A few simple steps before storing for the winter are keys to machine performance and long life.
After a long summer in the hayfield, it's tempting to simply back haying equipment into the shed for the winter without giving it a second thought. However, conducting a thorough end-of-season inspection and writing down maintenance needs while they are still top of mind can be time well spent.
That's the advice of Dean Morrell, product marketing manager for Hesston by Massey Ferguson hay products and 35-year-veteran of the quality hay business.
"A full end-of-season visual inspection helps ensure you're well prepared to complete needed repair and maintenance projects during winter downtime," says Morrell. "Months down the road it can be hard to remember that noise you wanted to check out before next season. By writing it down, you have a big head start on maintenance that will leave your equipment in top condition, ready for another productive season." Good machine care, with proper maintenance and repair not only helps ensure proper operation and long life, it helps maintain resale value, Morrell points out.
A clean machine simplifies fall maintenance and inspection. It also helps minimize rust which can start where dirt and moisture collect on a machine.
Begin with removing dirt, dust and hay debris by sweeping the machine or using high-pressure air or a power washer. While balers often carry the most dirt and hay material, it's best to use air when cleaning balers because of their many moving parts and opportunities to create rust. High-pressure washing is best for cleaning mower or conditioner cutter bars.
Rakes as well as self-propelled and pull-type windrowers can be pressure-washed to remove dirt, dust and hay debris.
Although some maintenance tasks can be deferred until winter, at a minimum grease machines and change oil and filters before parking. Balers and self-propelled windrowers typically require the most care before going into winter storage. Rakes generally require minimal maintenance, but it's still important to give them the attention they need before storing for the winter, says Morrell. He offers these "quick tips" for end-of-season maintenance and reminds producers to follow the operator's manual and manufacturer's recommendations.
- Begin your inspection at the header, looking for wear and components which should be replaced.
- For sickle-bar headers, replace cutter bar teeth and ledger plates. Replace the guards once yearly when storing machines or add this to your list for completion during winter.
- On disk mowers, replace knives and rotate or replace worn turtles covering the knives.
- Grease all lift-system wear points.
- For self-propelled machines, be sure to change engine oil and filters.
- Replace or blowout all air filters, including the cab air filter.
- Check all belts for checking and signs of wear. Inspect tires for wear that might require tire replacement. Inflate to the required air pressure.
- Check and blow dirt and debris from radiators. On machines with "smart" reversing fans such as the VVCoolTM system found on Hesston WR Series self-propelled windrowers, radiator screens already should be clean and free of dirt and hay.
- Sweep or use air pressure to remove dirt, dust and hay debris. Aggressive washing should be avoided to reduce the opportunity for rust.
- Grease all grease zerks on wear points.
- Change hydraulic-system filters.
- After changing hydraulic filters, run the machine to purge air from the system and reduce the opportunity for condensation to form during the winter.
- Check gearbox fluid levels and change as recommended in the operator's manual.
- Replace broken pickup tines.
- Oil chains before placing in storage.
- On round balers, inspect belts for checking and other wear. Loosen belt tensioners so they are not sitting under full tension through the winter.
- Clean the rake to remove dirt, dust and hay debris.
- Add grease at all grease points.
- Replace pickup teeth as needed.
- Conduct a thorough walk-around inspection to identify other service and maintenance needs, including rotating the basket and raking wheels to identify worn bearings.
- Check and repack wheel bearings annually. Inspect tires for wear and weather checking; inflate to the correct pressure.
Hesston has been providing innovation and solutions to farmers since 1947 and is the industry leader in hay harvesting products. For more information about Hesston by Massey Ferguson products or to find a dealer near you, visit www.masseyferguson.com/hesston.