With snow starting to blanket potato fields and Christmas just around the corner, farmers – and harvesters too – are ready for a well-earned winter rest. But don’t close those shed doors quite yet. Investing time maintaining your harvester at this time of year will pay off in the long-run.
Get ‘er clean
Mud and dirt are more than messy looking — they can do damage to your machinery if left on through the long winter months. Where possible, brush or power-wash your equipment before storage.
Watch the water
Though clean is good, water in bearings or moisture that causes rust is really bad. If you opt to power wash, try to stay away from your bearings. After washing, grease your bearings and run the machine long enough to push any water out. And, only wash on a warm and preferably windy day so your machine fully dries before it goes into storage. If conditions are too cool or wet for good drying, it’s much better to put the machine away dirty than to risk power washing and causing rust.
Now is better than later
Some farmers opt to do their harvester maintenance and rebuilds in fall/winter, others choose to wait until pre-harvest. I definitely encourage the first option. Getting your maintenance done during the quiet of winter often saves producers money, since factories often offer slow-season discounts. Even more importantly, maintenance now means you can go into next year’s harvest season calmly, confident your machinery is fully ready to work.
If you really have to wait…
If winter maintenance just isn’t your thing, at the very least do a quick once-over on your machine before storing it away. Check your bearings, sprockets, webs, etc. Write a list of any mechanical concerns you had during harvest this year, and any repairs and upgrades that might be necessary next year. Given the million things you need to remember and think of once the season is underway, that list will be worth its weight in stress-saving gold in the lead-up to harvest next year.
Machines will offer a longer and more problem free operating life if they are stored out of the rain and weather, particularly given today’s high-tech electronics and sensors. Too, the machine will look much better for resale if stored indoors. If indoor storage isn’t an option for the entire machine, pull out and store your webs indoors.
… and Relax
Cause you deserve it.