A critical look at farm equipment maintenance

Pennies and dimes add up when considering do-it-yourself and hired out maintenance on farm equipment, trucks and trailers

Winter has returned in full force this week. Artic air Saturday brought in lake effect snow and white out conditions. The cold air makes it undesirable to do much of anything.

We are trying to cycle machinery through the shop. This year, it's all about cutting costs. One place we are focusing on is repairs. Quite obviously some maintenance is not optional. Periodic maintenance of the tractors is a must and will go ahead on regular intervals. Filters and oil will be changed. Every vehicle will undergo a full inspection.

Tillage and planting equipment will also be inspected carefully. This time around, wear parts which are closing in on minimum specs and would normally get changed may have to go a bit longer. We will be generous with the grease and lubricants. We also will check air pressures and wheel bearings in hopes of deterring breakdowns.

Ancillary equipment such as seed tenders, trailers, and application equipment will also make a stop in the shop for a once-over. Lights and wiring seems to be the normal culprits here. These are often inexpensive but necessary repairs. Quite often it takes longer to chase down the issue than it does to fix it. Inspections this week have already revealed a broken weld and some failed seals.

Semis and trailers due for annual inspection will be sent over to the local truck and trailer business. Most of the time there isn't a lot for them as we don't rack up a lot of miles. Sometimes, we will need brake work, a bum tire replaced, or a couple of light bulbs. This service is more for the comfort of knowing everything is up to spec – that way we don't have to wince every time we pass law enforcement officer on the highway.

In general, our strategy is to be frugal, but not cheap. We don't want to neglect equipment as we know how expensive down-time during the planting season really is.

Our goal, as always, is for a smooth spring season.

The opinions of Kyle Stackhouse are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

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