Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 29 March 2017

Six essential tractor maintenance checks

A number of products are available from farm machinery dealers aimed at stopping water getting into your tractor's fuel system.
A number of products are available from farm machinery dealers aimed at stopping water getting into your tractor's fuel system.
Diesel engines are designed to run at a temperature of 80 - 85oC
A turbo-charged six litre engine requires as much as 400,000 litres of air per hour.

Winter can be a gruelling time for machinery, and no machine works harder on the farm than your tractor. Tractor engines tend to give as good as they get, with a little maintenance helping to keep running costs down and generally prolonging the tractor's trouble free lifespan on the farm. The following are some easy and inexpensive checks to do as winter sets in proper.

Check 1

Is your engine breathing clearly?

This is a very basic requirement. A six litre diesel engine running at 2,000 rpm consumes some 360,000 litres in an hour. The turbocharged version will need over 400,000 litres every hour.

All of that air comes in through the air filter, so if the tractor has been working in dusty conditions you will very likely have gathered enough dirt to partially block the filter. It will need to be cleaned regularly.

Unscrew the air filter cover and pull it out. Tap it on your hand or your knee to knock much of the dirt out of it. If it is very dirty, blow it out using compressed air.

Blow it from the inside out and always wear safety goggles.

Check 2

Does your diesel quality make the grade?

To consume the diesel the tractor requires having the diesel presented in the cylinders as a vapour.


This is done through the injectors. Diesel is vapourised by pushing it through a set of tiny holes in the injector at enormous pressures in the region of 2,500psi. In time, this pressure will cause the holes in the injectors to become bigger through wear, and the vapourisation of diesel will become less efficient.

The efficiency of the engine reduces, and you get less power for the same fuel going in. Injectors must be reconditioned and/or replaced regularly.

How often? After the first 1,500 hours and every 1,000 hours thereafter is the recommended schedule.

A number of products are available from farm machinery dealers aimed at stopping water getting into your tractor's fuel system.

Check 3

Give your tractor time to warm up!

If an athlete tries to perform to maximum ability without warming up they will likely do serious damage.

It's the same for your tractor engine, or any other engine. Diesel engines are designed to run at a temperature of 80 - 85C.

Until it reaches that temperature it is not performing at its best. Warm your engine up for about five minutes before you really ask for its best.

The athlete also has to warm down, and a tractor is no different, especially if it is turbo-charged.

Always allow the engine to tick over for a couple of minutes before you turn off the key. This allows the whole engine to cool a little.

Check 4

Don't overheat

To cool the tractor engine use coolant - never water alone. Engines that have just water in the cooling system are more prone to becoming porous and will freeze over winter. The coolant is usually a mixture of water, anti-freeze and summer coolant.

Keep the cooling system topped up with a readymade coolant from your supplier of choice.

If you are losing coolant constantly you must ask the question, where is it going? Check for leaks daily.

Check 5

Oil levels

Dip the tractor engine oil when the tractor is cold and on level ground.

The oil level should be on the "safe" part of the dip-stick. Do not have the oil on the lower part of the dip as this just won't be sufficient to cool a hardworking engine.

The main shafts, crank-shaft, cam-shaft and rocker-shaft are oil cooled.

Having enough oil makes sure that the oil gets a chance to cool between circuits of the engine. If the oil overheats it may lose its lubricating properties.

Check 6

When did you last clean the radiator?

Keep the radiator clear of straw, hay, insects and everything that seems to get stuck in there from back in the summertime.

Blow air through it, from the engine side toward the front or flush it out with a hose on an ordinary tap supply, not a pressure hose.

Check the condition and tightness of the fan belt so that coolant is circulated around your engine.

How tight is it? Look for .5 to .75 inches of play in the centre of the longest side of the fan belt. Have a spare fan belt in stock.

Indo Farming