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3 Tips to prepare your combine for winter

With the harvest season behind us, it’s never too early to start thinking about next year. Before you put your combine in storage — and out of mind — for the year, take a look at some of these tips from experts about how to prepare it for the winter months. 

1. Start it up

Start up your combine and let it run while you do a walkaround inspection, says James Franceschetti, product marketing manager at CNH Industrial. He recommends looking, listening, and smelling for anything that may be off with your machine.

“Letting it run for a little bit will let you simulate what it was like during harvest,” says Franceschetti. “As it’s running, use an infrared thermometer, and see if any bearings are hotter than they should be.”

Once it’s in storage, check the operator’s manual to see how often you should run your machine. 

According to Tyler Rumbold, product manager at John Deere, Deere’s operating manual recommends turning your machine on every 60 to 90 days. He says to let the engine warm up, and cycle the air conditioning. When you’ve finished the cycle, he says to disconnect the battery while it’s sitting idle for a long period of time.

2. Clean your machine

A John Deere combining soybeans.
David Ekstrom

Some of the most common damages found when pulling a combine out of storage are caused by mice and rats that like to burrow and sleep in the machine’s wiring and harnesses.

“The best way to prevent that is to: clean your machine, clean your machine, clean your machine,” says Rumbold. “And just when you think it's clean enough, probably clean it again.”

Rumbold says he encounters damage when augers aren’t 100% cleaned out. Checking that your machine’s augers are clear of grain and dust eliminates a source of food for rodents over the winter. 

After a dry harvest season, it’s important to use an air compressor to clear out any of the dry material which can pose a serious fire hazard to your combine.

“Check for any scratches or dents, and apply some touch up paint,” says Franceschetti. “You certainly don't wanna leave anything bare because it could rust over the season.”

3. Don't put off maintenance

Take a look at the operator’s manual and do your recommended service interval. This means changing oil, cleaning radiators, draining or changing coolant, changing hydraulic oil, changing filters, and topping off fluids on your machine, according to Rumbold. 

“Setting yourself up for success when you've pulled that machine out of the shed in the next fall or next summer is pivotal prior to going into winter storage,” says Rumbold.

If you need further assistance with repairs, parts replacement, or maintenance, both recommend getting an appointment scheduled with your local dealer sooner rather than later. 

“You don't want to wait until you pull the combine outta storage,” says Franceschetti. “You might find out your dealership’s service bay is filled up, and you might not be able to get it in there for an inspection.”

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