearing surfaces on the combine need to be kept clear of any dust or crop residue. It is also important, according to this engineer, that leaks of pressurized oil need to be checked, such as those that could occur in the turbocharger.
4. Using Air And Not Water
Contrary to popular belief, water must not be used to clean a combine. According to Hanna, high-pressure air is the preferred option for cleaning the majority of combine machine components. If water is used on interior or exterior areas of the machine, you are placing the combine at risk of rust and corrosion.
5. Pre-Scouting Fields
It is recommended that farmers pre-scout the fields for crop size, ear size, and weed patches. According to Hanna, this should be done so they are prepared to make adjustments to the combine if required. For instance, a stripper bar setting on corn heads should have approximately 1 and 1/4 gap for normal settings. Smaller ears, however, need to be adjusted to a narrower setting.
6. Modify The Machine To Field Conditions
According to Potter, when the crop dries during the heat of the day, fine-tuning a combine can be beneficial. Potter states that each time one changes to a different soybean or corn variety, it is recommended that you check whether or not adjustments need to be made.
7. Review The Grain Quality
When a combine is not offering you high-quality grain, there is a chance that you may have a worn grain elevator chain. Potter states that if the elevator chain damages the grain, it could result in further breakdowns. This is the reason why feeder house modifications need to be made, particularly if the grain quality is deteriorating.
8. Always Be Prepared
Hanna advises that you keep a cell phone or some other method of quickly contacting people for help if you need it. Hanna also recommends having two separate ABC-type fire extinguishers available to use on the combine. A 5-pound model should be kept in the cab, and a 15 or 20-pound model should be kept at ground level. Finally, a small shovel should be kept aboard the combine as this can be helpful to throw dirt on any flames.
9. Do NOT Delay Repairs
Potter insists that proper maintenance begins at the end of the season before the combine machine is packed away. If you are aware of a component that is not working correctly, always repair the item before you forget or before it becomes worse.
10. Always Clean The Machine
Before placing a combine in storage for the winter months, it is recommended that farmers remove the battery, clean the battery, and place it in a heated storage space where it will not freeze.
The skid plates below the grain platform should be cleaned before harvesting. This will ensure that you receive a full range of machine movement. It is also important to clean below the corn snouts on the corn head, clean away any gathered debris on the radiator or cooling fin, clean the air conditioner condenser and hydraulic oil cooler, and clean the gathering chains.
To assist in a farmer’s efforts to both adjust and clean the combine before harvesting we developed a pre-season combine component checklist. Of course, you may want to expand on the following checklist when reviewing the operator’s manual before any harvest.
• Air conditioner – clean the cooling fins, and check the drain tube for clogs.
• Battery – clean and check the battery.
• Auger spirals – check for any bent or worn flighting on the cross augers, and unload the augers.
• Bearings – check the condition and wear of the bearings.
• Filters – replace the filters.
• Cleaning shoe – clean, adjust, and lubricate as necessary.
• Cutter bar – review the bar’s movement and flexibility.
• Corn head – review the condition of the ear savers.
• Rotor rasp or cylinder bars – review the manual for allowable level of wear.
• Feeder house – adjust the setting of the lower drum, and inspect the sheet metal on the underside for cracks, holes, or worn material.
• Drive belts – check for wear, cracks, and excessive tension.