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Recondition Flooded Farm Equipment Quickly

NDSU ag engineer gives do-it-yourself advice.

If the floodwater only covered the tires and wheels of tractors or other equipment, reconditioning can be limited to removing wheels and cleaning and repacking wheel bearings, says John Nowatzki, North Dakota State University agricultural machine systems specialist.

However, if the equipment was submerged, a comprehensive reconditioning is necessary.

Here are some suggestions for reconditioning flooded farm machinery:

  • Thoroughly clean the exterior.
  • Overlubricate plain and antifriction bearings equipped with grease fittings to flush out dirt and water with fresh lubricant. Sealed bearings still may be sealed. Replacing them may save time and problems during later operation.
  • Remove, clean, lubricate and reinstall all wheel bearings.
  • Prevent rust on brightly polished working parts by cleaning and applying a rust preventive coating.

Tractors and auxiliary power units that were submerged up to the engines and power trains require extensive reconditioning. Flooded tractors, trucks or cars should not be towed.

"Engines and power train components should be completely disassembled for cleaning by a competent mechanic," Nowatzki says. "If the equipment is covered by manufacturers' warranties, consult with the dealer to make sure reconditioning services don't void warrantees."

Suggestions for the "do-it-yourself" reconditioning of tractors include:

  • The fuel injection systems of diesel engines must be inspected by a diesel mechanic.
  • Drain the crankcase oil and remove the oil pan. Clean inside the engine with a cleaning solvent.
  • Replace the oil pan and fill the crankcase with a new lubricant. Replace the oil filter.
  • Remove the cylinder head. Clean it with a solvent and then lubricate the piston rings by putting oil on the cylinder walls. Replace the head.
  • For carbureted engines, remove the carburetor, intake and exhaust manifolds to dry and clean them.
  • Flooded distributors, generators and starters should be disassembled, cleaned and dried.
  • Drain and flush the fuel tanks.
  • Drain and flush cooling systems.
  • Disassemble, clean and adjust the brakes and clutches that were underwater.
  • Drain and flush transmission, differential and steering gear housings. Refill with new lubricant.
  • Clean, dry and repack all wheel bearings.

For more information on flooding issues, go to  

Source: NDSU Extension Communications

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