Before you start tackling farm equipment repair, please take a minute to consider these items before you start.
- What type of farm equipment do you have?
- How much money do you have budgeted for maintenance?
- What do you consider your time per hour cost is?
- Do you have a shop on your farm/home?
- Are you mechanically inclined?
- What is your current workload schedule?
- Do you have the maintenance or shop manuals for the equipment to be repaired?
I know that these are quite a few questions, but they are critical to deciding:
- What is critical for your time
- What can you spend to get a good return on investment for what you are doing
- Do you enjoy farm equipment repair?
- What would it cost you to have someone else do the work and do they guarantee their work and know what they are doing?
I use to do all of those things myself. Lots of times, because I have lived on private islands, the only way to move equipment on or off the island for equipment was on a private barge.
I had purchased an older larger Ford 5000 automatic drive tractor that had been rebuilt, and traded in our old smaller tractor. It was easier for some of our temporary workers and my wife to operate than the older tractor. We saved a lot of time in maintenance as well as increased our efficiency for property management by close to 20 percent due to the increased capacity of the larger tractor.
The tractor worked well for a few years, I would do the regular maintenance and things were going well. The third summer we had the tractor though, one of the workers was driving the tractor and it got stuck. They informed me that they had started to hear some strange noise like squealing, then it quit moving.
The transmission was squealing when placed into high gear and it was hot. Once again, it was time to troubleshoot and decide to tackle this farm equipment repair or ask for help.
Here is what I did:
- I let the tractor cool off and got the maintenance manual out
- Looked through the troubleshooting chart and found some of the possible problems.
- I was able then to get the tractor unstuck and slowly back to the shop at my house.
- I found out that I would need to replace a few components in the transmission that had wore out.
Now I needed to look at my work schedule and decide what would be the fastest and best plan of action including cost considerations. I had traded our smaller tractor and $1,000 for this tractor. I had already gotten my investment back in increased production. If I was going to repair it, I would have to learn about automatic transmissions during the process. I do not like to work on automatic transmissions. The dealer that I purchased the tractor from told me that they could look at it whenever I could get it to them, and would even pick it up at the marina where the barge would drop it off! Great Idea!
They had a high and a low number for repair, from $700 to a high of $1,300 depending upon what they found. The repair would have cost me a lot more in my time since I did not have the special tools nor the knowledge of this particular transmission.
If it had been a standard transmission, I would have split the tractor and done the repairs myself, as the barge fees, both ways would be around $400. Farm equipment repair can be as simple as this, or as difficult as you want to make it.
For this farm equipment repair bill, it saved me about two to three days of labor and the tractor was again working as it should. Plus the transmission had a good 1 year warranty for parts and labor. I have found for myself, that if the repair was not done correctly, that it will usually fail within the warranty period. Of course, sometimes it breaks the day after the warranty expires.
Here are the answers to the questions to see if you should do the farm equipment repair yourself:
- You have the skills to do the repair yourself for less than you can have it done for you.
- The equipment is out of warranty
- You have the time to have it done and you are not in a hurry to get it back
- No one else has the time to do it, and you can’t rent another piece of equipment to get you by
- The cost to repair it is more than the cost of replacing your current farm equipment
- Your friends and mentor tell you that they will help you, and that they have done it before.
To sum it up, learn to be flexible, willing to learn new skills and ask for help when consider farm equipment repair. Consider all costs including your time.
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