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Tips for tackling winter storage

Experts share their secrets for putting machinery away for the season.

Now that your fields are harvested and are ready for spring planting, it's time to prepare your machinery for winter storage/spring planting.

"I find the best time to thoroughly inspect our equipment and get it prepared for spring is right when we get everything put away," says Scott McPheeters, Team FIN member from Gothenburg, NE. "That way all the idiosyncrasies or problems are fresh in our minds; plus some parts take up to 6 weeks for delivery."

McPheeters has an extensive maintenance checklist system for practically everything on his farm.

He and his three full-time and four part-time mechanics adhere to it, religiously.

His computerized spreadsheets are broken down by type of machine (combine, tractor or implement), pickups and even household repairs. Because there are about 35 engines on the farm, he has a column just for antifreeze changes.

Here are some suggestions for your maintenance checklist from Harold Tucker, lubricants technical director, Phillips 66:

Overhaul, change oil and all filters and lubricate; drain and refill oil.

Observe used oil; this is a good time to get it analyzed.

Clean the engine compartment and outside of machine with a pressure washer; remove crop residue from all equipment.

Grease press wheels and clutch parts on planters and fittings on tractors and combines.

Remove batteries, clean contact points and reinstall batteries; apply a coating of grease onto terminals to prevent corrosion; keep batteries fully charged to prevent freezing.

Unless it's been thoroughly winterized, run each piece of equipment at low speed for up to _1/2 hr. periodically throughout the winter.

Remove rust and repaint equipment.

McPheeters says he even paints the exhaust stacks on his tractors each year. He adds that his regimen for maintaining and storing equipment is twofold: to keep machines in tip-top shape and for eventual resale value. "You get a reputation among fellow farmers on how you keep your equipment. I was about to buy a tractor at a sale recently, until I heard who owned it."

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