DONT delay in preparing the combine for its out-of-season lay-up. The earlier the job is done, the easier it will be to carry out.
Make every effort to start the work before dust and harvest remains set solid, and vermin have the time to invade the machine looking for a winter bed and a tasty wire, seal or connection through which to chew.
Massey Ferguson combine specialist, Robin Thompstone, recommends that all combines be inspected and laid up as if they were going to be put to work again the very next day. "Leaving the machine ready to go combining immediately will eliminate any worries or doubts about its mechanical condition prior to next years harvest," he says.
As extra insurance, Mr Thompstone advises that the combine and its components be run for half an hour every two weeks. "This will keep belts and chains supple, maintain lubrication to gears and bearings and discourage vermin infestation," he explains.
"If rats or mice are a problem, they can be deterred by placing mothballs throughout the combine such as the grain pan, straw walkers and fuse board."
Before inspecting or working on the combine, all loose chaff and harvest debris needs to be brushed away, preferably in the field. To assist an air line or, ideally, a vacuum cleaner should then be used on all areas where dust has accumulated, both inside and out.
Particular attention should be paid to cleanliness of the threshing mechanism, straw walkers and sieves, especially when the last crop was damp or sticky, for example linseed or beans. Although it is possible to clean the sieves without removing them, a more thorough job will be made if they are removed, washed and dried and the grain pan is vacuumed.
With the machine made as clean as possible, drive it onto a dry, level and well illuminated area of concrete and remove all guards. Note any damaged or bent metal work or components (Pic 1) which should be repaired or replaced.
The best method of inspecting and preparing the combine for out-of-season storage is to start at the front of the machine and work towards the rear, keeping the operators instruction manual close at hand.
First, inspect the pick-up reel for damaged or missing tines and check the condition of the bearings, replacing any worn components.
Moving down to the crop cutting assembly, look for broken or damaged knife sections (Pic 2) and fingers, straightening or replacing as necessary. Check the condition of the knife drive wobble box, draining and changing the oil as specified in the operators manual.
Next, inspect the table auger and retractable fingers for stone damage and wear. Auger flights and bent fingers can usually be straightened, but make sure there has been no damage to the upper surface of the table. An often overlooked component is the auger drive slip clutch (Pic 3) which has wearing parts and may need readjusting to the recommended tension.
While working around the combine, visually inspect the condition of all bearings and bushings (Pic 4). Signs of worn components are lubricant leakage and shaft locations with excess wear on one or more sides.
Suspect bearings or bushings can usually be confirmed by applying pressure to the drive or driven shaft, watching and feeling for movement.
Check the condition of the main crop elevator, the threshing drum and concave, straightening or replacing worn or damaged parts.
Most of the principal drive belts and chains are located beneath removable guards on both sides of the machine. Turning the drive pulleys over by hand (a large cranking handle is normally provided to assist), inspect all belts for signs of wear, cracks and abrasion, replacing as necessary before re-tensioning to the deflection specified in the operators manual.
The same advice applies to chains. Where there is excessive dirt or grease, remove and clean the chain using paraffin or a proprietary chain cleaner. Lubricate lightly, replace and re-tension to the specified setting.
Batteries and electrical components and connections are particularly susceptible to dirt, dust and moisture. Beware of any build-up of debris on battery casings (Pic 5) which can cause shorting and sparking between the terminals. Check wiring for signs of wear and abrasion and ensure that all visible connections are sound and secure. Light bulbs should be checked and replaced at the same time.
For optimum safety and balance, ensure that any damaged or missing stationary and static knives (Pic 6) on straw choppers are replaced with the approved part for the specific straw chopper model. Replacing rotor knives in pairs also helps maintain balance.
Check the condition of all canvas and rubber seals fitted to prevent spills and losses from the grain pan (Pic 7), sieves, stone trap, main crop elevator and unloading auger.
Examining the seals, remove the plates at the bottom of elevators and inspect all of the flights and chains for condition and wear. This can be done at the same time as the combines pulleys are being turned during belt inspection (Pic 8).
If the combine has a water trap built into the diesel fuel line, drain the assembly until diesel runs clearly (Pic 9). The tank should then be filled to the top to prevent condensation.
Guided by the operators instruction manual, check, drain and renew hydraulic and engine oils and all filters (Pic 10). Clean all radiators with a brush and air line, not forgetting the cabs air conditioning system and filters (Pic 11).
Tyres must be checked and inflated to the recommended pressure. For health and safety reasons, the tyres should remain in contact with the ground during storage.
If the combine has been washed down, allow all components to dry before spraying all bare metals with a rust preventive, ideally one which will not affect or contaminate rubber or plastic parts. Pay particular attention to the cutter bar, table auger and pulley sheaves.
Finally, drive the combine to a covered storage area and close all hydraulic rams to prevent rust, turning the rear wheels to full lock to close the steering ram (Pic 12).