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Machinery department

5 ways to prevent breakdowns

Before heading to the fields this fall, growers need to do a maintenance check on their equipment to keep it in top shape for harvest. Cory Ziegler, AGCO sales engineer for Gleaner/MF combines, offers five suggestions for preventing a costly equipment breakdown.

  1. Adhere to fluid change intervals specified in the operator's manual

    Often, draining old fluids can give an early indication of a potential problem within the system. Lubricating oils and fluids deteriorate with age and use, so follow the manufacturer's recommendations for both intervals. In addition, condensation within enclosed gearboxes contaminates the lubricating medium with moisture. The operator's manual is your best source of information for servicing those machine components that are often overlooked, particularly gearboxes.

  2. Inspect the condition of belts and chains

    This includes the condition and alignment of the sheaves and sprockets. Also routinely check proper tension of drive belts and drive and conveyor chains and adjust them if necessary.

  3. Check for oil/fluid leaks

    The seasonal nature of combine use means that the machine's oil seals and bearing seals will have long periods of inactivity. The seals can become dry and lose their ability to effectively seal against fluid loss. Gearboxes and bearings that run dry will soon fail. To prevent this, use oil additives specially formulated to maintain seals during the off-season. Also, simply operating the combine periodically can keep seals and sealed bearings lubricated and in good condition.

    A thorough inspection before harvest and routine daily inspections of the combine during harvest will reveal leaking seals and allow you to replace them before more costly gearbox or component failure occurs. Routine daily inspections also will provide an early indication of potential problems in other areas of the machine.

    Incorporating a daily inspection with a daily lubrication and fluid check regimen is a good idea.

  4. Change and maintain filters

    Besides the engine oil filters, check the hydraulic system filters and screens in the system. Filter elements are generally replaceable, whereas screens in the system typically require cleaning whenever the fluid is changed. Fresh and clean hydraulic oil is as important as clean engine oil. Engine coolant filters not only remove contaminants from the system, but also maintain the concentration of supplemental coolant additives (SCAs), which are responsible for preventing corrosion of cylinder liners, in the coolant.

    Fuel filters should not be overlooked, because the onset of colder temperatures during fall and spring operations is often the time when neglected fuel filters will become plugged.

    Engine air filters should be cleaned (primary element) and replaced (secondary element) to minimize the risk of potential engine problems. The air conditioning and ventilation system filters also require periodic cleaning and/or replacement to prevent system failure caused by the evaporator freezing over.

  5. Check for worn or damaged parts

    Any parts that have become excessively worn or damaged should be replaced before they can pose a problem during harvest. Some common items to check include chopper knives, conveyor chains (feeder, clean grain and tailings), augers and auger troughs, and threshing system components.

Gauges for electronic engines

The PowerView is a multifunctional tool that displays many different engine or transmission parameters and service codes. The information appears on a graphic backlit LCD screen. The screen can show either a single parameter or a quadrant display that shows four parameters simultaneously. Diagnostic capabilities include fault codes with text translation for the most common fault conditions. Price: $275.

For a more traditional look, microprocessor-based PowerView analog gauges are a series of intelligent gauges that display critical engine data such as rpm, oil pressure, coolant temperature and system voltage. They are available for standard 21/16-in. (52-mm) and 3⅜-in. (86-mm) diameter hole sizes. Price: $69 and $91, respectively.

In addition to the PowerView analog gauges, a combination audible alarm and relay unit fits a standard 2-in. gauge panel opening. Price: $120.

Contact FWMurphy, Dept. FIN, Box 470248, Tulsa, OK 74147, 918/317-4100, visit or

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