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Senior Contributor

Putting away iron for the winter

Just had a good chat with Mark Hanna, ag engineer at ISU. He shared some tips on what to do to put your machinery away for the winter. He said one of the most common mistakes he sees people make is spending just about 15 minutes running through a machine -- especially the combine -- instead of 2-4 hours, which is the amount of time he advises spending checking fluids, belts, battery charge, etc., as well as cleaning things out.

 

So, who's guilty of that 15-minute run-through when you're putting your combines and tractors away for the winter? What are some tips that have served you well over the years?

 

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5 Replies
Veteran Advisor

Re: Putting away iron for the winter

It took me half an afternoon to get the combine ready for winter. 
My #1 tip for combines is to KEEP VERMIN OUT.  I use a combination of bait, and repellents, but the best thing you can do is clean out as much grain as you can.  The most forgotten place is at the top of the feederhouse, there is usually an ice cream bucket's worth of grain up there, or in the rock trap if you have one.  It is a place mice can get, but cats can't.  With today's wiring harnesses, I sure wouldn't want mice gnawing on insulation all winter.
Also, on anything that will sit unused for a long time, I remove the batteries.  I once had one with a tiny hairline crack, that leaked out about half the acid over the winter.  The combine was in the corner of the shed, where I don't venture very often, and when I went to put the trickle charger on in the winter (another good idea, trickle charge idle batteries once or twice over the winter) I had a terrible mess.  Batteries come out now, and are stored on a board in the corner of the shed.

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Advisor

Re: Putting away iron for the winter

I usually clean off the grain and chaff, even washing the machine down on the exterior.  I will grease bearings and run briefly as well to make sure they are able to restrict humidity and moisture.  Grain on top of the cab is a favorite place for racoons to get to.  I even clean out the grain bin, knocking out moldy/trashy grain that catches in corners, opening sumps and drain holes.  One of the best things I did to keep rats/mice out of the cab and hard to reach interior areas, I keep the cab door open and let cats sleep in there.  No wiring troubles anymore.  Locking up the feeder house and keeping the combine a reasonable distance from the walls or other areas where varmin can climb up on is another good trick.  I will check fluid levels and change if the hours are close to the service times.

 

All this takes time.

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Advisor

Re: Putting away iron for the winter

One thing I've always wondered about, and mechanics disagree on, is changing engine oild before or after winter. One thought is to get the old oil , with its dirt and impurites out of the engine before a long sit. Other idea is that there will be alot of condensation over the winter(i live whre it gets cold and many cold/warm fluctuations) inside the engine and would be best to leave it 'till next spring to remove the moisture and accompanying corrosion that can accumulate. I've asked several dealership mechanics from varying brands and cannot get a consensus. I'll guess with 'ya on this one.

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Advisor

Re: Putting away iron for the winter

   I put an open box of moth balls in the cab and 1 on the sieves.  Clean the cab out and take out the cab air filter.   Put out plenty of rat/mouse bait.

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Veteran Advisor

Re: Putting away iron for the winter

I remember in Ag class reading a book by a Mr. Kuchar, who was apparently at one time called the foremost expert on combines alive (At the time he wrote the book).  The book had a lot of advice that is now moot (like how to set the cylinder to not overload your straw walkers) but I do remember he was an advocate of changing the oil at the start of the season, instead of the end.  His opinion was that as long as the oil change time hadn't come yet, there were still enough good additives in the oil to protect the engine, and that the winter's condensation would do more harm in the new oil (until oil change time) than any impurities that were in the old oil.  However, if oil change was due, he recommended to do it because the additives may be played out.

We've been changing oil at the start of the season ever since my dad bought a 1979 1440.  It had 2,000 hours on it then, and the hour meter reads something over 6,000 hours, and has been broken for a while (probably somewhere in the mid-to-upper 6,000 hour range now) and I still used this combine this year, and other than an injection pump, injectors, and a couple leaky lines we fixed, the engine hasn't been touched.

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