In the old days we editors talked about sharing a few items that came from the "old mail bag." Well these days, we're opening our electronic in-box to find farm information that may be of interest. Our friends at CHS, the cooperative, sent out a press release this week that included comments from Andrew Hamilton, their director of marketing for lubricants.
Hamilton, who also blogs at the company's website - www.tanksofthanks.com - says the long winter may mean you'll want to do a little more before starting spring farm work. Time can be the enemy of lubricants as much as heavy use. He notes that "as oil sits, contaminants built up that could be harmful to seals, gaskets and the engine itself." He explains it's that constant interaction of condensation from heating and cooling the engine that can cause moisture accumulation in the oil. Yep, that means an oil change may be in order before hitting the field.
He also notes that in-field maintenance, that routine kind where you're pumping grease into all those zerks, requires a little extra attention too. He says picking the wrong grease can be a challenge, noting that "many equipment owners are surprised to learn that it's actually the grease's thickener - not color - that determines its compatibility with another grease." Knowing what you've already pumped into the farm machine is important, and picking the wrong grease can be trouble.
I found this fascinating (OK, I am a gear head): "Grease is comprised of three parts: base oil, thickener and additives. The base oil is similar to the base oils used in engine and hydraulic oil. The thickener is what causes grease to become paste like. And the additives take care of lubrication and anti-oxidation," Hamilton explains in the press release.
He says that when two grease products are chemically incompatible, both can break down and create metallic salts, which become gritty. Instead of lubricating, that bad combination could actually cause wear to metal parts. Key is to compare those thickeners.
Hamilton recommends looking at the grease guide found on Cenex brand grease products (those are the brands CHS sells) to compare different thickeners including calcium complex, lithium or polyuria. That's a quick check for determining compatibility.
And if you used a low viscosity grease for winter it's time to pump it away for higher-viscosity grease for warmer weather use. Just another tip Hamilton offers.
A few weeks ago I noted the magic number - 50 - and the fact that this is a great number for soil and planting. And we're still waiting. After driving from the Twin Cities to Davenport, Iowa for a farm machinery launch and back last week, the only good news was all that rain and that the frost had gone out. Getting to 50, now that's another story.
My colleague Rod Swoboda also pointed out the value of 50 degree F temperatures and your farm too. Check it out.