Upgrading to a newer combine can provide a grower with increased capacity, improved functionality and less downtime. However, current grain prices are forcing growers to find ways to cut costs, including keeping their old equipment a little longer. With any equipment, routine maintenance is key to keeping the equipment operating efficiently. And with the start of harvest season almost upon us, combine maintenance should be at top of mind for growers.
Here are a few tips for combine maintenance and preparations.
- A quick walk around, checking fluid levels, tire pressure, etc.
- Then begin oil changes, in addition to air, fuel and filter changes. It’s good to note the hour and date with a marker on filters.
- Grease all zerks, and note the machine hour of the service activity in the book (some are every 400 hours).
- Turn on all lights and strobes to ensure they operate.
- Prior to startup, make sure all safety guards, fire extinguishers and safety switches are in working order (neutral start switch, thrashing seat switch, etc.).
- While the combine is running, check all cab monitors to see that they work and respond properly.
- Engage the threshing system, listen for any unusual sounds and indications of wear or imbalance. You may even notice some rodents scatter!
- Prior to shutting down the machine, set your concaves to 0, note all sieve settings (if applicable) and block the head cylinder in the up position.
For the next few steps, turn off machine and disconnect battery.
- Check that the feeder house chain is the right tension and the bars are straight and secured.
- Check the feeder house drum for dents, and ensure that it rolls smoothly.
- Check the floor of the feeder house to ensure that it is free of holes and cracks, minimizing grain loss.
- If applicable, double check the reverser’s oil level.
- Walk around the entire machine, checking for cracked belts and excessively worn chains. Replace if needed, and adjust tensions on chains and belts if they are out of range.
- Open the concave or rotor compartment. Check that all rasp bars, threshing elements and tines are present and are not chipped or bent.
- Check around the rotor/cylinder compartment, and the bottom side of the grain tank for excess wear holes where grain can be lost. Welding or inserting liners may be needed in these cases.
- Whether new or used, this step is most commonly overlooked. The concave was set to zero in the previous steps. Make sure there is no clearance between the concave and rasp/threshing elements. You can do this by rolling the machine by hand. If there is clearance, adjust the concaves to the proper setting.
- While on the ground, check that the clean grain elevator/auger, clipping elevator chains and flightings are in good operating condition. Also, while working low, check for holes or excessive wear at the clean grain trough and underbody pans.
- Moving to the back of the machine, check that all chopper blades and knives are in place and in good working condition.
- While in the back of the machine, check that the cleaning shoe is free of debris and allows air flow from the fan.
- Finally, up top, check the load and unload augers for excessive wear and replace, if necessary.