Keep Up the Good Work

Continued combine maintenance before, during and after harvest minimizes loss and downtime.

By Denny Eilers

Use the off-season to perform maintenance to lessen downtime during harvest.

Use the off-season to perform maintenance to lessen downtime during harvest.

Many farmers approach annual combine maintenance chores like Doug Zieman. “I keep a close eye on the machine during harvest,” he says, “and make mental notes of things to repair or replace during the off-season. It may be an auger wearing thin, a belt or a bearing.”

Zieman, of Postville, Iowa, who, with his father, Mark, harvests up to 3,000 acres of corn and soybeans each fall, evaluates the item in question. If it can make it to the end of harvest, it goes on the off-season repair list. “I like to go through the combine right after harvest, while it’s fresh in my memory,” he says.

Then, he uses the luxury of time to order needed parts and make repairs. As the new harvest approaches, he revisits his checklist “to make sure everything’s working” and to make final adjustments to minimize grain loss.

Does it pay? According to Ron Schuler, Extension agricultural engineer at the University of Wisconsin, a well-maintained and correctly adjusted combine can minimize corn kernel loss to about 1 percent and keep soybean and other small grain losses under a bushel an acre. Plus, less downtime from preventive maintenance keeps your harvest right on schedule.

Combine Maintenance Checklist

Fall harvest is around the corner. Before you hit the field, give your combine a once-over with this 12-point checklist.

  • Clean the machine of dust and dirt for better operation, and to help spot wear and potential problems.
  • Attach headers to combine and make sure they work, checking height and contour controls.
  • On the grain table header, inspect sickle blades and guards, and inspect teeth in augers and reel.
  • On the corn head, inspect gathering chains, and sprockets, and adjust width of stripper plates. Check and adjust drive chains. Remember: Row-unit gearboxes operate as mini-transmissions and need to be checked once a year. Refill with grease or oil depending on age and brand of corn head.
  • Check all belts for wear and replace as needed.
  • Check all chains and bearings for wear; replace chains that can’t be adjusted or tensioned correctly.
  • For axial combines, inspect rotor and concave, checking wires for damage and bars for wear.
  • Check unloading system auger. If edges are sharp like a razor blade, replace.
  • Perform service checks: engine oil, fuel filter, air cleaner, and hydraulic oil.
  • Grease all points per operator’s manual. If a fitting doesn’t take grease, stop and find out why.
  • Safety first … and last. Inspect all lights, flashers and reflectors for travel by road.
  • See your dealer for the Massey Ferguson Axial Combine Setting Guide that lists key adjustments to deliver best machine performance, best grain quality and lowest grain loss.

Learn more about AGCO’s new preventive maintenance program, PM360.