Maintain machinery before winter storage Performing simple maintenance on machinery before parking it for the winter can prevent many long-term problems, said Bill Campbell, Extension farm machinery and safety specialist at South Dakota State University.
Campbell assesses the situation from two standpoints, outside and inside the machine.
The outside is mainly cosmetic–cleaning off the crop residue and external dirt that accumulated through the course of field work season.
"You need to get as much as possible of the crop residue and general dust and dirt washed off so you don't encourage rodents to take up residence and moisture doesn't condense and collect in the residue and cause corrosion and rust," he said.
Rodents can do long-term structural damage to a machine. "Encouraging rodents to live in equipment also encourages them to do other destructive things such as chewing on the insulation on wires and the rubber on hydraulic hoses," said Campbell.
Inside maintenance refers to the engine, transmission, battery, and filters. A fresh oil change prior to storage in the shed helps remove contaminates that accumulated during the harvest season, he said.
"After you've changed the oil and filter, go ahead and run the machine around two and 10 hours to make sure all the internal workings are re-lubed with the anti-corrosive ingredients in the new oil," recommended Campbell.
Changing the air and fuel filter will simply give a person a head start on next spring. "This type of service could wait until life slows down in the middle of winter," he said.
The fuel tank should be full prior to storage to prevent moisture condensation in the tank over the long winter months. Fuel treatments can be added to help prevent moisture collection, as well.
One may also want to determine whether the type of storage for the equipment is conducive to extending the life of batteries.
"In extremely cold weather storage � an unheated storage building � you may want to pull the batteries out and store them in a heated or not as cold environment so (the batteries) are not as likely to drain down or freeze up and break inside the equipment," he said.
For producers pulling double duty out of equipment, using a machine for fall tillage then as a chore tractor in the winter, scheduled maintenance is important.
Campbell recommends changing the oil and checking over the engine when the work requirements of a piece of equipment are changed.
"Perhaps you should tailor the viscosity of the oil more closely to the conditions of the tractor," he said. "An oil that will work under long-term hard tillage situations in the semi-warm fall period is very different than what you need in very cold frequent-start conditions for chore tractors."
In all cases, the coolant system should be full so the machine is protected to the temperature the tractor is either going to be operated under or stored under during the winter months, said Campbell.
For more information, contact your local Extension Educator or Bill Campbell, 605-688-5669 or campbell.bill@ces.