Brad Schultz is a believer in preventive maintenance of farm machinery. This Booker, TX, producer farms 3,000 acres of wheat, milo and corn with the help of only one hired hand and five tractors. He does as much farming as his dad did with 16 men and more than a dozen tractors.

“With equipment that effective and profitable, it makes sense to conduct regular maintenance and repairs during the winter and to protect equipment from harsh weather year-round,” Schultz says.

Because he knows he can't afford to lose a single day to equipment downtime, Schultz adheres to a strict preventive maintenance program designed to protect his $800,000 machinery investment. Here is Schultz's eight-step plan that may help you reduce your own machinery costs.

  1. Write oil change schedules on exposed oil filters with an indelible marking pen so that the key numbers stay with the machine.

  2. Stamp the engine hour target for your next scheduled fluid change or engine maintenance onto plastic marking tape and stick it onto the tractor hour meter.

  3. Steam-clean all field equipment before storing it for the winter.

  4. Tighten all fittings to prevent leaks in storage.

  5. Idle all equipment for about 30 min. monthly during winter to keep cylinders coated with motor oil and batteries charged. Afterward, top off all fluids and keep tractor fuel tanks full to prevent fuel system condensation and contamination.

  6. Liberally grease hydraulic actuator arms to prevent rusting and pitting.

  7. Grease all plow blades to prevent deterioration in storage.

  8. In spring, inspect all equipment, checking for worn or cracked belts, hoses and fittings, and fix any leaks.

To support his preventive maintenance program, Schultz uses Phillips 66 lubricants, including Super HD II 15W-40 motor oil for tractor engines, HG fluid for tractor transmissions and hydraulic systems, and Philube High Temp EP grease for greasing parts.

For proof that his maintenance program works, Schultz points to his oldest tractor, a 1988 John Deere model 4955 with 5,000 hrs. on it. He has replaced some noisy machine belts on the 4955, but it has required no major overhauls.

For more details, contact Schultz at Dept. FIN, 201 Eastern St., Booker, TX 79005, 806/435-0646.