ALTHOUGH EQUIPMENT companies are doing their part to prevent corrosion, how well you maintain your machinery will determine its useful life. Dr. Richard Parish, agricultural engineer with the Louisiana State University AgCenter, offers the following rust prevention tips.
- clean a machine after each use.
Dirt, dust and crop residue can be corrosive when mixed with grease and oil on equipment. Rain also can be damaging. Parish recommends you wash equipment down with water after each use. “For example, with a rotary cutter, grass can build up and it can rust very fast,” he says. “Putting it away clean goes a long way in preserving equipment.”
- store equipment indoors.
Storing machinery in a shed when it is not being used will help keep it clean and dry.
avoid parking machinery on dirt.
If inside storage is not possible, tillage implements in particular should be parked on concrete, gravel or blocks of wood to keep the disc blades or chisel plow knives off the ground. “They will hold up a lot better if not in contact with grass or soil,” Parish says.
- wash chemicals off equipment.
Corrosive chemicals such as fertilizer, pesticides and road salt should be washed off as soon as possible. Pressure washing with hot soapy water and then rinsing is ideal. However, simply rinsing thoroughly with cold water will also help.
- apply plow-bottom paint.
You can keep tillage tools such as moldboard plows clean and shiny by applying what is called plow-bottom paint. This flat black paint, sold at implement dealers, can be sprayed directly on the plow bottoms or other ground-engaging surfaces. “It stays on in storage but peels off when it hits the soil and leaves a shiny surface again,” Parish says.
- wax machinery annually.
Applying a good-quality automotive wax or protectant provides additional protection from rust.
- do paint touch-ups.
Scratches and paint chips should be repainted to help prevent rust in those areas.
- grease bearings.
Bearings and other moving parts should be greased before the machinery is stored for the season. “For example, filling the bearing housings with grease prevents water from seeping in and corroding the bearings,” Parish says.
- hang up hydraulic tips.
Another area where corrosion is a problem is hydraulic fittings, Parish says. “When unhooking hydraulic hoses from the tractor, some folks drop them on the ground,” he says. “Then the connections get rusty and don't fit well the next time you try to hook them up.” Hoses should be hung up once they are unhooked to keep the tips off the ground.
- retract hydraulic cylinders
Hydraulic cylinder rods on implements are subject to pit corrosion, or pits in the metal, if left extended and stored outside for a season. “Pit corrosion can tear out the seals on the cylinders the next time you use the implement,” Parish says. “So you want to retract the cylinders or coat the rods with heavy grease to protect them.”