You’ve been living life out where the pavement ends now for a couple of years, and your machine shed is no longer empty. Daily life is a joy and, for the most part, pretty smooth, but now your tractor has sufficient hours to require service, the mower’s cut is really ragged, and the tires on the utility vehicle go flat overnight. In some ways, it feels like the party’s over — what can you do?
If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to take a good look at the service and owners manuals for your machine, grab some tools and face down those routine tractor maintenance monsters. Once you engage your machines more intimately, you’ll save yourself a ton of money, feel proud and enjoy knowing that your machinery will go the distance.
Tractor Maintenance Tips
Tackle a few fluid fills, filter changes, engine oil changes, mower blade installations and tire repairs, and you can move on to replacing the torn tie-rod seals on your four-wheel drive tractor’s steering axle. Looking at a $350 bill? For about $100 in parts and supplies, you can do it yourself in less time it would take to get your machine to town, have the service performed and haul it home again. As your experience and confidence build, don’t be afraid to take on a clutch adjustment — or even a clutch replacement on something smaller like a garden tractor. You’ll want to have a bit more experience under your belt, or a knowledgeable friend on hand before changing out a clutch on a larger compact or full-sized tractor or pickup truck.
If the machinery maintenance bug bites you in a significant way, you will be able to take good advantage of used machinery buys of all kinds.
Beyond Tractor Maintenance
That rotary cutter rusting away in your neighbor’s hedgerow might be had for the effort of hauling and who knows? It might just need some bearings or universal joints replaced.
For the more ambitious, you might consider taking in a homeless old tractor and giving it new life in your shop. If you fix it up too nicely, you might not save a ton of dough, but make it a project that your daughters and sons can enjoy with you, and that machine’s value will become priceless, no matter the dollar cost.
Tractor Oil Change Steps
1. Run engine up to temperature
2. Position pan beneath drain plug(s) and remove them
3. Remove engine oil filter while the oil is draining
4. Check engine oil filter seat for stuck gasket material — clean or scrape as necessary
5. Apply thin coat of oil to oil filter gasket
6. If filter is mounted vertically, fill it with clean oil and install
7. Install drain plugs
8. Fill crankcase with oil — check manual for capacity — check level with dipstick
9. Fire up the engine, check for leaks
10. Shut down engine, check oil level on the dipstick and add if necessary.
Watch the full episode! Hank shares hints like these in each episode of Tough Grit. Visit Tough Grit online to view this episode and many more. The tractor maintenance hints above appeared in Episdoe 12, “Reach for the Sky.”
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.
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