Emma: Rain, and a Few Breakdowns

Rain has come to Andale, Kan. We had a whole week of hit and miss and the rain has finally won. This past week storm clouds have been rolling in trying to shut us down every day. It’s just been a normal occurrence since we’ve arrived. This is definitely a change from what we’ve seen in Oklahoma where we would do just about anything for a little moisture.

Yesterday was a stressful day. To set up the stressful situation let me point out that last year we had an engine in one of our combines go ca-put. We had it working and ready for testing and it ran like a hot knife through butter in Oklahoma. When we got to Kansas we noticed something wasn’t quite right. We were able to diagnose oil getting into the water and this causes a serious issue. Luckily it wasn’t doing the opposite and getting water into the oil – which can be very costly.

Water getting into the oil is a serious issue, but at least we know it’s not the engine that is the problem. Until we have time to figure out exactly what the root of the problem is we’ll keep going on with what we know will not hurt the engine. We’ve been changing the water in the radiator, flushing it out and cleaning the oil out as best we can every day – sometimes twice as day – until we can get the issue resolved.

We had a late last night trying to get the wheat harvested before the rain hit. We ran until midnight and on the last round one of our combine headers drive shaft broke. This means the head is not in working condition until we can find some parts. It’s a real good thing that we are having a rain delay today so we can play catch up and make repairs.

Typically we have quick breakdowns like guards, sections, or a bearing here and there. Overall we’re normally pretty lucky and stay up and running. We do have a moving service truck stocked with inventory of the parts we may need on the road. We even had a part that a local dealership did not. We try to carry everything that our combine might need. Some of the items in the truck are bearings, belts, chains, sections, guards, sickles and pulleys. This helps keep our breakdown time at a minimum. We also carry the tools we’ll need. That being said, we can’t carry every single part, so we do have to rely on a dealership once in a while.

During the winter months we repair machines and do maintenance work for some local farmers. We do preventative maintenance on our machines that includes changing feeder chains every three years, chopping knives every four and setting up a rotation so that they remain balanced. Balance is important because of the speed the chopper runs can cause major internal problems that can cause the machine to not run at all (at least not with some hard earned cash).

Some of the minor preventative items include changing bearing, belts and chains and making sure the sickles are good. We also make sure our spare parts are in good condition too. We try keeping everything in ship-shape so that we’re able to run an efficient operation. We do this by simply being prepared.

The sun peeks through the clouds.

The humidity was so high we couldn’t crank up the machines. You can see we have the combine header off the combine ready to make repairs and replace the shaft. We still did our regular maintenance like fueling, greasing and checking everything over.

This is the field where we were cutting, now being rained on.

On rainy days like this when the kids have to stay inside, little Elizabeth and Alexander like to play with toy combines and tractors. It was so funny to watch them because Elizabeth was being the commentator. She would tell Alexander what to do over the “two-way-radio” while they unload on-the-go. We gotta teach them young!

This was a picture I took this morning before the rain hit. It makes me smile. 🙂

Be safe and God bless!

Emma can be reached at emma@allaboardharvest.com. All Aboard 2011 is sponsored by High Plains Journal and DuPont Crop Protection.

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