Perform Farm Machinery Repairs in the Off Season

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Don’t wait till the last minute to see if your machinery is ready to go to work. “Too often a person gets ready to cut or bale hay (or mow grass, or spread manure), and the machinery needs maintenance or you have to change the tire on the tractor,” said Robert Coleman, PhD, Extension Specialist, University of Kentucky.

The same is true of using any equipment--such as snow blowers or weed eaters--during any season.

Plan ahead and figure out what needs to be done. It pays to do repairs and maintenance on the off season, instead of when you need to use that piece of machinery.

When you get done with haying or mowing, for instance, that is the time to replace worn parts, get everything cleaned up and have equipment greased for the next season. Then next spring everything is ready to go. Or before you go into winter and need the snow blade on the tractor or ATV, get any required maintenance done before you need that piece of equipment.

“If you don’t know how to do these things yourself and you rely on service providers in your community, it’s easier to get them to do your repairs during their off season," noted Coleman. "They may be more willing to work on your tractor project during winter. Schedule it while they have time, rather than when everybody else is having problems. During haying or mowing season, the waiting line could be pretty long.”

Coleman added, “If you stored your machinery over summer or winter, don’t wait until the last minute to get it out, clean it off, and see what condition it’s in. Make sure it will start and work properly—before you have to use it for haying, or for spreading manure or compost over the fields, or plowing the snow, or mowing, or whatever. Have a plan. Think ahead.”

Ed Snook, rancher near Tendoy, Idaho, always tries to do oil changes in the spring and fall when the machinery is not in the field. “Prior to haying season, I also go through all the equipment and see if any parts need to be replaced,” he said.

For equipment that doesn't have an off season, such as your farm or stable tractor, talk to your mechanic and determine when his "slack" time is and arrange to have your equipment serviced during that time. The mechanic will appreciate that, and you will have equipment back and working sooner than if you needed regular maintenance done during a busy season. That regular maintenance should also keep your equipment running when you need it most!

If a person does repairs (or has them done) in the off season, there’s also more opportunity to get discounts on parts. “Many implement dealers and parts/supply outfits have specials—maybe 10% off—if you order parts in January and February," said Snook. "They are trying to make some money during their slack time and will often discount some of their parts during a certain time of year.”

Snook added, “You can’t save money every time, because often you’re faced with summer breakdowns you have to fix immediately.”

Some of these breakdowns can be prevented, however, if you go through equipment ahead of time and replace worn parts.

His advice regarding self-sufficiency in repairing machinery is to not buy new equipment. “I can’t fix the new models with their new technology, but I can fix any of the older equipment," Snook said. "I have a hard time figuring out the new ones, especially those that have computers in them. We have a lot of old tractors that are still running very well. We have an old 40-20 John Deere from 1968 that still works great. As long as a person takes care of these, they will last a long time. It’s when they become neglected or abused is when things start going bad.”

A person can extend the life of their equipment a long time with proper maintenance.