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Class Helps Cut Farm Repair Costs
"If our students don't save at least $500 in parts the first year, we give them their money back," says R.B. Klein, Fults, Ill., a farmer and mechanic who teaches the basics of "planned preventive maintenance" to farmers throughout the Midwest. He's never had to make a refund.
"Most farmers are good mechanics and can take care of problems if they detect them. We simply teach a logical approach to maintaining equipment and finding problems early," says Klein.
Klein, who worked as a fighter jet mechanic in the Navy, began teaching preventive maintenance to farmers on an individual basis out of his farm shop in 1969. The program became so popular he branched out and last year taught classes in eight states. This year he hopes to expand to 24 with the help of several recently trained teachers.
Klein assumes his farmer students already know how to handle most routine maintenance of farm equipment. He simply teaches them his system of setting up comprehensive maintenance checklists that help maintain top operating efficiency and detect problems before they get serious. Klein says there's no other course like it available anywhere, even for cars or trucks.
"We break each machine down into systems and then walk through each system step by step, logically and thoroughly. Once a farmer learns the process of setting up a preventive maintenance schedule, he can do it for any equipment," says Klein. "You can save thousands of dollars by learning how to logically detect problems before they need service. Once you find the problem, we help you decide which maintenance jobs you can handle and which could be better handled by a dealer."
The 2-day course includes 12 hours of training with no hands-on work. Everything is covered in an instruction manual.
"We spend 1/3 of the time on 2-wheel drive tractors since virtually every farmer owns at least one. We first break it down into systems such as the engine, hydraulics, electrical, heat and air conditioner, instrument and controls, and drive train. Each system then breaks down into sub-systems. Sub-systems of an engine are cooling, fuel, air, ignition, lubrication, and exhaust. Finally, each of these sub-systems breaks down into several components. The cooling sub-system consists of the coolant, radiator, hoses, water pump and bearings, fan and bearings, and drive belts. Our procedure is to set up a schedule of daily, weekly, monthly or yearly checks of each of these specific components. When you follow a properly designed maintenance checklist, and know what to look for, it's nearly impossible for serious problems to develop without your knowledge."
Klein's course covers all major farm equipment 2-WD and 4-WD tractors, combines, forage harvesters, mowers, swathers, rakes, round balers, grain dryers, and so on as well as cars and trucks. If you own equipment that isn't covered, you'll learn how to set up your own preventive maintenance schedule. The course doesn't get into specific makes and models of equipment.
An important part of preventive maintenance is learning how to set up maintenance checklist boards that let you visually keep track of steps that should be taken and when. These maintenance boards, which are also used by the Navy to maintain aircraft, help document problems as they occur so you can keep running histories of each machine, which may help pinpoint the cause of later problems.
Klein has trained several vo-ag instructors to teach his course and put together a comprehensive training manual. The course costs $250 for two days, including meals and all course materials. Klein says implement dealers have been very supportive of his education effort and have supplied many of the names of farmers who've enrolled in the course. "Most dealers want farmers to learn how to detect problems before they get so bad the equipment is ruined. It's better for business," he notes.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Rudy Klein, KFS Int'l Inc., Rt. 1, Fults, Ill. 62244 (ph 618 458-6591).

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1985 - Volume #9, Issue #1