Big Farm Project? Test Your Equipment Beforehand

Whenever a major seasonal farm project rolls around, it’s wise to test any necessary equipment beforehand in case any unforeseen issues need fixing.

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: Daniel Johnson

Whenever a major seasonal farm project rolls around, it’s wise to test any necessary equipment before work gets underway, just in case there are any unforeseen issues that need fixing.

Baling hay is a perfect example project. Baling hay is a seasonal farm activity requiring lots of specialized equipment that goes unused many months out of the year. When the fields are tall and it’s time to start cutting, you want to be confident your equipment is in tip-top shape. Giving everything a test run well before the first hay needs to be cut will provide you time to address any problems that pop up.

With hay season approaching on my northern Wisconsin farm, I needed to bale up some loose hay on the floor of my hay barn to clear a tidy space for fresh hay bales. Baling up loose hay provided a perfect opportunity to fire up the Massey Ferguson 135 tractor and the New Holland hay baler and make sure they were in working order.

Troubleshooting Farm Equipment in Time

It’s a good thing I tested them out, because both had issues. Bumblebees had taken up residence inside the tongue of the hay baler and had to be carefully removed.

Then it turned out the baler’s telescoping PTO shaft had frozen in the closed position and was too short to attach to the tractor. It took close to 15 minutes to get it moving freely again. As we all know, losing 15 minutes on a busy baling day can be problematic (especially if you’re trying to beat evening rain), so I was glad to get that straightened out during a less time-sensitive situation.

But the troubles weren’t over. The Massey Ferguson 135 started without issue and was running smoothly when I hooked up the baler. But when I tried to increase the throttle to baling speed, the throttle lever wouldn’t hold in the needed position. Instead, it sprang repeatedly back to a middle position too slow for baling hay.

Subscribe now

I could lower the throttle just fine—it would hold in a slower position. And if I raised the throttle and held the lever in place myself, the engine would respond. But something was clearly preventing the throttle lever from staying at high speed.

Read more: Check out these 5 ways to improve the fuel economy of your farm machines.

Finding Fix

An examination of the entire throttle mechanism revealed the culprit: a broken spring. Fortunately, the Massey’s manual included an exploded diagram of the throttle mechanism with every part labeled and identified. It wasn’t hard to find the broken spring, look up the part number, and order a replacement.

This story also illustrates the importance of having backup farm equipment when possible. The Massey wasn’t in any position to bale the loose hay that day, but my John Deere Model 40—a smaller tractor that usually rakes hay and pulls wagons around—is strong enough to bale a little hay in a pinch. Before long, I had the loose hay dealt with and the hay barn clean for another season.

If I hadn’t tested my equipment beforehand, I would have been in a tough situation when the first three-day hay window opened up and I discovered both tractor and baler had issues in need of fixing. Instead, I was able to work through the issues on my own time, leaving me ahead of the game and ready for a busy summer of hay production.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *