Equipment – Special Focus
My focus this year was equipment. The first task I had was to make a list and identify every piece of equipment on the farm. My list will need to be modified and added to because as the season rolled on more equipment emerged out of overgrown grass and other equipment never worked in the first place. Troubleshooting was eminent from all of the challenges we had with equipment failure this year. In the beginning of the season our main work horse, the ATV, would no longer start. After checking loose cables, gas lines, and the spark plug we realized that there was a more serious problem going on. I checked the internet with the ATV’s make, year, and model and all signs pointed to a problem with the electronic motor start system. This was further backed up when a proper electrical test determined it needed a new starter system. The ATV spent over a month and half in the shop and we were left to improvise with the equipment we had working to spread compost, assist in planting, and move vegetables and materials around the farm. We were very happy when the ATV came back from the shop.
I started the season with retrofitting a trailer top to a new chassis. This was a great exercise in simple metal work and structural design. Out of tube stock and bolts I was able to customize an attachment point that has held strong all season with a lot of use. General maintenance started with locating and greasing zerks (nozzles that the grease gun attaches to) on all of the machines so they were ready for the field. A procedure was placed when operating all machinery that entailed checking the fuel, coolant, and oil levels. Even though we tried to do this before each use, the hectic frenzy of trying to get things done when time allows led to some mistakes. We ran out of gas in the field and towed the tractor in with MR’s Volvo to only realize the tractor needed gas. Gasoline was put in the Kubota mower instead of diesel, something that was done several times in the past years as well. For the most part machines were fixed and we made do with what was available.
Here are some notes from the maintenance log:
John Deer 2240: Hydraulic hose leaked and it seems to be because of the new fitting attachment. We put Teflon tape and liquid rubber that created a gasket to solve the problem.
Maschio Rototiller: Gear box set to medium low. This caused the Ford 4600 to overheat after two passes of rototilling. We set the gearbox to low and the overheating has stopped.
Bachtold Mower: Blade would not engage when the lever was pressed. Everything seemed to work mechanically. The nut at the bottom of the mower was tightened and allowed the blade to be engaged.
Spring Hoe tires: After pulling the implement out of overgrown grass we discovered the tires were rotted. MR found a local dealer for new tires, but we lost valuable hours to get into the field before the rain began
The reality of farming is that not everything works when you need it to. Also, farming is dependent on weather and field conditions so failed equipment can be very disruptive. This season I had the opportunity to use all of the field implements to turn new ground, which require minimal maintenance and a working tractor. I also was able to trouble shoot small engine machines, which are critical in bed preparation and field care. I have learned that we need to have a station that is organized and in a central location to fix our small machines and tractors. We need to label our fuel clearly as well. Our hand tools we use in the field can also be reorganized for better care and clarity for potential newcomers. As the season slows down I am looking forward to placing some procedures in place dealing with equipment and finally doing the much needed oil change on all of the tractors.