Farm and Ranch Oct 2018


tioner with lubricity builder is important. Otherwise pumps and injectors may not work as well and may be more likely to stick. Some of the fuel com- panies offer a premium fuel that contains con- ditioners, but more is needed for cold weather operation, he said. “Keeping water drained out of the fil- ters and the supply tank makes a big differ- ence in the winter” too, Evans said. Otherwise there can be big prob- lems. Ernie Mehl, a North Platte farmer, said water can also cause problems if allowed to remain, and freeze, in

fertilizer pumps and lines on tractors. He circulates an antifreeze solution through the system to prevent that, he said. Batteries have a hard- er time doing their job in winter, making it all the more important that terminals and con- nections are clean and connections are tight. Check the fluid level too, if batteries are re- fillable, adding only battery acid or distilled water. Tap water has too high mineral content to be suitable for batteries. Tire pressure goes down as the tempera- ture drops, lowering load capability, Evans said. “These big com- bines,” in particular, “carry so many bushels — they have an un- believable amount of weight on the tires,” so tire pressure is critical to minimizing wear on equipment. “Low air pressure will ruin tires on trucks, tractors, and combines,” he said. Check for cracks in

By GEORGE HAWS george.haws@

Being ready for winter can save machinery op- erators a lot of time and frustration, and some- times a lot of money — and a lot of prepared- ness comes down to the fuel, the tires and the battery. That is ac- cording to Jack Evans, service manager at Plains Equipment in North Platte. “Our diesel is a dry- er product than it used to be” and fuel systems operate under lot a higher pressure, Evans said. “All the slick has been taken out of the fuel” so a good condi-

George Haws / The North Platte Telegrap Ernie Mehl of North Platte inspects the belts and hoses on a tractor, as h prepares it for winter storage.

the tires and make sure there is enough tread for traction and steer- ability, too. Tires with inadequate tread are not safe on icy roads. Along with that, re- member to lubricate bearings on combines and other equipment, Evans said, to increase wear life and reduce down time. Then check

the condition of fan belts and hoses, look- ing for cracks, bulges in hoses or other signs of wear, and tightening clamps as needed. Evans said this is a good time of year to put a test strip into a sam- ple of the machine’s coolant/antifreeze to see if it is still in good condition. Antifreeze that is in poor condi- tion will allow rust and “crud” to build up, along with acidity that will eat up the radia- tor and cooling system, and must be drained and flushed from the system. The antifreeze should be bright in col- or and clean. If it is, and the test strip shows it is only a little off, an additive can be used.

Finally, a tune- up, especially on high mileage vehicles, can help them start bet- ter and keep in better shape. Engine heaters can help a lot too, said Evans, particularly on diesel burning equip- ment. Anything that helps engines start bet- ter and warm quicker, will reduce wear and make for better oper- ating experiences over the winter, he said. Mehl said once har- vest winds down, he uses wintertime to replace worn and cor- roded bearings on coulters, change the oil in machinery, and do other maintenance tasks, so he can be ready to go again next spring.

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