While there are still many jobs to do throughout the autumn and winter months, there will be some tools and machinery which you will not need again until next spring.
To prevent machines from unnecessarily breaking down or failing the next time you want to use them, Farm Tech Supplies has come up with a simple checklist of maintenance tips and storage advice when putting machines away for winter.
Check the manual: Most compact tractors have detailed instructions for their specific maintenance in the owner’s manual.
This will include the maintenance schedule, which should have been adhered to throughout the year. Before putting your tractor to bed, go through this schedule to make sure everything is in working order.
Storage: Protecting your tractor from the elements should be the first concern when storing a compact tractor over the winter months. Even if it is has a cab, rain and cold will take its toll if the tractor is not covered in some way.
Ideally store it in a barn or shed – it makes working on the tractor more convenient too. Alternatively, a heavy-duty cover will provide some protection.
Plastic covers, while waterproof, can cause their own problems as they sweat and restrict air circulation; a breathable and waterproof poly canvas tarp is ideal.
Radiator checks: As temperatures begin to dip check the condition of antifreeze in your tractor. Antifreeze does have a shelf life and its performance begins to drop off after two years.
You can use a hydrometer to check the freezing point of your engine’s coolant. At the same time check for debris around the filler neck of the radiator cap – if present you will need to flush the system.
Fuel tanks: Engines which run on petrol should be drained if you plan to put your tractor into storage for the winter. Fuel left in the tank can go stale after several months, and build up a residue which can cause problems later.
Diesel should never be drained, instead keep the tank full to reduce condensation and oxidation of metal tank walls.
Batteries: It is a good idea to turn the engine over once a month to prevent things from seizing up, and to keep the battery charged.
Batteries are more likely to freeze if discharged so disconnect, or even remove completely and store in a warmer place.
Cleaning: This is always the first step before putting tractor attachments and tools into hibernation for the winter. Remove mud, vegetation and any other foreign bodies from equipment.
This will also make it much easier to inspect your machinery for any damage or wear and tear which might need addressing.
Worn parts: Parts which have worn out will need replacing. It is very easy to put off repairs and buying replacements when you do not plan to use something for a few months.
But now is a good time to do this so that you are prepared for the season.
Touch ups: Now is also a good time to check mower blades for sharpness and test other equipment to ensure it is performing properly.
If the winter months are quieter for you, use the time to give all your equipment a thorough once over and order any replacement parts such as belts and blades from your stockiest to ensure it is in good order for when you need it next.
Lubrication: Before storing farm implements make sure moving parts, in particular any bearings, are lubricated, and treat any signs of rust or bare metal with grease or a rust prevention paint.
Keeping moisture away from your machinery is essential to prevent rust and parts seizing up; therefore, once dry and lubricated you should store tools and implements in a dry place if possible.
Storage: A barn or garage is ideal if you have one but many opt for the convenience of an old shipping container to store both tractor and machinery securely.
We do not like to mention it but machinery theft is popular in many rural areas so it may also be a good time to invest in upgrading your security.