Tractors and equipment tend to break down at the most inconvenient times. Sometimes the issue requires the help of a local mechanic, but sometimes it’s a simple fix. Local service experts share some of the common issues they see in their shops and how to avoid them.
1 Quality fuel
“When oil prices went high, we started seeing lots of equipment come in that had used cheap, poor quality fuel with a high moisture content,” said Conrad Amstutz, store manager for Sterling Farm Equipment in Wooster. Poor quality fuel can result in algae buildup and black slime in the tank, which means plugged tanks and a potential for freezing in the winter. With oil prices being relatively low in the past year, Amstutz said this hasn’t been as much of an issue, but he still recommends purchasing from a reputable supplier, even if it does mean paying a little more.
2 Quality parts
“There are a lot of aftermarket parts out there,” said Amstutz. “Some are good, others are not.” Paying attention to the quality over the cost is important. “There is always a fine line between being thrifty and buying quality parts,” he said. Trying to be thrifty could cost you more in the long run.
3 Keep radiators clean
Ron Susalla, a service writer with Shearer Equipment in Wooster, said one of the most common calls he gets is related to radiators. “They overheat and if they have a newer tractor, it will shut down,” he said. A majority of the time, the problem is fixed by blowing it out with an air hose.
Don’t try to do a bigger job than what your equipment is rated for. The service department at Witmer’s Inc., in Columbiana, sees a lot of equipment repairs due to the operator testing the limits and trying to take on more than what is recommended.
5 Keep it inside
Weather is harder on your equipment than most usage, said a service man at Witmer’s. Rain can get down into nooks and crannies, creating rust or freezing. Keeping equipment in a barn or shelter or covered when not in use for long periods of time is the best way to preserve the life of the equipment.
6 Regular maintenance
Grease and oil is your best friend — at suggested manufacturer intervals, of course. All servicemen agree: Keeping up with the regular maintenance — checking fluids, making sure parts are greased and lubricated, changing the oil — is all crucial to having a smooth operating machine. “There is a reason they put those recommendations (for oil changes, etc.) in the owner’s manual,” said Amstutz. Take care of the equipment and it will last a lifetime.
(Farm and Dairy is featuring a series of “101” columns throughout the year to help young and beginning farmers master farm living. From finances to management to machinery repair and animal care, farmers do it all.)
More Farming 101 columns:
- 5 things young farmers should know about finances
- The farm balance sheet
- 5 items for your farm’s cash flow statement
- Personal and business records: Keep them separate
- What to include in your farm business plan
- How to approach a lender: Tips for getting a farm loan
- How to use microloans to get your farm started
- Saving for the future: 6 tips for young farmers
- How to create a farm safety kit
- 5 tips for child safety on the farm
- 6 tips for livestock safety
- 4 tips for transporting livestock
- 5 ways to better understand tractor stability
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