One of the most thrilling aspects of being a homesteader or small farmer is the ability to survive “off the grid” if you want to. That means investing in durable equipment and supplies that always pull through when you’re counting on them. But to keep your investments working properly, you also need to spend a bit of time on maintenance. Like your favorite automobile, a personal tractor or other residential equipment machine requires ongoing care to ensure that it lasts for years to come.
Here are 6 things to do on a routine basis to keep your tractor operating smoothly.
1. Make a Schedule
Pull out your tractor’s owner’s manual and give it a good once over. Make a list of things like changing the filter, oil, or other maintenance to-dos and put them on your calendar in advance, so that you can plan ahead. A few things to keep in mind are going with the manufacturer’s recommendations for types of fluid, filters, coolant, etc.
2. Store Your Tractor Out of the Elements
Yes, your tractor is made to rough it outside, but that doesn’t mean you should voluntarily expose it to drastic element changes like rain, sleet, snow, or hail like your postman is used to. Doing so can lead to rusting of the metals or premature wear on the internal machinery. If you don’t have enough room in your barn or garage, consider building a small shed or lean-to off of another existing outbuilding.
3. Monitor Your Fluids
Running out of fuel isn’t the only thing that will keep you and your tractor away from a good day’s work. Even if it’s not time to change fluids out, check their levels (transmission fluid, engine oil, coolant, hydraulic oil, etc.) before they have a chance to get too low.
4. Check for Loose Connections
Between your belts, hoses, nuts, and bolts, you need to make sure that everything is connected properly. A leaky hose or loose tube can cause you to lose fluids during routine operations, leading to broken equipment.
5. Always Check Your Gauges
A gauge is one of the first places to look to make sure your tractor is working properly. Between the temperature to the oil pressure, refer to your owner’s manual to make sure all of the readings fall in alignment with what’s within normal operating limits. Remember, your tractor’s use is measured in hours instead of miles, so your maintenance schedule should be adjusted to reflect how much time your machine is doing (vs. the distance that it’s going.)
6. Make Sure Everything Stays Lubricated
Because of how many gears and moving parts are used by the tractor to run properly, make sure they’re lubricated on a routine basis. Otherwise it can make it difficult to use attachments, steer, or respond to gear changes.