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For the farmer, whether he is of the full-time or hobby variety, there are few things more frustrating than a non-functional tractor. Tractors seem to have the annoying trait of breaking down just when the user ready to hook up to a plow or planter, and will often do so in the location furthest from the barn or workshop. The frequently repeated “Murphy’s Law” states that if something can go wrong, it will. Obviously, Mr. Murphy owned a tractor.
Luckily, the basics of tractor repair can be quickly mastered. Mostly, they consist of keeping in mind that a tractor is not a car or truck. This difference is best exemplified by the fact that tractor maintenance is not based upon how many miles have been traveled, but rather upon how many hours the machine has been operated. A tractor is constantly forced to work in less than ideal conditions, and undergoes a maximum of mechanical stress.
A tractor owner should keep his shop well-stocked with replacement parts and know how to install them. These include oil and fuel filters, which should be changed both in the spring and fall, and a variety of belts specific to the model in question. Tractors break belts in the same way a ten-year-old breaks shoelaces, and a tractor owner can never have enough back-ups. In addition, if he wishes to avoid multiple trips to the supply store, he should make sure to buy extra water, fuel, and hydraulic hoses.
An owner should keep in mind that he will not be able to facilitate all tractor repairs himself. Such being the case, the most important item necessary for tractor repair is the tractor repair manual. Of nearly equal importance is the phone number of a favorite mechanic, welder, and tractor tire dealer. This is especially true in the latter case, as transporting and changing the huge rear tires of a tractor requires specialized equipment.
A good deal of tractor repair lies in trying to stop problems before they occur. The user should always check the fluid levels — primarily oil, antifreeze, and hydraulic fluids — and make certain that the air pressure in the tires is appropriate. If he owns both diesel powered and gasoline-powered tractors, he should make certain that he does not confuse the fuels. It happens more often than one might think, and will totally destroy an engine.
Tractors run hot and are usually assaulted by clouds of dirt and abrasives. Therefore, a regular check of gaskets and seals should be performed. The user should have plenty of grease on hand, and keep his tractor well lubricated. Spark plugs should also be cleaned or replaced on a relatively frequent basis. Even after following all these tips, a tractor will still break down. It should, however, do so less often and the repair job should not entail major surgery.
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