Whilst we still have plenty of work to be completed during autumn and winter there are items of plant and equipment that may not be required again until spring, there is nothing worse than planning your work only to find that the piece of equipment has deteriorated over the winter and then needs fixing or worse still replaced.
With a few simple steps this can be avoided
Maintenance of Small/Compact Tractors
Small/Compact tractors such as the Foton 254F or Armatrac 504E are supplied with a tractor specific maintenance manual, this will show the maintenance schedule, which should have been followed throughout the year, before laying your tractor to up, go through this schedule to make sure everything is in working order and operates correct.
Protect your tractor from the elements, this should be the first concern when storing your tractor over the winter months. Even if it has a cab, rain and cold will take its toll if the tractor is not protected in some way. Ideally store it in a barn or shed that is ventilated – it also makes working on the tractor more convenient too, alternatively, plastic covers, while waterproof, can cause their own problems as they sweat and restrict air circulation; a heavy-duty tarpaulin cover would provide some protection but a breathable and waterproof poly canvas tarp is ideal.
As temperatures drop check the condition of antifreeze, (antifreeze does have a shelf life), and its performance begins to wane after two years. You could use a hydrometer to check the freezing point of your engine’s coolant. At the same time check for debris around the filler neck of the radiator cap – if present you’ll need to flush the system.
Engines that run on petrol should be drained if you plan to put your tractor into storage for the winter. Fuel left in the tank can go stale after several months, and a residue can build up which can cause problems later. Diesel should never be drained, instead keep the tank full to reduce condensation and oxidation of metal tank walls. Keep the battery charged and turn the engine over once a month to prevent things from seizing up.
Batteries are more likely to freeze if discharged so disconnect in your older style tractors with petrol engines to prevent any drain, or remove completely and store in a warmer place.
Looking after Tractor Attachments and Other Tools
Cleaning is always the first step before putting tractor attachments and tools away for the winter. Remove mud, vegetation and any other foreign bodies from equipment, (if you can leave to dry) this will also aid inspecting your machinery for any damage or wear and tear that might need addressing. Parts that have worn out will need replacing. It’s very easy to put off repairs and buying replacements when you don’t plan to use something for a few months. But now is a good time to do this so that you’re prepared for the season.
Now is also a good time to check blades on the mowers for sharpness and to test other equipment to ensure it is performing correctly. If the winter months are quieter for you, use the time to give all your equipment a thorough once over and order any replacement parts such as belts and blades from your stockiest (Call 01772 316287) to ensure it’s in good order for when you need it next.
Before storing farm implements make sure that moving parts, in particular any bearings, are lubricated, and treat any signs of rust or bare metal with grease or a rust preventing paint. Keeping moisture away from your machinery is essential to prevent rust and parts seizing up; therefore, once dry and lubricated you should store tools and implements in a dry place if possible. We don’t like to mention it but machinery theft is popular in many rural areas so it may also be a good time to invest in upgrading your security.