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Mechanic's Stethoscope
Brian Yokimas, East Selkirk, Manitoba: "When it comes to heading off potential mechanical problems with your combine, there's nothing quite as effective as an ordinary mechanic's stethoscope.
"You can buy one at any good auto parts or tool supply store for around $30 (U.S.). I've used one ever since I began farming 27 years ago and wouldn't be without it. Thanks to the stethoscope, my 13-year-old New Holland TR 85 combine got through another 1,000-acre small grain harvest last year without a hitch. I use the 12-in. probe on the stethoscope to listen to every bearing as I run the machine real slowly. A bearing in good condition will make a smooth whir-ring sound, while one that needs replacing will growl or clunk. You'll catch a bad bearing much faster this way.
"You can keep the retracting fingers on the feeder drum in your combine from wearing prematurely by making a simple modification. I've done it on 10 used combines in my 27 years of farming and know it re-ally helps prolong finger life.
"I simply change to smaller drive sprockets, usually the smaller of the two drive sprockets. I've found a 20 percent reduction in size from the original is ideal. For instance, if the drive has a 20-tooth sprocket, I replace it with a 16-tooth sprocket.
"With this modification, the machine runs quieter and should last 20 percent longer. If the average combine is used 15 years, that translates to three extra years of use. All for just a couple hours work."

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1996 - Volume #20, Issue #4