Introduction: Preventative Maintenance

Here is a quick video on some maintenance.

Step 1: Getting Started

First off, we need to know what we are trying to accomplish. The task includes greasing the combines, checking the belts and chains, lubricating the chains, and just a quick overall check of the machine to maybe spot a loose bolt or something of that sort. But for this job, let’s just focus on greasing and lubricating. So a grease gun, an extra grease cartridge, and a can of chain lube will be needed. Additional equipment or tools may be required if problems are found during the inspection or if the chains need to be tightened, repaired, or changed. If the gun runs out of grease at any time, screw the top of the gun off and pull the handle at the bottom of the grease gun out until it clicks or stays. Next, pull the empty cartridge out of the gun and discard it. To insert the new cartridge, take the plastic cap off the bottom of it and insert it into the gun. This part will go in first. Then take the other lid off by pulling on the tab. It’s just like opening a can of soup. Lastly, screw the lid of the gun back on and push the handle at the bottom of the gun back in. There could be air in the gun now, however, so don’t screw the lid on all the way. Give the gun a few pumps until a little grease comes out. This means the air is out and the lid can be screwed on completely. Now the gun is ready to go.

Step 2: Locating Zerks

Now that we have the proper equipment and information, one can begin the job at hand. Start by grabbing the grease gun and locating the grease zerks. The zerks look kind of like a nipple and will generally be located on any part of the machine that rotates, swivels, moves back and forth or causes friction of some sort. The grease acts as a lubricant and reduces the friction. If having trouble finding zerks, they can be looked up in the owner’s manual, or sometimes the piece of equipment has pasted on it the locations of the zerks in a diagram.

Step 3: Determining Pumps

Once the zerk has been found, there are a few things to consider before greasing. Is the spot being greased a cavity or a joint of some sort? How many pumps does the zerk require? Do the zerks need to be hit every day?

To start off, if greasing a joint, pump the grease into the joint until it starts to come out. That is the indicator of when to stop. If greasing a cavity, the grease that is pumped will just go inside the cavity and it will not be visible. The number of pumps will vary depending on the size of the cavity so there isn’t really a set number of pumps. Anywhere from 10 to 20 would probably work but it’s just important to at least give them some grease to be able to operate smoothly. To answer the last question, zerks will sometimes have numbers on them like 10 or 50. This is the number of hours that that part of the equipment can operate without being greased again. So a 10-hour zerk would need to be hit every day more than likely, and a 50-hour zerk would be every 5 days or maybe once a week, all depending on how many hours are worked during a day. If the hour number is not displayed by the zerk, they can be looked up in the owner's manual, or sometimes the piece of equipment has pasted on it the locations of the zerks in a diagram along with the hours.

Step 4: Greasing

Once this is all figured out, stick the end of the hose onto the zerk and squeeze the handles together to pump the grease (or push the trigger on the grease gun if it is an electric one). Continue with this process until all or at least the important zerks are done.

Step 5: Chain Lubing

Moving on to lubricating of the chains, this process is much easier. Take a can of chain lube and locate the chains on the piece of equipment. They can be under covers, shields, or without either. To lubricate, just press the trigger at the top of the can and spray the chain. For better lubrication, turn the piece of equipment on so the chain is moving. This makes it easier to get the whole chain, especially ones that are hard to reach or ones that are quite long. However, if the chain is moving, be careful not to get caught in it as this could lead to serious injury.

Step 6: Conclusion

Now, since there will be less time fixing things and more time using well-operating equipment, the work that needs to get done will get done, tempers won’t flare over breakdowns, and less money will come out of the farmer’s pocket.