How To Clean Out A Combine: Step By Step

At the end of the harvest, it’s important to give your combine a good cleaning to prevent having weed seed and vermin over winter inside your machinery. Before you put your combine away for the winter months, you must perform a complete cleaning that will give you the opportunity to locate any maintenance needs and clean out potential food and bedding sources for vermin. Read on to learn more on how to clean out a combine.

Why To Clean Out Your Combine?

why to clean out your combine

One vermin food source is weed seed, along with any leftovers from your harvested crop. When you give your combine a good cleaning before winter comes, you can remove this stray seed and prevent spreading it over your field when you go back to work in the springtime.

Be aware that you should not only look for stray seeds and grain inside the combine, there may also be seeds lodged in crevices on the outside of the machine, so you’ll want to perform a thorough cleaning inside and out.

While this sort of painstaking cleanup may seem tedious, it’s really time well spent. Keeping your machine clean and well maintained prolongs its life and improves its efficiency.

In fact, keeping your combine clean is such a valuable practice that some farmers perform a complete cleanup when changing from harvesting one type of grain to harvesting another.

Cleaning your equipment thoroughly between fields helps prevent spread of unwanted diseases, insect pests and weed seeds.

Steps To Complete Combine Cleanup

1. Gather your tools in advance

Whenever you are working with, adjusting or cleaning your combine, you should wear protective gear. You’ll need:

  • Protective eyewear
  • Hearing protection
  • Dust mask
  • Gloves

Note that because this work is potentially dangerous, people, pets and livestock should stay a minimum of fifty feet away while you are cleaning the machine.

To do the jobs at hand, you’ll also need:

  • 1.5 cubic feet of pinewood chips
  • High -pressure air compressor
  • Flat -head screw drivers
  • Shop vacuum
  • Pocket knife

2. Address every part of the machine

To give your combine a thorough cleaning, you’ll need to address every part of the machine:

  • Head
  • Feeder-house
  • Rock trap
  • Rotor-cylinder–concave
  • Cleaning shoe
  • Tailings
  • Elevators
  • Grain tank
  • Unloading auger
  • Chopper
  • Rear axle
  • Chassis

Go over the outside as well.

3. Work in this order

  • Begin by running the unloading auger empty for a period of about a minute or more.
  • Take the header off the combine.
  • Open up and clean the doors of the grain elevator and the tailings elevator.
  • Open and clean the rock trap and the unloading augur sump.
  • Start up the combine and the separator.
  • Turn the cleaning shoe fan on to full speed to attain maximum airflow.
  • You may also wish to open and close the sieves of the cleaning shoe electronically.
  • Make adjustments to the rotor for full speed operation and maximum air suction.
  • You may also wish to close and open the concaves several times.

Keep the combine going like this for a minimum of two minutes. Drive it over rough terrain or the end rows of a field that has been harvested. This movement will help dislodge any stuck materials that need to be cleaned out.

4. Clean out the interior of the grain tank

Having completed this, use your shop vac to clean out every inch of the interior of the grain tank. Be sure to vacuum:

  • Sensors
  • Wiring
  • Ledges
  • Lights
  • Steps

Vacuum around the cab window.

5. Clean out the unloading auger

Clean out the unloading auger by filling the sump tightly with the pinewood chips. Start the unloading augur to pull this material through and scour the mechanism. Follow up by vacuuming everything out of the sump and off the cross augurs, as well as the unloading augur’s exit.

6. Continue with these steps

  • Remove the head of the combine and lower its feeder-house all the way to the ground. Blow out the interior of the mechanism with compressed air. Be sure to get all loose materials off the feeder-house chains, as well as any crevices and joints. Loosen material on the chains by shaking them. Raise the feeder-house back up and lock it.
  • Open up the door of the rock trap and loosen any debris you encounter. If there is a rubber seal between the rotor and the feeder-house, pull it down to loosen and remove debris with your shop vac and with compressed air.
  • Next, take off the access panels and the rotor-cylinder concaves. Use your shop vac and compressed air to clean the threshing area and the rotor-cylinder. You’ll need to manually remove lodged in debris from the front-rotor cylinder. Follow this up with a good vacuuming.
  • Use compressed air to clean out the concaves, along with the last rotor-cylinder cage. Direct the air onto the back sections of the rasp bar to remove debris. If you have removed the concaves, reattach them and vacuum the rotor-cylinders.
  • Remove any remaining debris from the shaker pan/grain augers just under the rotor-cylinder.
  • Remove debris from the chopper to clean the rotor.
  • Open up the sieves completely and take the covers off the bottom cross augurs. Use compressed air to clean the sieves.
  • Carefully examine the lower cross augers, and use your shop vac to clean up any remaining debris.
  • Open the lower doors and shake off the conveyor chains to loosen any remaining debris and clean the elevators.
  • Open up the moisture sensor and assembly and empty it.
  • Be sure to clean out the header attachment because it is a prime hiding place for soil pathogens, as well as weed seeds, which may be resistant to herbicide treatments.

7. Clean the outside of the machine

Finish off by giving the entire exterior of the machine a good cleaning. Blow debris and residue off the rear axle and the spreader assembly with compressed air.

Clean the chassis, paying close attention to:

  • Outside of the feeder-house
  • Ledges behind access panels
  • Ledges above the fuel tank
  • Standing platforms
  • Cab roof
  • Guards
  • Shields

Following this important practice at the end of every harvest season helps keep your combine in good working order and, ultimately, contributes to the success of your crops.

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