Regularly cleaned kit can make inspection much easier, improve biosecurity and boost residual values.
Geoff Ashcroft sought a few tips from Notts-based cleaning specialist CJW Valeting...
With the cost of new tractors and machinery heading increasingly skywards, putting time and effort into cleaning up your kit can have a whole host of hidden and tangible benefits.
If you are thinking of selling, then a clean and tidy mule which appears well-looked after is likely to command a decent price. It should certainly sell easier than a filthier example, as the dealer trade can save money by not having to clean up mucky part-ex tractors which are going on the stock-list.
Clean kit also oozes professionalism and pride, though it is not always practical or possible when the weather is closing in and the pressure is on. Yet for those who rely on sign-writing to promote their business, clean kit makes names and phone numbers much easier to identify, and more appealing.
While livestock farmers are familiar with bio security to restrict the spread of diseases, the emphasis on clean kit for the arable sector would be more focussed on limiting the spread of weeds.
And with a range of automotive cleaners and polishes now widely available, it has become much easier than ever to keep paint, plastics and cab interiors looking sharp. So where do you start?
Craig Walker of CJW Valeting says; “A decent pressure washer is worth the investment. If you can stretch to a hot-water machine, it will make light work of removing the worst of muck and dirt, before you can give your kit a deep clean and restore any faded paintwork.”
He also recommends choosing pH-neutral and non-caustic cleaning products, to prevent corrosion, and reduce the risk of marking any paint or plastics – all of which will need a good dose of elbow grease.
Our featured MF8730 Dyna VT belongs to Notts contractor IW Smalley and Sons of Quarry Farm, Cropwell Bishop.
The business is no stranger to cleaning its kit, and this two-year old 1,300-hour example was only lightly soiled after recent work.
“The first task is to wash off most of the dirt using the pressure washer,” says Mr Walker.
“And if you wash on a wet day, dirt is softened by rain and is easier to remove.”
A TFR solution (traffic film remover) is sprayed onto heavily soiled areas and allowed to loosen dirt, before rinsing off.
“I have developed a short nozzle for my pressure washer to replace the lance when working up-close – it makes it much easier to reach into confined spaces.”
Snow foam is the theatrical element of the wash process and it involves coating the rinsed machine with a layer of this active cleaning agent, applied through the pressure washer.
“Foam hangs on the surface and gets to work loosening and removing the grime that you cannot see easily,” he says.
“You’ll know it’s working as the white foam gradually turns dirty as it pulls grime from the surface. After five to 10 minutes of soaking, rinse the foam away and you should notice a difference, with how much brighter the tractor will start to appear.”
Cabs are notorious for hosting dust and grime, with lighter coloured plastics often looking shabbier, much sooner than dark interiors.
A thorough vacuuming – remember the move the seat forward too – will shift most detritus, before attacking crevices, switchgear and control surfaces with a clean paint brush.
An all-purpose cleaning solution such as G101, will make light work of mats, plastic surfaces, control switches and levers, before putting on the gloss with an interior polish.
“Correctly diluted, G101 can be scrubbed into upholstery and head linings too,” he says.
An air freshener adds the finishing touch.
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Black plastic trims, as found in the construction of mudguards, fuel tanks and worklight surrounds, can soon adopt a faded, milky appearance.
Dry off the paint, plastic and glass using microfiber cloths before dressing the exterior.
Windows, mirrors and lights can have streaks and grime shifted using a glass cleaner, while a suitable trim dressing can restore a natural look to plastics.
In this instance, a protective finish leaves the surface wanting to repel water.
Having had its exterior dried off using micro fibre cloths, and licked over with a whiff of polish, this Massey’s gloss shine has been easily restored.
Repeated treatments – when time allows – will help the paintwork to remain brighter for longer. And a good top coat of sealer will help to lessen the impact of UV rays which can make exterior finishes – particularly red – fade over time.
A protective finish will also make the tractor easier to clean next time.