Winter is in the forecast for some regions of Canada and the United States, and as harvest wraps up, it’s time to start thinking about storing your equipment. If you’re completely knackered from the go-go-go of harvest, sit down, have a cup of coffee, read this and then begin delegating.
As tempting as it is to drive straight into the quonset from the field, it is a definite no-no-no. I spoke to Tyson Kohlman, heavy duty technician with WAJAX Power Systems about some of the work that must be done before putting equipment away for the winter. In this article, we cover some of the basics, and answer some of the questions you’ve been too shy/tough to ask.
So, let’s run through ten steps you should take to prepare your equipment for storage.
1. Clean it Off
Turn on the air compressor, find the shop vac and get the high pressure washer fuelled up! It’s crucial that equipment is put away clean. Straw, chaff and other residues can absorb moisture and cause corrosion, while also providing a convenient resource for any rodents looking to move in (ew).
Use air pressure for whatever you can, and rely on water for the stubborn residues, taking care to never aim directly at bearing seals.
Wax/polish if you have an ego and/or crazy amounts of time.
And always ensure the equipment is nice and dry before putting into storage.
2. Fill it Up
Here’s hoping the diesel shortage isn’t affecting you.
“The fuel tank should be filled during prolonged storage times to prevent water from condensing and accumulating inside the tank,” says Kohlman, who also urges producers to check and drain water traps to prevent freezing.
3. Change the Oil
There’s a lot of debate around whether oil changes should be done pre or post-storage. Kohlman encourages producers to change engine oil and filters in the fall, “to remove any contaminates before long storage periods.”
4. Check Coolant
Now is a good time to check the coolant strength and top up with antifreeze and/or water, as necessary. A 60:40 ratio of antifreeze to water is ideal, says Kohlman.
5. Get Greasy
“All the bearings and moving components need to be greased and oiled to prevent water from entering,” explains Kohlman. “The high polished surfaces inside bearings easily rust with any sign of moisture, causing future problems.”
By now you’re a professional at this; you’ve likely been greasing equipment daily for the last two weeks. Take another ten minutes to do it one last time. Save future you from the consequences.
6. Check Tires
“Ensure that all tires are filled to proper specifications,” urges Kohlman. “A tire that is stored with low pressure can result in cracked sidewalls, creating extra costs in the spring.”
7. Play Tetris
Putting equipment away can be a challenge. Make sure your shed/quonset has good lighting, and get at least one extra pair of eyes on the ground to help you align machinery. Make sure you can always see your partner, and feel free to draw diagrams of potential equipment arrangements in the dirt beforehand. Consider arranging based on what needs to be removed first next year. Don’t do something I would (like park a grain truck that isn’t a fan of starting with the engine in the centre of all the other equipment).
8. Heed Hydraulics
Take the time to take pressure off the hydraulic system. A few blocks and the ability to pull a lever can save hydraulic shafts from rust, and needless pressure on the system.
9. Battery Basics
Kohlman: “Ideally it is best to completely remove the batteries from any piece of equipment if it is going to be stored in unheated shop or outside. Batteries have a tendency to naturally discharge over time. As a battery’s voltage drops, the likelihood that it will freeze increases. If the batteries are unable to be removed it is recommended to start and run the equipment every month for 10-15 mins, to keep the battery charged. When batteries are removed they should be stored in a well ventilated and enclosed building, to protect them from the severe weather changes. Proper ventilation is needed, since batteries are filled with sulfuric acid and can emit flammable fumes. Before putting batteries in storage they should be fully charged and inspected to ensure the water level inside is above the internal cell. A fully charged battery, when tested will have over 12.4 volts. Batteries should be tested periodically throughout the storage period to ensure they aren’t loosing voltage, and if so should be charged.”
10. Say No to Mice!
There’s nothing quite like turning the heater on in the spring and getting a face full of confetti, and the sickening smell of mice, dead or alive. It’s not only disgusting, it’s a health hazard.
You’ve done a good job of cleaning right? “The best way to keep mice out of equipment is to ensure that you aren’t providing a move-in-ready home,” explains Kohlman. “Clean out the interior of the cab, removing straw, grain, papers etc.”
What other ways can we prevent mice from entering our equipment? I took that question to twitter! Here are some of the responses:
Kohlman also advises producers to thoroughly inspect equipment for openings in the ventilation system, gaps in paneling or missing weather stripping. For gaps around the outside of the cab, fill with stainless steel wool.
What’s your mouse-prevention strategy? Have you tried any of the suggested deterrents? Were they successful?
So, before you hang up your boots and put your hat under the stairs…Wait… Anyway, don’t take shortcuts. Ensure that your equipment is prepared for a winter in solitary confinement, and whatever you are working on, be safe and make some time to enjoy the fall colours with your family. Enjoy peace of mind knowing you put it away ready to go. And go find your mukluks. Happy October!