Someone not involved in practical farming might wonder what all the fuss was over grease nipples. After all, how could this tiny part, innocently carrying out its allotted task of getting grease to key components, be the cause of such frustration and annoyance?
The answer is that grease nipples are like people. Most of them are decent, upstanding types, quietly getting on with their lives. But anyone who’s ever wielded a grease gun in anger will know that some are rogues, responding to neither reason nor force.
Like saboteurs, they hide away in dark places, causing trouble and chaos when no one is looking and often you don’t know they’re there until it’s too late.
So we asked you to name your least favourite grease nipples, the ones that can only be got at by feats of contortion and cunning that would make Harry Houdini sweat.
You know the ones – the sort that nestle in pto universal joints and can only be properly greased by a team of three dwarfs and a trained ferret. Or the ones deep within the innards of combines or foragers that require a certificate in pot-holing to get to.
If you’re a machinery manufacturer reading this, we’re not having a cheap shot at you. Most nipples are pretty easy to get at and we appreciate that it’s probably difficult to find an ideal site for a nipple.
Nonetheless some of the nipples you provide seem to be expressly designed to test our powers of physical suppleness and mental resourcefulness. Are they intended to be part of the Duke of Edinburgh scheme? Is there a prize somewhere that we win by getting to them all?
Anyway, thanks to the 20 or so of you that sent in nominations for the prestigious title of Britain’s Most Awkward Grease Nipple on our FWi forum site. They were exactly the sort of fear-inducing items that we were looking for.
Your entries could more or less be grouped under the following headings.
- Nipples that require you to stick the grease gun nozzle through an SLH (silly little hole). Sounds reasonable enough, but often the nipple is at an angle, so you can’t come straight on to it. Trial and error required – ie lots of trial, lots of error.
- Hidden nipples. Lots of you railed at nipples that were obscured by hydraulic hoses. JCB and Manitou telehandlers and Chafer self-propelled sprayers got a mention.
- Fussy nipples. These are the ones that will only take grease if some particular part of the machine is in exactly the right place. On an M8925 telehandler, as one of you pointed out, when the boom is up you can see the nipple, but there’s not enough space to do anything about it. When the boom’s down the hoses block your access and view. Combine discharge augers are another example – on certain combines (you know who you are) you have to have it at precisely the right angle to get to one of the four nipples.
- Important-but-tucked-away nipples. Why is it that the nipples that only need greasing once a season are invariably really easy to get to, while some of the once-a-day items (or those that need a large quantity of grease) are hidden away? One of you with a well-used Claas Dominator 76 made that point.
- Nipples you never knew you had. This is a fascinating one. Here’s a quote: “Ha ha, had a New Holland TX36 combine. Drove it for 12 seasons and it was only on the day it finally got loaded on the low-loader that I saw three nipples underneath on bearings I never knew existed.”