By Jason the Mechanic
Now that harvest is over and we all have time to stop and catch our breath a little, it’s time to start the long task of cleaning everything to be put away for the winter. The first question is what to clean first. Taking advantage of this warm weather is nice to clean combines, carts and the grain dryer.
First, we begin with the combines. I always start out by giving them a good dusting with a large leaf blower. After the leaf blower, I use an air compressor and a long wand. We always try to blow out all the nooks and crannies and the air filters.
Once it is clean as it can be, then comes a good wash with the pressure washer. When washing any type of newer equipment always try to avoid directly spraying any electrical connections. Sometimes it can’t be helped, but try your best.
After the long task of a bath, including the radiator and hydraulic cooler, let it sit and dry out. Once it is dry, then grease and oil all fittings and chains to help displace any moisture. Leave your clean grain and tailings conveyor trap doors open.
As for the engine, you can change the oil if needed. Overwintering will not hurt the new oil. Cover any bare metal surfaces with a fresh coat of paint to keep surface rust from starting. When parking your combine for the winter, I recommend disconnecting the batteries for safety. The heads also need a good bath and lube, along with painting any bare surfaces.
The grain carts are pretty simple. Clean out any leftover grain, wash out the inside of the cart; any dust or residue can attract moister, which can start rust. Paint any bare surfaces aside from the auger, and grease all fittings. Don’t forget about the wheel bearings. If they are greaseable give them a fresh shot, if they aren’t, pop the cap off and inspect them. Check the bearing tension, and if the grease looks bad, pull them apart and repack them.
Cleaning the grain dryer is a good longterm investment. Brush all loose material off the outside of the dryer; you can use compressed air if you like. We always blow out all the holes in the screens. Remove all access covers and clean all covers, augers and belts. Grease all fittings. I always cover all electric motors with tarps. It is also a good idea to cover the fan to keep snow and rain out. I know some dryers may have large squirrel cage fans on them, but
it is worth the extra cost of a large tarp to cover it.
Clean all fines and spilled grain from around the area as they will hold moisture and promote rust. Some other important things to do are to moisturize all pumps: gas transfer pumps, sprayer pumps and electric pumps in the containment facilities.
Also checking the antifreeze on all equipment is a must. Minus 25 degrees is a good place to have your coolant mixed to. This will protect your engines well.
We have had a beautiful fall for harvest so let’s take advantage of it and get all our cleaning and winter preparations done so we can be inside the warm shop when the snow flies.