With most of the worlds grains & cereals harvest already under or just about to begin, the prospect of damp corn coming off of the combine will not appeal to farmers. Some farms use big continuous flow-driers for their produce but more often than not the smaller mobile units are used.
Sturdy as they may be they all need pre-harvest maintenance which is why product manager Angus Steven from Opico teamed up with Farmers Weekly to bring you some helpful-hints in basic maintenance for your machine. However it is always recommended that you have your equipment checked by professionals at least once a year.
The following tips are based on gas-powered GT models:
1.) Burner – The liquified petroleum gas (LPG) used in these models heats up in the dryer and then exits through a series of small holes in a burner ring, which can get blocked. Using a gas nozzle cleaner, a pipe cleaner or even a 5/64in drill-bit you can clean most of the built up residue away. The long-terminal spark plug gap should be 3/32in, if it isn’t and the terminals aren’t encrusted with lots of carbon try giving it a good clean. The silicon-core HT lead can also deteriorate after a few years and sometimes gets gnawed by rodents so check it for damage and replace if necessary.
2) Flame Detector – The flame detector cuts off the fuel supply if the flame goes out. The most likely problem to occur here is the capillary tube involved can sometimes break off, so it’s worth checking for signs of damage. Similarly, there’s an air pressure switch with a pipe attached to it that shouldn’t be blocked.
3) Fan Driveline – This is simply a case of checking the bearings and for any signs of wear and tear on the belt the tension for which should deflect by 1-2in.
4) Agitator – The gearbox oil level should be checked once a year and, if necessary, topped up with EP90 gear oil. The four guide rollers sometimes have a tendency to move over time so just check their allignment within the race turning an eccentric nut which moves them in and out.
5) Bearings – Try to keep the dryer undercover, clean out the bin-well and leave the door open once the drying season is over to protect the bearing at the bottom of the vertical auger which should sit 8-10mm above the bottom of the bin-well.
If you have to replace the bearing, the two rubber seals will need changing at the same time. According to Mr Steven it might seem a pointless exercise, but it is a false economy not to do so. It can mean the difference between the bearing lasting six to seven years rather than just one or two years. A couple (literally) of pumps of grease around the bearing every 100 hours will also prolong its life.
In the same area, the large washer at the bottom should be loose enough to turn if it isn’t you will probably need to check the pressure on your bearings.
6) Discharge Head – If you need to take the discharge head on and off, make sure you grease the stub shaft well and that the flights make up a continuous, undamaged spiral. There should be just a 6mm (0.25in) gap between the ends of the two auger flights.
7) Loading Hopper – Check for grain in the agitator chain drive if there is any it’s coming in too fast. Adjust the volume regulator so that it takes about 15 minutes to load 12t.
8) Augir Drive – Check the tension importantly that there isn’t too much of it, otherwise it can flip over or jump off the pulleys. Again Mr Stevens recommends only using Opico branded belts when replacing.
9) Grain Guard Sensor – Check that the gap on the motion/speed sensors is right, otherwise the electronics will stop the dryer. Beware bridging the contacts as a quick fix.
10)… Farmers Weekly did provide a tenth tip in their original report so for the sake of my own superstitions tip-ten courtesy of IMD is to consult a professional engineer if you haven’t done any of this before!