During the harvest season, you probably won’t be worried about where to keep your combine harvester – you’ll probably leave it close to the fields. However, once the season ends and winter arrives, you might be wondering where to store the combine harvester to protect it from the threats of winter weather, damage, rodents, and theft. Here’s what you need to know!
What You'll Learn Today
Where Are Combine Harvesters Used?
Combine harvesters are used to harvest and clean various cereal crops such as corn barley, wheat, rye, rice, oats, and sorghum, as well as many non-grain crops.
They are used all over the world, in all kinds of climates. That list includes places that experience seasonal temperature swings and inclement weather.
Because of this, it’s important that you take steps to make sure your combine harvester is stored properly – that way, inclement weather won’t have the opportunity to inflict damage.
How Do You Store a Combine Harvester?
The first thing to figure out when you are getting ready to store your combine harvester is where you are going to put it.
While it might be tempting to leave it sitting in the field – after all, that’s where it will be needed next year – this is not a great idea.
Leaving you combine harvester outdoors not only makes it more vulnerable to theft and accidental damage but can also leave it at the whims of Mother Nature. Even if you don’t experience harsh winter weather (including snow, ice, wind, and cold weather) where you live, there’s still the potential for damage.
After all, temperature fluctuations can lead to condensation formation which takes a toll on a machine. Even rainfall can harm your machine, especially when it’s left outside for prolonged periods of time and has the opportunity to rust.
Store your combine indoors, ideally in a barn or dedicated farm storage building.
Tips for Storing the Combine Harvester
After you’ve spent all that time harvesting your crops, it might be tempting to drive the combine into the barn and move on to the next chore on your to-do list.
However, it’s important to take a few steps to make sure you prevent damage to your combine over the winter – and to save yourself from a few headaches next summer, too. Here are some tips.
Clean the Combine
You wouldn’t put other tools or equipment into storage without giving them a thorough once-over – so why would you do that for your combine? Take the time to clean it.
Ideally, you should use a pressure washer and some compressed air for this task. A leaf blower can substitute just fine for compressed air if you don’t have it.
You’ll use the air to clean out debris and crop residue. This will help you get dirt and crop remains out of the bearings and shaft. You could use the pressure washer for this task, too, but it’s not ideal because it will introduce moisture that can be hard to get out before you store the combine.
You should also check the engine compartment and grain tank and pan. The engine compartment is especially important to clean out, since crop residues can become a fire hazard once you start the machine back up again.
The pressure washer will come in handy when you clean the exterior of the machine. Just make sure you don’t wash any electrical connectors or any bearings or shaft seals.
Now is also a good time to check for any worn or damaged parts that need repairing or replacing, like those that might be covered by the shield (something you should take off for cleaning).
Check the Fuel Tank
Before you store your combine, fill the fuel tank with fuel. It might seem silly to top the tank off when it’s not going to be used, but this can prevent condensation from forming in the tank. Also, drain the water separator.
Inspect for Damage and Do Basic Maintenance
Look for any repairs that need to be done. Although you probably don’t use your combine very much in a given year, when it is being used, it’s being used heavily. Therefore, you should take some time to make some basic repairs – something you probably don’t have time to do during harvest.
If you don’t have time to make the necessary repairs or if you need to wait on a part, be sure to make a list of everything that needs to be tackled.
There’s a good chance you’ll forget about minor issues over the course of six months and this can spell disaster for your machine and for next season’s harvest.
Other Steps Before Storage
A few other steps you should take include removing the battery (this should be stored in a warm, dry location) and loosening the tension on your belts. Don’t totally remove the tension, as it can cause shrinkage.
Replace any water you added to your radiator with coolant and do a quick service check on the machine. You might need to change fluids, since old oil can cause corrosion, or grease and lubricate the bearings. Remember to run the machine for 15 to 20 minutes after lubricating to distribute it easily.
Here’s a quick video that will give you an example of how to change the oil on a combine harvester:
Some people also recommend sealing the exhaust and breather outlets of the engine with some masking tape. This can reduce the likelihood of condensation forming when the temperature changes – and condensation, after all, leads to rust. Just be sure to remove this tape when you start the engine.
Finally, check the tires. You may need to replace them and now is a better time to do so (logistically and financially) than right before or during harvest. Check the tire pressure and clean off any grease or oil, which can damage the tires.
Take Steps to Prevent Rodent Damage
Rats and mice alike appreciate the shelter that a combine can provide over the winter. At best, you may find yourself chasing a few rodents out of the machine come summer, and at worst, they may make a meal out of your wiring.
Therefore, it’s important to take steps to prevent rodent damage. Some good options include:
- Baits and traps
- All-natural solutions like Irish Spring soap and homemade traps
- Electronic repellents
Even a barn cat can help! Whatever you choose, make sure you take steps to keep these pests out of your machine.
How Long Does a Combine Harvester Last?
When cared for properly, a combine harvester can last for twenty years or more. While large, commercial operations tend to trade out every few years, with the right care you can keep yours for much longer.
Ultimately, the more work you do to maintain and protect your combine harvester in storage, the longer it will last.
A clean, well-cared-for combine will suffer from less wear and tear – meaning fewer breakdowns, reduced risk of fire, and better performance during harvest.