6 farm equipment hacks

Tractor lighting and visibility
New lighting and marking requirements, set by the U.S. Department of Transportation, sets a standard for any equipment manufactured after June 22, 2017. (Farm and Dairy file photo)

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.

Farming 101: Equipment Hacks




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.

4 Capacity
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.

Sources: Sterling Farm Equipment, Wooster; Shearer Equipment, Wooster; Witmer’s Inc., Columbiana.

(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.)

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  1. It was great to learn not to do a bigger job than your equipment is rated for. On our farm, we have been using our tractor to get bails of hay up to the barn attic. Our tractor is looking a little beat. We will be sure to get something else to do the job right!

  2. I really appreciate these hacks when it comes to farm equipment. When I was working on a local farm growing up we had to regularly maintain all the equipment because of how cold it was. Sometimes it would break down and we would always be buying used farm equipment for sale.

  3. That’s good to know that regular maintenance would help to keep your equipment in good condition. I am thinking about getting some used farm equipment and I would want to make it last as long as possible. I’ll have to make sure to maintain it well if I do decide to get it so that it can last a long time with no problems.

  4. I liked that you said that one thing to consider when you own a farm is to hire a professional to perform routine maintenance on your agricultural equipment and supplies. I would imagine that routine maintenance would help make sure that the equipment was up and running at all times and all year round. I would be sure to hire a professional for maintenance on my farming equipment in order to make sure that I could continue working and creating a livelihood for my family.

  5. Thanks for these farm equipment hacks. I like that you mentioned that it’s important to keep radiators clean. I think it would also be smart to look into renting farm equipment you didn’t need all year round too.


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